Ballot Initiatives

With Election Day 2014 less than a week away, voters in five states will decide on ballot propositions specifically addressing voting rights and election administration.

On Election Day 2014, voters in Arkansas will decide if the 30,000 people in their state who earn the minimum wage should get a raise for the New Year. The ballot measure, called the Arkansas Minimum Wage Initiative, would give minimum wage earners a $0.25/hour raise on Jan. 1, 2015 - equal to about $40 more a month for a full-time worker. The measure would raise the wage twice more over the next two years, until it reaches $8.50 in 2017.

Voters in several states will consider the fate of transportation-related ballot measures in next week’s election. I have a refresher on the statewide measures in play as well as some local and county ballot measures to watch. Plus a number of items on how transportation is playing as an issue in a number of fall campaigns and how it could be on the agenda for state legislatures next year. As always, I also have my regular roundup of items on the future of the federal transportation program, state transportation funding efforts, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

Ballot initiatives in two states-Colorado and Oregon-address labeling for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Currently, neither state requires labeling for genetically modified food. Both Colorado Proposition 105, known as the Colorado Right to Know Act, and Oregon Measure 92, known as the Oregon Mandatory Labeling of GMOs Initiative, would require foods that were produced with or contain genetically modified organisms to be labeled. 

Proposition 47, the Reduced Penalties for some Crime Initiative, is currently on the November ballot in California. The initiative would reduce the classification of most “nonserious and nonviolent property and drug crimes” from a felony to a misdemeanor crime. These crimes include personal drug use, shoplifting, grand theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, fraud, writing a bad check, as long as the amount does not exceed $950. The proposition...

On Election Day 2014, voters in four states - Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota - will decide if minimum wage workers in their state should get a raise. If voters in all four states approve a wage increase, at least 57,000 minimum wage earners would be affected and would join workers in 16 other states who are scheduled to see a wage increase on Jan. 1, 2015.

Dry counties could soon be a thing of the past in Arkansas. On November 4, voters will decide by ballot initiative whether or not to keep the current system of dry and mixed counties. Passage of the measure would effectively take away the power of counties to regulate their own alcohol sales. The Alcoholic Beverage Initiative is being met with resistance from religious groups, local rights groups, and the Arkansas Beverage Retailers Association.

Ballot Measure 4 touches on a familiar topic to many Alaskans – the Bristol Bay.  The bay is a 36,000 square mile fisheries reserve established by the Alaska state legislature in 1972.  As part of the legislation it required that a surface entry permit for oil and gas on state owned or controlled lands be subject to approval of the legislature to protect the fishery.  Proposed...

Two firearms initiatives are on the upcoming November 2014 ballot in Washington State. Initiative 594 would require background checks on all gun purchasers and Initiative 591 would prevent the confiscation of firearms without due process and would also prevent the state from implementing background checks unless a federal standard is established.  

Voters decided 31 state-level propositions in 2013, a slow year for citizen lawmaking. The most controversial measures were a tax increase in Colorado and GMO food labeling in Washington. Voters also decided a large number of local ballot propositions, addressing a number of high profile issues, including minimum wage, marijuana legalization and pension reform.

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