With all of the presidential hoopla, it’s easy to forget that a lot of other issues will be on the ballot this November. In fact, many states are turning it over to their voters to make decisions on some pretty important subjects. Whether you live in these states or not, here are 30 ballot measures you might want to keep your eye on:
Same Sex Marriage
- Maine Same Sex Marriage Question (Question 1)
- Maryland Same-Sex Civil Marriage Referendum (Question 6)
- Minnesota Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (Amendment 1)
- Washington Same-Sex Marriage Veto Referendum (Referendum 74)
It just wouldn’t feel like an election if voters weren’t asked whether to legitimatize the love of other people. Three years after the people of Maine voted to ban same-sex marriage, a repeal of this ban looks poised to pass. On the other hand, Minnesota is looking to ban it, though the wording may still leave room for civil unions.
Genetically Modified Food
- California Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food (Proposition 37)
The proposition will change the way food in the state can be labeled. While supporters want people to better know what they are putting in their bodies, many in the food industry are donating large sums money to defeat the proposition in order to avoid facing new regulations.
- Alabama Health Care Amendment (Amendment 6)
- Florida Health Care (Amendment 1)
- Missouri Health Care Exchange Question (Proposition E)
- Montana Health Care Measure (LR-122)
- Wyoming Health Care Amendment (Constitutional Amendment A)
Five states currently have ballot measures designed to counter Obama’s health care reform efforts. However, even if these Amendments pass, they are not likely to hold up, given that the Supreme Court has upheld the plan and states are not permitted to disregard federal law.
Owning All the Land and Water and Air
- Arizona Declaration of State Sovereignty Amendment (Proposition 120)
In one of the most unconventional propositions this year, Arizona is attempting to declare ownership of all “air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within the state’s boundaries.” If it passed, the Constitutionality of reclaiming federal parks and, most notably, the Grand Canyon, certainly will be contested in courts.
- Oklahoma Affirmative Action Band Amendment (Question 759)
As the Supreme Court currently hears a potentially affirmative-action ending case, Oklahoma similarly seeks to end affirmative action and forbid providing special treatment based on sex or race.
- Colorado Marijuana Legalization Amendment (Amendment 64)
- Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative (Question 3)
- Montana Medical Marijuana Veto Referendum (IR-124)
- Oregon Cannabis Tax Act Initiative (Measure 80)
- Washington Marijuana Legalization and Regulation (Initiative 502)
Massachusetts seeks to legalize medicinal marijuana, while Montana wants to get its medicinal marijuana rules off the books (the issue has been a constant battle for the past decade). Although medicinal marijuana is already legal in Colorado, the current push is to expand to recreational use, as well. Washington’s initiative is also for recreational use. Meanwhile, Oregon seeks to create an official commission to grow and sell cannabis to state residents.
- Florida Abortion (Amendment 6)
- Montana Parental Notification Measure (LR-120)
Florida’s proposal would forbid abortions from being paid for with public funds, while Montana’s would necessitate that minors have parental permission before obtaining an abortion.
- Idaho Teachers’ Collective Bargaining Veto Referendums (Propositions 1 and 2)
- Michigan “Protect Our Jobs” Amendment (Proposal 2)
- South Dakota Teachers’ Union Veto Referendum (Referred Law 16)
Both Idaho and South Dakota’s politicians have recently passed legislation that disempowers teachers’ unions, similar to what we’ve seen in Wisconsin. These propositions aim to repeal the laws and regain the teachers’ collective bargaining rights. On the other hand, Michigan has pro-union legislation on the table, hoping to make collective bargaining rights for both public and private sector workers a part of Michigan’s Constitution.
- Louisiana Right to Bear Arms (Amendment 2)
Amendment 2 strengthens existing gun laws to grant gun owners additional rights and protections. Supporters hope it will maintain the 2nd Amendment, while opponents worry it could lead to overturning certain concealed carry restrictions.
- Massachusetts “Death with Dignity” Initiative (Question 2)
With the people’s permission, Massachusetts attempts to become the fourth state (joining Oregon, Washington, and Montana) to permit assisted suicide for suffering terminally ill patients. It’s a complex issue with people on both sides of the debate arguing morality.
Casinos and Gaming
- Arkansas Casino Amendments (Issue 3 and 4)
- Maryland Gaming Expansion (Question 7)
- Oregon Privately-Owned Casinos Amendment (Measure 82)
Three states are looking to boost their economies by changing their gambling laws. While Arkansas and Oregon have proposals to permit full casinos in the state, Maryland would permit the construction of one more casino, as well as the addition of table games to existing casinos.
Jim Crow Laws (Yes, Really)
- Alabama Segregation Reference Ban Amendment (Amendment 4)
111 years after their passage, Jim Crow laws and language still remain a part of Alabama’s Constitution. A similar Amendment barely lost in 2004. While proponents argue that not changing it it contributes to the state’s racist reputation, critics say that the amendment may have greater repercussions because it also effectively removes part that guarantees children the right to an education (albeit a segregated one).
- California End the Death Penalty Initiative (Proposition 34)
California may join nearly 20 other states to outlaw the death penalty, instead changing the harshest possible sentence to life in prison without the opportunity for parole. With over 700 Californians currently on death row, their sentences would therefore be reduced to life in prison. No one has been executed in California in more than five years because of current lawsuits pertaining to the state’s lethal injection practices.
- Maryland In-State Tuition Referendum (Question 4)
Despite the name, this referendum really takes aim at Obama’s Dream Act. Supporters of the proposal do not wish to allow undocumented immigrants to attend college at in-state tuition rates as the law currently permits, arguing that it is a waste of resources to educate someone who is later eligible for deportation. Opponents see the proposal as discriminatory.
With thanks to Ballotpedia
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