On July 30, 2020, the Oregon Secretary of State’s office announced that People Not Politicians, the campaign behind the Independent State and Congressional Redistricting Commission Initiative, had submitted 59,493 valid signatures. People Not Politicians submitted its first batch of 64,172 unverified signatures on July 13. The campaign submitted an additional 1,819 signatures on July 17 and 1,063 signatures on July 24 for a total of 67,054 unverified signatures. The signature validity rate for the petition was 88.7%.
A federal judge ruled on July 10 that Secretary of State Bev Clarno (R) had to place the measure on the ballot or lower the threshold to 58,789 signatures and extend the signature deadline to August 17. The reduced number of signatures of 58,789 is equal to the required amount for 2018 veto referendum petitions. The original deadline was July 2, and the required number of signatures was 149,360 valid signatures.
People Not Politicians filed the lawsuit against the state seeking relief from the signature deadline and requirements on June 30. The state appealed the federal court’s decision allowing the campaign to submit signatures after the original deadline. On July 23, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Oregon’s request for an emergency stay on the lower court’s ruling.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) filed an emergency stay with the U.S. Supreme Court on July 29 that has not been decided yet. A panel of the 9th Circuit Court is expected to hear oral arguments for the lawsuit on August 13. It will also be hearing oral arguments for a similar initiative lawsuit in Idaho on the same day. Reclaim Idaho, the sponsors of the Idaho Income Tax Increases for Education Funding Initiative, filed the lawsuit back in June and a federal judge allowed the campaign to gather electronic signatures and have extra time to gather signatures. On July 30, the Supreme Court granted an emergency stay on the judge’s order.
The Oregon initiative would amend the Oregon Constitution to establish a 12-member redistricting commission. If the initiative qualifies for the ballot, it will be the third initiative appearing on the November ballot in Oregon. The Oregon Secretary of State certified the Psilocybin Program Initiative and the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative for the ballot after both met the original July 2 deadline and submitted more than the required number of valid signatures (112,020).
Oklahoma State Question 802 was on the June primary ballot in Oklahoma where it was approved by a vote of 50.49% to 49.51%. The measure expanded Medicaid eligibility to adults between 18 and 65 whose income is 138% of the federal poverty level or below. Campaign finance reports were not due from the campaigns until after the election on July 31, 2020.
Campaign finance reports for the Oklahoma State Question 802 campaigns show aggregate totals through the life of the campaigns. The report filed by Yes on 802-Oklahomans Decide Healthcare covered information as far back as March 6, 2019. The Vote No on 802 Association‘s report covered information from June 8, 2020. Both reports covered through June 30, 2020.
The Yes on 802 campaign raised $5.5 million in cash and $295,000 in in-kind contributions. Of all the funds, 95% came from eight donors, which contributed the following amounts:
Oklahoma Hospital Association: $2.5 million
St. Francis Hospital: $940,000
Tulsa Community Foundation: $923,000
Stacy Schusterman, chair of Samson Energy Company: $500,000
Ascension St John Foundation: $250,000
The Fairness Project: $247,616.61 (in-kind)
Chickasaw Nation: $100,000
Oklahoma Medical Association: $25,000
The support campaign reported $5.47 million in cash expenditures. Sponsors of the measure hired Fieldworks LLC to collect signatures for the petition to qualify this measure for the ballot. A total of $1,836,261.73 was spent to collect the 177,958 valid signatures required to put this measure before voters, resulting in a total cost per required signature (CPRS) of $10.32.
The Vote No on 802 Association, chaired by John Tidwell, state director of Americans for Prosperity, reported $210,600 in cash contributions, $100,084 in in-kind contributions, and $114,950 in cash expenditures. Four donors contributed 100% of the funds:
Americans for Prosperity: $200,000 cash and $99,850 in-kind
Jim Antosh, owner of Round House Workwear LLC: $10,000
Nobel Systems, Inc: $500
John Tidwell: $100 in cash and $234.19 in-kind
Comparison to citizen initiatives of 2018:
Two citizen initiatives were on the 2018 ballot in Oklahoma. The CPRS for State Question 788, which was designed to legalize medical marijuana was $0.41. Sponsors spent $26,988 to collect the required 65,987 signatures. State Question 793, concerning optometrists and opticians operating in retail stores, used volunteers to collect the 123,725 valid signatures, resulting in a CPRS of $0. The number of signatures required to qualify initiatives for the ballot in Oklahoma is tied to the total votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election. The number of required signatures increased for initiated constitutional amendments and state statutes in 2020 after the gubernatorial election in 2018.
