Welcome to the Friday, December 16, Brew.
By: Douglas Kronaizl
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Voters approved 71% of constitutional amendments on the ballot in 2022
- It’s the Fifth Day of the 15 Days of Ballotpedia!
- Arizona and Florida announce plans to divest from BlackRock
Voters approved 71% of constitutional amendments on the ballot in 2022
Voters in 34 states decided 99 constitutional amendments in 2022, approving 70 (71%) and defeating 29 (29%).
Between 2006 and 2022, that approval percentage has ranged from a low of 63% in 2008 to a high of 74% in 2006 and 2020. During that time, the average approval rate was 70%.
There are four ways constitutional amendments can be placed on the ballot:
- Legislatively referred constitutional amendments. Every state but Delaware requires voter approval for changes to its constitutions.
- Initiated constitutional amendments put on the ballot through a citizen petition drive, allowed in 18 states.
- Constitutional conventions. In some states, automatic ballot referrals allow voters to decide at regular intervals whether to hold a convention to rewrite their state constitution.
- A commission-referred amendment process, only used in Florida.
This year, legislatures placed 88 of the 99 amendments on the ballot, and 11 were added through citizen initiatives. Voters approved 71% of the referred amendments and 73% of the initiated amendments.
Alabama and Louisiana had the most amendments on their ballots with 11 each. For Alabama, this does not include the question regarding the recompilation of its state constitution. Alabamans approved all 11 amendments (100%) and Louisianans approved six (55%).
Voters in nine states decided a single amendment. Seven approved their amendments and two—New Hampshire and Utah—rejected theirs.
Sixteen states did not have any amendments on the ballot this year.
It’s the Fifth Day of the 15 Days of Ballotpedia!
Each day, we have showcased the different ways Ballotpedia works towards our mission of building a well-informed and engaged citizenry that has a voice in government and can sustain a healthy country.
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Today, we are highlighting our expanded coverage of local school board elections!
It is vital that Americans have a resource they can trust to help them make what they feel are the best, and most informed, choices for our schools. Ballotpedia’s core coverage scope includes more than 400 of the largest school districts in the country, plus we produce detailed analyses of conflicts over some of the most-discussed education issues of the day. All of this and more makes it into our Hall Pass newsletter.
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Arizona and Florida announce plans to divest state funds from BlackRock
Since the beginning of December, state financial officers in Arizona and Florida have announced they will divest state funds from BlackRock, an investment company and the world’s largest asset manager.
Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee (R) made her announcement on Dec. 8, one week after Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis (R) made his.
These moves were among several recent state official actions responding to the environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investing strategy.
ESG, in the context of public policy, refers to the consideration of non-financial factors in the management of public funds. These factors can include company alignment with fund managers’ views on climate change, social justice, and diversity and how such factors could affect company values and risks.
BlackRock says it considers ESG factors in its investments to represent clients better and protect investments long-term. According to the company’s website, “Our activities to integrate sustainability considerations into the investment process mirror the diversity of the clients we serve.”
In Arizona, Yee said BlackRock CEO Larry Fink used the firm’s assets to make businesses behave according to his political beliefs, adding, “In short, BlackRock moved from a traditional asset manager to a political action committee.” Arizona will divest $543 million.
In Florida, Patronis said, “Using our cash … to fund BlackRock’s social-engineering project isn’t something Florida ever signed up for.” Florida will divest around $2 billion.
As of October, BlackRock managed just under $8 trillion in assets.
In his 2022 letter to CEOs, Fink wrote: “Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics. It is not a social or ideological agenda … It is capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relationships between you and the employee, customers, suppliers, and communities your company relies on to prosper.”
To date, Ballotpedia has tracked seven other state financial officers who have issued statements announcing divestments from BlackRock’s management in 2022 related to the firm’s ESG investing strategy. All seven officers are Republicans.
Sixty-eight of the country’s 105 state financial officers were up for direct or indirect election in 2022, including Patronis and Yee. Patronis defeated former state Rep. Adam Hattersley (D) 59% to 41%. Yee defeated state Sen. Martin Quezada (D) 56% to 44%.
Overall, Republicans controlled 56 offices heading into November, Democrats controlled 42, and the remaining seven had unclear partisan affiliations.
Republicans gained five offices that Democrats previously held, defeating two incumbents in the process. Democrats gained full appointment authority in two states, where they had previously not had the authority or shared the authority with Republicans.
As a result, Republicans will control 60 offices heading into 2023, Democrats will control 39, and six incumbents have unclear partisan affiliations.