By Amanda Zoch
Voters were in an affirming mood Tuesday, approving at least 16 of 20 ballot measures across seven states. Earlier this year, Louisianans approved two out of four ballot measures, and voters in the U.S. Virgin Islands also weighed in on one measure, though it failed due to low voter turnout.
Results are still rolling in, and only one measure remains too close to call.
Taxes were a common theme for ballot measures in 2019. Coloradans had two tax-related measures to decide on Election Day. Voters rejected Proposition CC, which aimed to alter Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) so the state could keep and spend all the revenue it collected to fund transportation and education programs. Proposition DD, which asked voters to allow a tax on sports betting, eked out a narrow victory.
Louisiana voters decided their ballot measures at the Oct. 12 statewide primary. All four of these measures related to taxes: Voters approved education funding and an extension of the Board of Tax Appeals while rejecting ad valorem tax exemptions for goods destined for the Outer Continental Shelf and affordable housing in New Orleans.
Maine, New Jersey, Texas and Washington all had tax issues on the ballot, as well. Voters in Maine approved a bond issue to improve highways, bridges and multimodal facilities, while those in New Jersey decided to extend veterans’ property tax deductions to include continuing care retirement facilities. In Texas, voters supported a flood infrastructure fund, increased the maximum bond amount for cancer prevention and research, dedicated taxes on sporting goods to protect natural areas, prohibited state income tax, and more.
One of Washington’s two citizen-initiated measures, Initiative 976, asked voters to fix annual car-tab fees at $30 for motor vehicles under 10,000 pounds. “Although the measure passed, Seattle and King County have both announced plans to challenge the initiative’s constitutionality.”
Two measures concerned redistricting. The failed Virgin Islands measure proposed a reapportionment of the territory’s legislative districts. Kansans, however, approved a legislatively referred measure that will eliminate the state’s unusual practice of removing nonresident military personnel and nonresident students from census data when drawing district lines.
Two measures concerned catastrophes and disasters. Texans approved a temporary property tax exemption for disaster areas, and Washington voters approved a measure to ensure government continuity during a catastrophic incident.
Texas had the most ballot measures of any state with 10, and voters rejected only one: A measure that asked voters to allow a person to hold more than one municipal judicial office at a time. Voters in the Lone Star State weighed in on a measure that would allow a county law enforcement’s dog to be transferred to its handler at the time of the dog’s retirement—approximately 94% of voters approved this measure.
Maine voters passed a measure allowing people with disabilities to sign petitions using alternative signatures.
In Washington, voters had a chance to overturn a previous ban on affirmative action policies. Although early results show the citizen’s initiative failing, the measure would have been the first instance of voters reversing an affirmative action ban.
The fate of another high-profile measure remains unclear: Although Pennsylvania voters cast ballots for or against Marsy’s Law, a crime victims’ bill of rights, the votes won’t be counted until after state courts decide whether the proposed constitutional amendment is, in fact, constitutional.
You can find more information about election results on the NCSL StateVote 2019 webpage. You can view all of the ballot measures from the 50 states and Washington, D.C., at the NCSL Ballot Measure Database.
Amanda Zoch is an NCSL legislative policy specialist and Mellon/ACLS Fellow.