Hot ballot initiatives from around the country that we'll be tracking for you:
Here's where adult indulgences might clash with parental instincts to protect one's kids--do as I say, but not as I do?
Arguments against legalization say that legality is akin to promotion, that pot is a gateway drug to stronger narcotics, and the intiative may be poorly written in such a way as to conflict with federal law restricting marijuana's sale and use, removing the ability of employers to "maintain a drug-free workplace consistent with federal law." Law enforcement officers are concerned they'll lose an important tool in the larger battle to control the trafficking of illicit substances.
Proponents see legalization as a way to regulate an already-thriving underground business and add to tax coffers in a rare exchange of freer use for willingness to open up new revenue for the state. Yes on Prop 19 folks argue that the initiative is written to prevent minors under the age of 21 access and that legality covers personal use only. In addition, those pro-19 say that the intiative accounts for increased criminal penalties for use, possession or distribution of marijuana for those under 21.
Public opinion polls show a slight majority against legalization, with some partisans against Prop 19 claiming that "support is evaporating faster than bong water at Burning Man...claims of benefits by proponents just aren't true."
[Updated at 6:10 pm PT] Some sources are saying Prop 19 isn't getting the youth turnout pundits thought were a shoo-in for this initiative.
Here's a quick hit from the LA Times about how both pro and con are using law enforcement to bolster their arguments.
[Updated at 10:02 pm PT]
Looks like the Bay Area supported Prop 19 strongly, along with a stong contingent of the youth vote, but the rest of the state had hesitations. From the linked article:
It lost 54% to 46% in Los Angeles County, and 59% to 41% in the rest of Southern California.
Men and women opposed it. Voters of every race and ethnicity opposed it.
Most importantly, older voters were decisively against the proposition and the midterm elections skewed toward their demographic.
Initiative 1098: Levy a State Income Tax (for the first time) on Adjusted Gross Incomes (AGI) for Single Filers Above $200,000 (Joint Filers Above $400,000)
In a state where Microsoft millionaires and regular joes enjoy no--as in ZERO--state income taxes, this initiative would place a 5% tax on the highest-paid earners of the state (married joint filers with AGI of $400,000 and up, $30,000 plus 9% of the amount above $1,000,000). Also included: provisions that would reduce property taxes by 20% and allow a tax credit of up to $4,800 for a "business and occupation" tax.
Those in favor include Bill Gates Sr. (yes, father of that guy) and people welcoming estimated tax benefits to the state in an amount estimated to be $11 billion over five years.
Those opposed argue that this tax on people with high incomes will open doors to state income taxes on everyone, regardless of AGI, if this measure passes. They also claim that fewer jobs will be created and the wealthy will abandon the state.
[UPDATED 8:17 pm PT]
And it looks like Initiative 1098 has passed, with substantial support from big unions in Washington state. They argued that the sales tax was regressive and that seemed to resonate with pinched midde class voters.
[UPDATED 11-03-10, 7:07 am PT]
Whoops--my bad. Looks like last night's returns weren't as conclusive as I thought. Voters actually defeated this income tax initiative on the super-wealthy in Washington state.
Amendment 62, Fetal Personhood: "Section 32. Person defined. As used in sections 3, 6, and
25 of Article II of the state constitution, the term "person"
shall apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological
development of that human being."
This initiative would change the Colorado state constitution (pdf) to define personhood as beginning at conception. If passed, every pregnant woman or girl would have to carry to term -- with no exceptions for the health of the mother or in cases of rape or incest. The amendment would also severely curtail stem-cell research and some forms of birth control. In-vitro fertilization would no longer be widely available.
A similar initiative, Amendment 48, was voted upon and lost in 2008.
Backers of Amendment 62 argue that life begins at conception and the state should protect the lives of its residents.
