Welcome to the Monday, December 11, 2023, Brew.
By: Juan Garcia de Paredes
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- At least 16 abortion-related measures could appear on the ballot in 2024
- Oklahoma City will vote on a 1% sales tax to fund new Oklahoma City Thunder basketball arena
At least 16 abortion-related measures could appear on the ballot in 2024
In November, Ohio voters approved Issue 1, a constitutional amendment that established the right to have an abortion in the state. This amendment was one of seven statewide abortion-related measures that have been on the ballot since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overruled Roe v. Wade.
More such measures will appear on the ballot next year.
In November 2024, voters in Maryland and New York will decide on abortion-related constitutional amendments. Additionally, 14 other measures have been proposed in 11 states. These measures are either in the process of gathering signatures or awaiting approval by the state legislature to qualify for the ballot.
Of the 16 proposed and confirmed abortion-related measure campaigns in 2024:
- 12 are campaigns that describe themselves as pro-choice or pro-reproductive rights
- Four are campaigns that describe themselves as pro-life
The map below shows the positions of the confirmed and proposed ballot measure campaigns for 2024.
States with confirmed abortion-related ballot measures in 2024
- Maryland: Voters will decide on an amendment to establish a right to reproductive freedom, defined to include abortion, on Nov. 8, 2024. The Maryland Legislature referred the amendment to the ballot. Maryland has a Democratic trifecta, meaning the party controls the governorship and both chambers of the Legislature.
- New York: Voters will decide on a constitutional amendment to prohibit the denial of rights to an individual based on their “pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy,” along with other classes like ethnicity, disability, age, and sex. The New York Legislature referred the amendment to the ballot. New York has a Democratic trifecta, meaning the party controls the governorship and both chambers of the Legislature.
States with potential abortion-related ballot measures in 2024
- Arizona: The group Arizona for Abortion Access filed an initiative and launched a signature drive in September 2023 to put the Arizona Right to Abortion Initiative on the ballot. The amendment would establish a fundamental right to abortion that the state of Arizona may not interfere with before the point of fetal viability.
- Status: Cleared for signature gathering. The deadline to submit signatures is July 4, 2024.
- Arkansas: The group Arkansans for Limited Government formed to sponsor a citizen initiative that would amend the Arkansas Constitution to prohibit laws or policies restricting abortion access within 18 weeks of conception. The amendment would also prohibit laws that restrict abortion in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal anomaly, or when an abortion is needed to protect the life or health of the mother.
- Status: On Nov. 28, Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin (R) rejected the ballot language. The attorney general must approve the amendment’s ballot language for signature gathering to begin.
- Colorado: Two initiatives that would amend Colorado law regarding abortion are currently gathering signatures. One initiative would prohibit the state or local governments from denying or impeding the right to an abortion and would allow abortion to be a covered service under health insurance plans. The other initiative would prohibit abortion in the state.
- Status: Both initiatives are cleared for signature gathering. The deadline to gather signatures for the initiative that would prohibit the state from denying the right to an abortion is April 26, 2024. The deadline for the initiative that would prohibit abortion is April 18, 2024.
- Florida: The group Floridians Protecting Freedom is leading a campaign for a constitutional amendment that would provide that “no law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.”
- Status: The Florida Supreme COurt has the initiative under review.
- Iowa: The Iowa Legislature passed an amendment in 2021 saying, “this Constitution does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion.”
- Status: The amendment passed both chambers of the Legislature in 2021. For the amendment to appear on the ballot in 2024, both chambers must pass it again.
- Missouri: Two abortion-related citizen-initiated constitutional amendments were approved to gather signatures. One would establish a right to reproductive freedom. The other would prevent the state from denying or interfering with the right to an abortion in cases of rape or sexual assault, incest, fatal fetal abnormality, or risk to the health or safety of the mother.
- Status: Both initiatives are cleared for signature gathering. The deadline to submit signatures is May 5, 2024.
- Montana: A citizen filed an initiative that would amend the state constitution to provide for the right to make and carry out decisions about one’s own pregnancy, including the right to abortion.
- Status: Pending official review. The initiative has not yet been approved for signature gathering.
- Nebraska: Two abortion-related citizen-initiated constitutional amendments were approved to gather signatures. One would establish a right to abortion until fetal viability, while the other would prohibit abortion procedures and drugs except to preserve the life of the mother.
- Status: Both initiatives are cleared for signature gathering. The deadline to submit signatures is July 5, 2024.
- Nevada: The Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom PAC is leading a campaign for a constitutional amendment that would establish the right to reproductive freedom in the state. The amendment would include the right to make and carry out decisions about matters relating to their pregnancies, including abortion.
- Status: The initiative is cleared for signature gathering. The deadline to submit signatures is June 26, 2024.
- Pennsylvania: In 2022, the Pennsylvania Legislature approved a constitutional amendment saying there is no right to a taxpayer-funded abortion or any other right relating to abortion.
