By Bailey Ludlam, Johanna Herman and Al Ortiz
ALL REGIONS, United States: During the past five weeks, Ballotpedia has dissected ballot measures in each region of the United States, with the regional breakdown having started on September 30, 2010. Each week has featured one region of the United States, magnifying ballot measures in each state in that region, as well as comparing ballot measure counts in that region to that of the 2008 general election. Notable local measures in those particular regions were also highlighted in regional breakdown articles. Now, one day before the general election, Ballotpedia gives you each region that has been covered in the past five weeks, along with measures getting the most attention in those regions. To view each regional breakdown article Ballotpedia has done, click a region on the map and become informed on what proposals are on the ballot in your area.
Magnifying the regions
Washington is heavy with numerous measures worth keeping an eye on. Everything from liquor regulations to spending amendments appear on the ballot. According to state documents, more than $38.6 million has been raised thus far in either support or opposition for all citizen initiatives scheduled to appear on the ballot.
In particular, two tax initiatives take different approaches to the state’s spending woes. Initiative 1098 calls for implementing a state income tax on incomes of $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for couples. On the other hand, Initiative 1053, another tax-related measure, proposes requiring a two-thirds majority vote of the Washington State Legislature or a vote of the people for any tax increases.
Oregon, like Washington, has a heavy ballot with a wide array of topics. The measure to watch: Measure 74 proposes establishing a medical marijuana supply system, assistance and research programs and would allow limited selling of marijuana. Oregon is one of four states with marijuana related measures on the 2010 ballot.
- For a rundown of other states’ measures in this region, such as Montana’s much-talked about proposals, view Ballotpedia’s northwest regional breakdown article.
Unlike most states this year, Colorado’s ballot is heavy with citizen initiatives. Causing the greatest amount of controversy and discussion is a trio of spending-related measures: Proposition 101, Amendment 60 and 61. Supporters argue that the three measures will force government to operate more efficiently and cut bloated spending. Opponents, on the other hand, argue that the measures would devastate the state and “halt the pro-business environment.”
There are 10 measures on the November ballot in Arizona, but one that is causing a stir is Proposition 203, which would allow residents in the state with specific medical conditions to be treated with certain amounts of marijuana for personal use. According to the provisions of the initiative, the Arizona Department of Health Services would be put in charge of regulating the sale and use of medical marijuana. Supporters state that the medicine is beneficial to those who would be eligible to obtain the medicine, while opponents counter that the measure is a smokescreen for patients who could abuse the drug.
- To view the controversial Oklahoma measures on the ballot, check out the southwest regional breakdown article.
In November, voters will vote on taxes, election reform and animal rights. All three certified citizen initiatives in Missouri have become some of the most discussed measures of the year. One of the most debated includes - Amendment 3 which proposes prohibiting the tax of real estate sales or transfer of real estate. The campaign effort in support of the proposed measure has drawn in more than $3 million dollars as of early October.
Tax measures in the region are not limited to the state of Missouri, however, as in Indiana, voters will decide on Public Question 1, which would add property tax caps to the Indiana Constitution. Polls taken in the state have shown a strong support for the measure, while opponents have conceded that the measure will likely pass.
- For other measures in this region, like Iowa and Michigan’s Constitutional Convention questions, view Ballotpedia’s regional breakdown of the midwest.
Fiscal issues are hot this year and there’s no exception in Virginia. Virginia is one of about five states that propose a ballot question involving revenue stabilization or rainy day funds on the November 2010 ballot. Question 3 asks voters if they approve of directing “10 percent to 15 percent of the Commonwealth’s average annual tax revenues derived from income and retail sales taxes for the preceding three fiscal year” to a “rainy day fund.”
Staying with the fiscal issues are two tax measures on the Massachusetts ballot. Question 1 would repeal the sales tax for alcohol sales, while Question 3 would roll back the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent. There has been a strong showing of opposition among state newspapers of the measures, but polls for Question 3 have shown that residents surveyed seem to be split on the issue.