In 2018, supporters of State Question 788 raised $280,117, and opponents raised $1.26 million. It was approved. Supporters of State Question 793 raised $4.6 million, and opponents raised $3 million.
As of August 3, 2020, 110 statewide ballot measures had been certified for the 2020 ballot in 33 states. Committees registered to support or oppose these statewide measures have reported a combined total of $335.7 million in contributions and $144.2 million in expenditures so far. Of the total contributions in support of or opposition to the 110 statewide measures certified, the 32 citizen-initiated measures featured about 73% of contributions. In 2018, the 68 citizen-initiated measures featured about 83% of the $1.19 billion in campaign contributions for the 167 statewide measures.
Sponsors of five additional initiatives submitted signatures to the Secretary of State’s office by the August 3 deadline. To join the four citizen-initiated measures and three legislative referrals already certified for the November 2020 ballot, 126,632 valid signatures are required.
Sponsors of Initiative #257 submitted more than 200,000 signatures on July 28 to qualify a measure that would allow voters in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek to vote to allow additional casino game types and increase the maximum single bet to any amount.
Michael Fields and Lindsey Sangers of Colorado Rising State Action submitted more than 196,000 signatures on July 31 to qualify Initiative #295 for the ballot. The measure would require voter approval of new state enterprises that are exempt from TABOR if the enterprise’s projected or actual revenue from fees and surcharges is greater than $100 million within its first five years. Michael Fields said, “Coloradans are sick of the Legislature using massive fees to get around a vote of the people, and the excitement around the ‘Vote on Fees’ initiative is proof of that.”
Also on Friday, Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, submitted around 197,000 signatures for Initiative #306. The initiative would decrease the state income tax rate from 4.64% to 4.55%. The Independence Institute said the measure was designed to “[Get] Colorado’s economy back to its former strength, by putting money back into the pockets of those who earned it.”
Colorado Families First, sponsors of Initiative #283 to create a paid medical and family leave program, reported delivering 205,443 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office on July 31.
Fair Tax Colorado, sponsors of Initiative #271, announced in an email Friday that the initiative would not qualify for the ballot. It would have repealed the flat tax and create a graduated income tax rate.
Sponsors of Initiative #200 also submitted signatures. An estimate of how many signatures were submitted was unavailable as of August 4. The initiative concerns expungement of criminal records for low-level, non-violent offenses and using expungement fees for programs that fund scholarships, education, housing, crime reduction, mental health, and others.
Three citizen initiatives, one veto referendum, and three legislative referrals are already certified to appear on the ballot in November. From 2000 through 2018, an average of about nine measures appeared on the statewide ballot during even-numbered years. A total of 108 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Colorado during the 20-year period from 1999 through 2019. Of the total, 42% (45 of 108) were approved, and 58% (63 of 108) were defeated.
At the election on November 3, New Jersey voters will decide a constitutional amendment to postpone state legislative redistricting until after the 2021 election if federal census data isn’t received by February 15, 2021. Therefore, the current state legislative districts, which have been used since 2011, would remain in use for the 2021 election. New districts would be used beginning in 2023. The constitutional amendment would also use this delayed timeline in future redistricting cycles if census data isn’t received by February 15 of the year after the census (2031, 2041, 2051, and so on).
Both chambers of the New Jersey State Legislature passed the constitutional amendment on July 30, 2020. A 60% vote was required in both legislative chambers. In the General Assembly, the vote was 51 to 26. In the State Senate, the vote was 25 to 15. Legislative Democrats, along with one Senate Republican, supported the amendment. All other legislative Republicans opposed it.
Asm. John McKeon (D-27), a legislative sponsor of the amendment, said that because the coronavirus pandemic has had the effect of delaying the completion of the federal census, “there’s just not a lot of good options here.” Currently, the U.S. Census Bureau has delayed the expected delivery of redistricting data to states to July 31, 2021. The state’s primary elections are scheduled for June 8, 2021. Senate Majority Whip Nicholas Scutari (D-22) stated, “[A delay in receiving census data] will make it all but impossible to get the accurate information needed to draw legislative districts that are fair and accurate. An undercount will not only result in reduced federal funding, but also will have a negative impact on fair representation in the Legislature.”
Doug Steinhardt, chairperson of the New Jersey Republican Party, said his party was opposed to the constitutional amendment. He stated, “The people of New Jersey deserve legislators that reflect the political and demographic makeup of our great state, and they haven’t enjoyed that in at least a decade. Democrats pushing this amendment to delay redistricting are trying to kill a fly with a sledgehammer, and are aiming to extend their majority for an additional two years.”