- Status: Proposed. To make the 2024 ballot, both chambers of the Legislature need to pass the amendment again by a simple majority. Democrats have a 102-101 majority in the House, and Republicans have a 28-22 majority in the Senate.
- South Dakota: The group Dakotans for Health is leading the campaign for a constitutional amendment that would make abortion legal in South Dakota with regulations after the first and second trimesters.
- Status: Cleared for signature gathering. The deadline to submit signatures is May 7, 2024.
In 2022, voters in three states—California, Michigan, and Vermont—approved constitutional amendments granting a right to an abortion.
In Kansas and Kentucky, voters rejected amendments saying that nothing in their state constitutions creates a right to abortion or requires government funding of abortions. In Montana, voters rejected a measure called the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act.
From 1970 to November 2023, there were 54 abortion-related ballot measures. Forty-three (80%) of those had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-life. Voters approved 11 (26%) and rejected 32 (74%) of those measures. The other 11 measures had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-choice or pro-reproductive rights. Voters approved eight (73%) and rejected three (27%).
Oklahoma City will vote on a 1% sales tax to fund new Oklahoma City Thunder basketball arena
While we’re on the topic of ballot measures, let’s look at an interesting local one concerning the world of sports.
On Dec. 12 (tomorrow!), voters in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, will decide on a ballot measure that would levy a 1% sales tax to fund a new arena for the city’s NBA basketball team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The 1% sales tax would be levied for six years beginning on April 1, 2028. It would replace the existing MAPS 4 sales tax that’s in place to fund public improvements in the city. That tax is also levied at a rate of 1%, so the city’s current sales tax rate of 8.625% will remain unchanged if the measure is approved.
The measure would create the Arena Facility Sales Tax Fund to fund the new OKC Arena, expected to cost a minimum of $900 million. The Oklahoma City Thunder ownership agreed to pay $50 million towards the arena with an agreement that the Oklahoma City Thunder will play at the new arena for at least 25 years.
The Thunder was founded in 2008 after the team—then known as the Seattle SuperSonics—moved to Oklahoma City. The team had an agreement with the city to play at the Paycom Arena through 2023. The team and the city extended the lease through 2026 and were in talks about a long-term agreement for a new arena that would keep the team in the city beyond 2050. The Thunder would continue to play at the Paycom Arena until the new arena is ready in 2029.
The Paycom arena is the smallest arena in the NBA by square footage and had the second-smallest capital investment of all NBA arenas.
Mayor David Holt, who supports the measure, said, “Perhaps the most important aspect of the deal is the length — this is twice the commitment we received in 2008 and will keep the Thunder here beyond 2050. For a generation, we will retain the economic impact and quality-of-life benefits we have enjoyed as a big-league city.”
Oklahoma City Councilman Mark Stonecipher, who also supports the measure, said, “I think it is important to remember since the Thunder came to Oklahoma City, we have jumped from the 37th largest city to now the 20th largest city. Today we are the sixth fastest growing city in the United States and unemployment is at a record low. … Now is not the time to hit the brakes. … there are at least 18 major cities that would love to have an NBA team, including Las Vegas. … So, let’s get on board and support the new arena so we keep our OKC economy growing!”
Buy Your Own Arena, a group sponsored by Oklahoma Progress Now, is leading the campaign against the measure. Buy Your Own Arena said, “[It] is a single project with no real public benefit. The building is privately managed, hosts private events, and most of the revenue (advertising, naming rights, food and beverage profits), goes to private entities and owners. Nearly all the cost of construction is on the public. … Additionally, the Thunder owners have never said they will sell or move the team.”
J.C. Bradbury, an economist at Kennesaw State University, said, “The owners should be embarrassed that they only put out $50 million like that’s a meaningful contribution. The public’s going to pay for it, but the private part will keep all the money. That’s not a partnership. That’s exploitation.”
The city council voted 7-2 on Sep. 26, 2023, to place the measure on the ballot.
Polls will be open in Oklahoma City from 7 a.m. to 7 pm. on Dec. 12.
The Oklahoma City ballot measure is one of 13 local sales tax measures on the ballot in 2023. In 2022, Ballotpedia identified 22 such measures.
Here is a sampling of other ballot measures related to sports stadiums from 1997 to 2023:
- Washington Referendum 48, Public Stadium Authority and Seattle Seahawks Stadium Funding Measure (June 1997)
- San Diego, California, Hotel Tax and Qualcomm Stadium, Measure D (November 2016)
- San Diego, California, Football Stadium Initiative, Measure C (November 2016)
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Proposition 11, Downtown City Arena Bond Issue (September 2017)
- Mesa, Arizona, Question 5, Sports and Events Complex Expenditures Charter Amendment (November 2018)
- Laredo, Texas, Proposition A, Sports Complex Relocation and Financing (November 2018)
- Albuquerque, New Mexico, Gross Receipts Tax Revenue Bonds for Multi-Use Public Stadium (November 2021)
- Tempe, Arizona, Proposition 301, Development of Sports and Entertainment District Measure (May 2023)