- For the ballot measure happenings in states like Maine, which has a casino measure on the ballot, view Ballotpedia’s breakdown of the northeast region.
At its all time peak, the Florida ballot had a total of 10 certified measures; however, voters will cast their votes on only 7 measures. Florida is certainly one the state’s with the some of the most disputed measures and not just due to the post-certification legal battles. Of the certified measures, the most debated include: Amendment 4 – comprehensive land use plansand Amendments 5 and 6 – redistricting measures.
Like other Southeastern states such as South Carolina and neighboring Tennessee, the issue of the right to hunt and fish will be on the Arkansas ballot this year. Issue 1 asks voters whether or not to allow residents the right to hunt, fish, trap, and harvest wildlife in the state. The Arkansas Legislature can only refer up to three constitutional amendments to the Arkansas Constitution for any one ballot. This measure is one of three legislatively-referred constitutional amendments that are on the ballot in 2010.
- Not sure what’s going on in Alabama, Louisiana or North Carolina, where the position of county sheriff could be affected? Go to Ballotpedia’s southeast regional breakdown article.
Local measure activity
Northwest: In the state of Oregon, 16 counties have listed items on their county websites to be included on the November 2 ballot. Out of those 16 counties, 81 measures will be voted on, with a few in multiple counties. Of those 81 measures, 18 deal with various tax issues, 20 with different proposed charter amendments and 15 on issues on annexation. Only 9 school issues will be voted in the counties, 5 having to do with school property taxes and 4 dealing with school bonds. The rest of the issues deal with term limits, utility fee questions, bond issues and other various specific issues. In Washington, a red light camera measure will be voted on by Mukilteo city residents. This was initially a petition to stop the city from installing cameras, but now that the city went back on this plan, it is now a measure to ensure if the city ever wanted to install them a vote would be required. Red light cameras are an issue all over the country.
Southwest: In Denver, the Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission Creation referendum will be voted on by local residents. It would establish a commission to investigate phenomena, but also to try to encourage more open policies with the US government concerning alien life on earth. While some note it is far fetched to even have this issue on the ballot the man who proposed and collected signatures for it heartily agrees that this would only benefit the people of Denver.
Midwest: In Ohio, an Ottawa Hills Deer Culling referendum measure will be voted on by residents. The proponents claim there are too many deer in the town and see fit to kill those in excess in order to save people the trouble of having eaten flowers. But opponents see more reasonable ways to stop the deer. Only professionals would be able to kill the deer if this is approved, but some would argue there is no reason to kill deer who have not harmed anyone.
Northeast: The Anne Arundel Mills Mall casino referendum is one of the most notable local measures of the Northeast region, as opponents and supporters have made their voices heard in their respective campaigns. In November of 2008, there was a Maryland casino measure on the ballot, where voters approved the placement of slots in five locations throughout Maryland, one being in Anne Arundel county. It was later decided that the Anne Arundel slot location would be at the Anne Arundel Mills Mall. During the 2009 election, 59% of voters approved the placement of slots in Anne Arundel county. A coalition of anti-slot activists and Maryland horsemen then gathered the required 19,000 signatures needed to suspend the approval and have county voters decide to approve the location or not. After two separate pieces of litigation stalled the efforts to place the measure on the ballot, it was ruled by the The Court of Appeals that the measure could stay on the ballot. The measure was first ruled invalid because it was said that the slots were a part of a zoning appropriation package and such issues were not valid for referendum under state laws.
Southeast: In Florida, an Alachua County Airboat Curfew measure would enact a curfew for the use of airboats on the nearby lakes. Proponents of the measure noted that those on the airboats have a tendency to get load and rowdy at all hours of the night, but Airboaters stated that it was their right to boat whenever they pleased regardless of the complaints. It was noted that those causing the problems would be better stopped if law enforcement better observed the rules on alcohol consumption.