Opponents of Amendment 62 argue that abortion is legal under Roe v. Wade, as is contraception; and that women experiencing miscarriages or pregnancies that would endanger their lives (or as a result of rape or incest) would have no recourse under this constitutional amendment. The status of existing fertilized eggs held for IVF would also be in question.
UPDATED [7:06 pm PT]
The amendment is at 75% voting no, 25% voting yes, with about 3200 precincts reporting and results still coming in.
[UPDATED 11-03-10 8:28 am PT]
Defeated, 70% voting no, 30% voting yes.
Oklahoma [updated at 4:11 pm PT]
"Save Our State"/State Question 755, would formally adopt the existing use of federal and state law as the sole code used to determine court rulings in the state of Oklahoma. It would ban courts from relying on international law and specify that Sharia law, a set of laws based on Islamic teachings in the Quran that vary from country to country, not be used to resolve disputes.
n the history of the Oklahoma state court system, no one has ever attempted to apply sharia law to any case. Currently, in Oklahoma there are approximately 15,000 Muslims out of a total state population of 3.7 million, or .4% of the people.
Those in favor say that this pre-emptive act will prevent "a storm on the horizon in other states" from becoming a problem in Oklahoma.
Those against, who seem to be in the minority (24% opposed, 49% for) argue that the First Amendment's Establishment clause prohibits the state (on any level) from establishing a governmental religion and that other provisions ensure an appropriate separation of church and state. Most critics of the pointless law identify its use as bait to attract fundamentalist Christian voters to the polls on election day.
Given the outcry earlier this fall regarding the construction of Park 51, a public community center with sports and other facilities as well as an Islamic prayer room in southern Manhattan, it'll be interesting to see how the "heartland" votes on this initiative. Oklahoma was of course the site of domestic bomber Timothy McVeigh's violent destruction of the federal building there fifteen years ago.
UPDATED 6:21 pm PT
Arizona [updated at 5:05 pm PT]
Prop 106: bucks the federal mandate that Americans purchase health insurance (with means testing for subsidies to working class and middle class Americans to enable them to purchase coverage) as part of the new Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act. Conflicts with imposition of fines for noncompliance in the federal law. The initiative would amend the state constitution and inevitably launch a series of lawsuits contesting states' ability to make law on this matter versus the federal government. (Similar ballot initiatives are being voted on in Colorado and Oklahoma as well to amend the state constitutions.)
States could also file suit to argue that the health law violates
their 10th Amendment rights to keep powers not otherwise delegated to
the federal government by the U.S. Constitution.
Opponents of the ballot amendments say the measures could complicate health care issues within the states.
Michael Pramenko, president of the Colorado Medical Society, which
opposes the ballot initiative, said the amendment could affect any state
efforts to set up a program to expand insurance coverage. "It would
tie our hands at the state level," he said, adding that the amendment
would prevent the state from setting up its own version of the
individual mandate, independent of the federal government, in the
In 2008, Prop 101, a similar initiative failed to win. Nearly two years and several millions of dollars of health industry lobbyist dollars later, the proposed constitutional amendment faces a much different voter landscape. It remains to be seen whether Arizonans want the removal of protections such as and end to pre-existing condition exclusions, inclusion of married or single children up to the age of 26, and free preventive care as provided by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act now, or if they'll elect to take their chances with unchecked rate increases under individual private insurance as is the status quo. If they choose to go it alone, they may forsake the improved aggregate buying power of the insurance exchanges set to come online in 2014.
[UPDATED 10:29 pm PT]
Arizona's Prop 106 looks like it's winning, 55% in support of changing the state constitution to prevent participation in the federal health insurance reform bill. However, Colorado's Amendment 63, which proposes some of the same in a state constitutional amendment, looks like it may be spurned by that state's voters in roughly the same proportions, 55% choosing to reject the initiative, 45% for.
[UPDATED 8:31 am PT]
Arizona passed Prop 106, 55% in favor to 45% against. Look for this to be one arrow in the sling of states organizing against the federal health insurance reform law.
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