Bal­lot mea­sures in ’12 re­flect cit­i­zens’ ire

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

Bal­lot mea­sures on marijuana and mar­riage are draw­ing the lion’s share of me­dia at­ten­tion across the coun­try, but other propo­si­tions in­cluded on this year’s bal­lot could af­fect ev­ery­thing from the food you eat to how much you pay in taxes.

Vot­ers will de­cide on 176 mea­sures in 38 states, up from 159 in 2010 and 153 in 2008, but still lower than the high-wa­ter mark of 204 propo­si­tions in 2006, ac­cord­ing to the Ini­tia­tive and Ref­er­en­dum In­sti­tute at the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

What’s unique is the num­ber of ci­ti­zen-led pop­u­lar or veto ref­er­en­dums. This year, 12 bal­lot mea­sures are aimed at over­turn­ing de­ci­sions by state leg­is­la­tures, in­clud­ing three in Mary­land deal­ing with tu­ition breaks for il­le­gal aliens, re­dis­trict­ing and same-sex mar­riage.

“In a typ­i­cal elec­tion year, we might see three or four pop­u­lar ref­er­en­dums, and this year we have 12,” said Jen­nie Bowser, se­nior fel­low at the Na­tional Con­fer­ence of State Leg­is­la­tures in Den­ver. “It’s all very par­ti­san and we’re see­ing it on both sides of the spec­trum. It’s that po­lit­i­cal po­lar­iza­tion play­ing out on the bal­lot.”

The mea­sure most likely to re­ver­ber­ate na­tion­ally is Cal­i­for­nia’s Propo­si­tion 37, which would re­quire com­pa­nies to la­bel ge­net­i­cally al­tered pro­duce and other food items. Food and chem­i­cal giants, such as Mon­santo and DuPont, have spent more than $40 mil­lion to de­feat the mea­sure, but if it passes, it could up­end the Mon­tana and Wy­oming — are con­sid­er­ing propo­si­tions that would for­bid com­pelling any busi­ness or per­son from par­tic­i­pat­ing in a health care sys­tem in what the IRI called “a partly sym­bolic judg­ment on the mer­its of ‘Oba­macare.’ ” Vot­ers in four states have al­ready ap­proved such mea­sures.

Unions play­ing de­fense and of­fense: Or­ga­nized la­bor is fight­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s Propo­si­tion 32, which would ban unions pay and school fund­ing. South Dakota unions are ask­ing vot­ers to over­turn re­cent leg­isla­tive ed­u­ca­tion re­forms, in­clud­ing a teacher-eval­u­a­tion stan­dard, merit-pay sys­tem and ten­ure elim­i­na­tion.

Rais­ing taxes for ed­u­ca­tion: Vot­ers were in no mood for a tax hike in 2010, and most states didn’t even try. This year, how­ever, a half-dozen states are at­tempt­ing to raise taxes in the name of ed­u­ca­tion. Cal­i­for­nia’s

What’s unique is the num­ber of ci­ti­zen-led pop­u­lar or veto ref­er­en­dums. This year, 12 bal­lot mea­sures are aimed at over­turn­ing de­ci­sions by state leg­is­la­tures, in­clud­ing three in Mary­land deal­ing with tu­ition breaks for

il­le­gal aliens, re­dis­trict­ing and same-sex mar­riage.

in­dus­try.

“Cal­i­for­nia is such a big mar­ket that it’s go­ing to change la­bel­ing na­tion­wide. That’s why the amount of money be­ing poured in is so mas­sive,” said Mrs. Bowser.

Some trends of the 2012 bal­lot sea­son in­clude:

Tak­ing a swipe at Pres­i­dent Obama’s Af­ford­able Care Act: The health care law re­mains a hot topic on the 2012 bal­lot. Four states — Alabama, Florida, from us­ing money from au­to­matic pay­check de­duc­tions for pol­i­tics with­out the ap­proval of its mem­bers. In the state of Michi­gan, la­bor unions are cham­pi­oning Pro­posal 2, which would en­shrine the right to col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing into the state con­sti­tu­tion.

In Idaho, teaches’ unions have spon­sored three mea­sures that would re­peal newly en­acted laws gov­ern­ing teacher con­tracts, teacher per­for­mance Propo­si­tion 30 is the big­gest of the bunch, a sales-and-in­come tax be­he­moth de­signed to gin up $6 bil­lion. Ari­zona’s Propo­si­tion 204 would make a tem­po­rary sales tax per­ma­nent, and Mis­souri’s Propo­si­tion B would in­crease the tobacco tax.

On the tax-re­duc­tion side: Ore­gon’s Mea­sure 84 would elim­i­nate the es­tate and in­her­i­tance tax, while Ok­la­homa’s State Ques­tion 758 would curb the growth of prop­erty taxes. New Hamp­shire has no state in­come tax, and Amend­ment Ques­tion 2 would make such a tax un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Dis­cour­ag­ing il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion: Mary­land vot­ers are be­ing asked whether to over­turn a 2011 law giv­ing in-state col­lege tu­ition rates to il­le­gal im­mi­grants who grad­u­ated from state high schools. Mon­tana’s LR-121 re­quires any­one ap­ply­ing for state ser­vices to pro­vide proof of cit­i­zen­ship.

Stand­ing up for hunters’ rights: Ne­braska and Wy­oming are con­sid­er­ing adding con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments that would es­tab­lish a right to fish and hunt. Idaho has pro­posed a sim­i­lar mea­sure as a statute. Four states ap­proved sim­i­lar mea­sures in 2010 in re­ac­tion to the anti-hunt­ing move­ment launched by an­i­mal-rights groups.

Abol­ish­ing cap­i­tal pu­n­ish­ment: Cal­i­for­nia re­in­stated cap­i­tal pu­n­ish­ment in 1978, but a fed­eral judge halted ex­e­cu­tions in 2006 af­ter find­ing fault with the state’s le­gal process. Propo­si­tion 34 would abol­ish cap­i­tal pu­n­ish­ment, com­mut­ing the sen­tences of the state’s 725 Death Row in­mates to life with­out pa­role.

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