Voters decided only 28 state-level ballot propositions in 2015, as direct democracy activity continued to cool in the 21st century. High profile issues included rejection of marijuana legalization in Ohio, selection of the chief justice in Wisconsin, and sales tax changes in Michigan and Washington.

On November 8, 2016, California voters will head to the polls to vote on the legalization of recreational marijuana. According to Fortune, eight states are expected to vote on marijuana initiatives this November.

CSG Midwest

Voters in North Dakota have overturned a legislative decision in 2015 to provide new exemptions to the state’s decades-old ban on corporate farming. Under last year’s law (SB 2351), corporations were allowed to own up to 640 acres for pork and dairy operations. (Corporate ownership of any other type of farming operation, or of farmland, remained illegal.)

2016 appears poised to be another big year for state and local transportation-related ballot initiatives following a big year in 2015. While voters won't consider many of them until November, a handful have already been decided in primary and special elections this Spring. Public transit funding appears to be the major focus of many 2016 ballot measures but funding for roads and other modes is also receiving attention, as are policy changes that seem designed to pave the way for future transportation funding enhancements.

CSG Midwest
Shortly before the close of the 19th century, the citizens of South Dakota approved a constitutional amendment authorizing the use of two new tools of direct democracy, the voter initiative and the popular referendum.
The first-of-its-kind state constitutional provision heralded a new era in voter participation in the lawmaking process, even as it reflected longstanding American traditions of civic engagement dating back to New England’s earliest town hall meetings.

On October 10, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill passed by the California State Assembly that will automatically register to vote all eligible voters when they obtain or renew their driver’s licenses at any California Department of Motor Vehicles branch, instead of requiring them to fill out a form. Those eligible may opt out of voter registration and those existing registered voters will still be able to change party affiliation or cancel their registration entirely.  Approximately 6.6 million unregistered but...

A ballot initiative to establish a single-payer health care system in Colorado has been approved for the Nov. 2016 ballot. Supporters turned in 158,831 signatures and after reviewing a five percent sample, the secretary of state’s office certified Initiative 20, the “State Health Care System.”

As I wrote last week, Tuesday was a big Election Day for transportation in a number of places around the country. Statewide ballot measures, for example, won approval in Maine and Texas and local measures were approved in Seattle, two Colorado towns and a handful of Utah counties. But it wasn’t just at the ballot box that transportation was a focus of policy decisions. The U.S. House of Representatives worked their way toward passage of a long-term transportation bill. And Michigan lawmakers approved a long-in-the-works, $1.2 billion road funding bill that includes the eighth gas tax increase approved by a state this year. Here’s a roundup of transportation-related election results and updates on some of this week’s other key transportation developments.

Voters looked favorably on ballot propositions in 2014, approving 67 percent of the 158 measures they decided. Marijuana advocates scored important victories in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., and minimum wage advocates continued their unbroken run of successful measures in five more states.

The opinion upholds the constitutionality of the redistricting commission as a method to draw congressional and legislative redistricting lines after a Census.     

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