Ballot Initiatives

After surviving a legal challenge last week, voters in Arkansas got the chance to decide at the polls if the minimum wage in their state should be raised. By a significant margin, they said yes. With most counties reporting, the measure to raise the minimum wage in the state passed 66 to 34 percent. That means minimum wage workers in Arkansas will see a few pay raises - first from $6.25 to $7.50 on Jan. 1, 2015 then twice more over the next two years, until it reaches $8.50 in 2017.

Colorado voters will be asked to decide if K-12 education should be funded in part by expanding gambling opportunities by adding slot machines and game tables at horse racetracks.  Money deposited into the K-12 Education Fund would be dispensed to local school districts on a per-pupil basis.  These dollars would be required to be utilized on reducing class size, obtaining technology for teachers and students, enhancing school safety and security and improving school facilitites.

When North Dakota parents hit the polls on Election Day they will cast their vote on Measure 8, the North Dakota School Year Begins After Labor Day Initiative.  Voters will determine whether or not public school classes will begin after Labor Day.  

Oil and gas development is booming in North Dakota, bringing in millions of dollars in tax revenues.  Proposed Ballot Measure 5 seeks to redirect 5% of the state’s share of oil extraction taxes towards clean water, wildlife and parks. 

The measure would add a new section to the North Dakota constitution creating both a Clean Water, Wildlife Parks Trust and a Fund.  Ten percent of the redirected money would go in...

The Washington Supreme Court ruled the state wasn't meeting its constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education in the 2012 case McCleary v. State of Washington.  The legislature was instructed to provide billions of dollars of additional funding by the 2017/18 school year.  Estimates show the cost to the state is approximately $3.4 billion with an even higher cost to local school districts.  On the November statewide ballot the citizens will decide one piece of the puzzle by determining if class sizes should be reduced prompting a need to hire an additional 15,000 teachers.

Voters in Massachusetts will decide the fate of resort casinos based on results of The Affordable Casino Repeal Initiative, Question 3.  In the November statewide ballot the issue will be given to voters.  A yes vote means no casinos in the state while a no vote would uphold the current law and facilitate the licensing of up to three resort-style casinos.

This November election New Jersey residents will have the opportunity to vote on a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.  Public Question No. 2 would dedicate 6% of Corporation Business Tax revenue to the preservation of open space, farmland and historic sites while ending the current dedication of 4% of the same revenue for environmental programs.  The new allocation would last 30 years through 2045.  The measure would also dedicate...

Missouri voters will vote on Tuesday on a constitutional amendment requiring school districts to implement new performance evaluations for teachers. Though individual districts would have some freedom in developing evaluation mechanisms, the proposed amendment mandates that a majority of the evaluation must be comprised of quantifiable student growth measures. In other words, Missouri teachers would be evaluated mostly on the performance of their students on end-of-year tests, a practice that has gained national traction among lawmakers and spurred criticism from teacher unions.

Oregon voters will decide Nov. 4 whether to overturn a state law that grants driver’s cards to Oregonians who can’t prove legal residency. The legislature passed the bill in 2013, but opponents of the law gathered enough signatures to send the measure to the polls as a ballot initiative. The outcome—if enough people oppose the law—could stop it dead in its tracks. 

Over the last decade public opinion about marijuana seems to have shifted dramatically in favor of reforming and decriminalizing existing state marijuana laws.  In 2012 Colorado and Washington voted to legalize recreational marijuana.  Over 20 other states permit the use of medical marijuana in various forms.    This year voters in several more states will consider ballot initiatives that would legalize marijuana use for recreational or medicinal purposes.  Highlighted below are several key states to watch on election day.