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Proposals In Other States Hint At Michigan’s Future Ballot Questions

September 27, 2016

Michigan is going into November without a single statewide ballot question.  That’s not the case elsewhere in the United States, though. There is a slew of referendums outside of Michigan, provoked by legislature and citizen initiatives, and in states similar to Michigan demographically they may provide a clue for what’s to come in future cycles.

The question of recreation marijuana’s legalization will be on the ballot in five states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — and the legalization of medical marijuana, or its further regulations, is up for a vote in several others.

In Pennsylvania and Oregon, there are movements to amend judicial age limits, an issue that has gained some visibility in Michigan recently.

Pennsylvania is looking to increase its age limit from 70 to 75 years of age, while Oregon would remove its 75-year-old cap entirely. They are both legislatively imposed questions. One Court of Appeals judge’s effort to draw attention to the cause here has since petered out.

Maine, known for its independently minded electorate, has an initiative on the ballot that would convert all state and congressional elections from the traditional “first past the post” method of determining a victor, which Michigan uses, to the more nuanced system of “ranked-choice” voting.

California has a transparency-minded citizens’ initiative that will ask voters if they want to require the Legislature to have all ballots be available in print and on the Internet for at least 72 hours before they can be put up for a vote, making last-minute lame-duck efforts perhaps a bit more challenging. It would also require audiovisual records for all proceedings be available free online.

That state is also facing a proposal to increase income taxes by 3 percent on all income above $200,000, which will increase revenues for primary education. Oklahoma, similarly, may instate a 1 percent sales tax for the same purpose. Both are citizens’ initiatives.

In the energy market, Florida has an initiative that would allow citizens to own or lease solar equipment on their own property for their own use and prohibits penalizations for having such equipment. Nevada ballots in a similar vein will have an initiative that will prohibit the legal monopolies of electric utilities.

The Pacific Northwest has a couple of more liberal proposals, including a proposal in Oregon to increase the minimum corporate tax and a carbon emissions tax on electricity producers in Washington. Both are citizen driven.

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