Full ballot: Voter ID, tax hike among measures being put in voters' hands in November

Stateline Midwest ~ July/August 2012

Name the hot-button issue in state government these days, and it’s likely to appear this fall on a statewide ballot somewhere in the Midwest.

In Minnesota, voters will decide whether to join the seven other Midwestern states with a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage (see time line below). The state’s residents will also likely determine the fate of a controversial photo-ID requirement for voters. Since 2009, legislatures in states such as Kansas and Wisconsin have passed bills with stricter voter-ID rules. But in Minnesota, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has stopped voter-ID bills by the Republican-led Legislature. Lawmakers voted earlier this year to send the proposal to a statewide vote.

Illinois legislators, meanwhile, are asking their constituents to weigh in on a dominant fiscal issue in that state — pension reform. The proposed constitutional amendment would require a three-fifths vote by any governing body before an increase in pension benefits for public employees could be adopted.

In Nebraska, two separate votes will directly impact members of the Unicameral Legislature. Under the first proposed constitutional amendment, a state senator could serve up to three consecutive four-year terms; the current cap is two four-year terms. The second proposal would increase the salaries of legislators from $12,000 to $22,500. (The wages of Nebraska senators are set in the Constitution, and as  a result, any changes require voter approval.)

A proposed tax hike is one of as many as seven measures that will appear on South Dakota ballots this November. The proposal calls for the sales tax rate to increase from 4 percent to 5 percent; the increased revenue would go to K-12 education and Medicaid.

In all, at least 16 ballot measures will appear on ballots in the 11-state Midwest — and possibly many more.

Michigan voters, for example, could be voting on proposals to expand casino gaming, strengthen the state’s renewable energy standard, guarantee collective bargaining rights, and rescind a controversial emergency-manager law that affects fiscally troubled local governments. As of June, several ballot proposals were also being pushed in Ohio and North Dakota — including proposals in both states to legalize medical marijuana, a “personhood amendment” and redistricting reform in Ohio, and measures in North Dakota to strengthen animal-cruelty laws and enshrine the right to farm and ranch.