In New Jersey, a redistricting commission is responsible for developing state legislative district maps. The party affiliation of the commission’s 10 members is based on the results of the last gubernatorial election. The state political party committees of the gubernatorial candidates who placed first and second get to each select five members. Typically, these are Democrats and Republicans. If they deadlock on a state legislative redistricting map, the state Supreme Court Chief Justice appoints an 11th member.
The constitutional amendment is the third to be referred to the 2020 general election ballot in New Jersey. Voters will also decide a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana and a constitutional amendment to make veterans eligible to receive the state’s veterans’ property tax deduction.
The 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920. The 19th Amendment prohibited the government from denying or abridging the right to vote on account of sex, meaning that women were guaranteed the right to vote in the U.S. Constitution.
Before the 19th Amendment, the women’s suffrage movement also campaigned for changes to state constitutions to provide women with a right to vote. Suffragists Carrie Chapman Catt and Nettie Rogers Shuler, in their book Woman Suffrage and Politics (1923), wrote that state ballot measures “spun the main thread of suffrage activity” in the movement’s earlier years and were seen as stepping stones to national suffrage. “I don’t know the exact number of States we shall have to have,” said Susan B. Anthony, “but I do know that there will come a day when that number will automatically and resistlessly act on the Congress of the United States to compel the submission of a federal suffrage amendment.” When asked about federal support for women’s suffrage in 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt told the suffrage movement to “Go, get another State.”
Until 1869, the American Equal Rights Association (AERA) was the leading suffragist organization in the United States. AERA dissolved due to disagreements over strategies and the 15th Amendment, which addressed race, but not gender, and the right to vote. From AERA came the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), which aimed to win suffrage for women on a state-by-state basis, and the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), which aimed to achieve suffrage through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. AWSA and NWSA reconsolidated in 1890, with the new organization focused on both state referendums and a federal amendment for women’s suffrage.
Between 1867 and August 18, 1920, 54 ballot measures to grant women’s suffrage were on the ballot in 30 states. Fifteen (15) of the ballot measures were approved, giving women the right to vote in 15 states. Since women did not have suffrage until after the ballot measures were approved, male voters decided the outcome of suffrage ballot measures.
In 1867, Kansas became the first state to vote on a state constitutional amendment for women’s suffrage. The constitutional amendment was rejected by 69% to 31%.
From 1867 to 1889, male voters in Colorado, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington rejected ballot measures for women’s suffrage. Voters in Wyoming, however, approved their first state constitution in 1889, and one of the provisions provided for women’s suffrage. Wyoming became the first state to give women the right to vote.
In 1893, Colorado became the first state to pass a standalone constitutional amendment on women’s suffrage. The male electorate approved the amendment 55% to 45%.
Utah (1895) and Idaho (1896) followed Colorado, with voters in both states passing ballot measures that addressed women’s right to vote. Between 1896 and 1910, the movement lost at the ballot box on 10 occasions.
Victories accumulated west of the Great Plains. Washington (1910), California (1911), Arizona (1912), Oregon (1912), Montana (1914), and Nevada (1914) passed constitutional amendments. In Arizona, the male electorate voted 68% to 32%, which was the largest margin to approve a women’s suffrage amendment. In 1917, Montana elected the first woman to Congress—Jeannette Rankin, who was president of the Montana Women’s Suffrage Association and an organizer for the ballot measure campaigns in Washington and Montana.
With the exception of New Mexico, which never voted on a women’s suffrage ballot measure, the map of states that endorsed women’s suffrage and states that did not set up a west-east divide. While 11 states east of the Mississippi voted on women’s suffrage ballot measures, just two approved them. New York passed an amendment in 1917, and Michigan passed one in 1918.
Most of the states that provided women with the right to vote before the 19th Amendment did not do so on their first attempts. Nine of the 15 states voted on women’s suffrage more than once before passing an amendment. Voters in Oregon and South Dakota even voted on the issue six times.
According to the National Women’s History Museum, the beginning of the U.S. women’s suffrage movement is dated as 1848. At the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, which was the first women’s rights convention in the United States, organizers declared that men and women are created equal and, therefore, have the same civic rights and privileges, including “the inalienable right to the elective franchise.” The women’s suffrage movement era concluded 72 years later in 1920.
On July 30, 2020, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that a $3.00 billion bond measure related to environmental projects was removed from the general election ballot.
In April 2020, as part of the state budget bill, the New York State Legislature passed a provision for the bond measure. Gov. Cuomo proposed the bond issue, titled the “Environmental Bond Act of 2020 Restore Mother Nature,” during his State of the State Address on January 8, 2020. The budget bill also included a provision empowering the New York Director of the Budget to remove the bond measure from the ballot should the budget department decide that there would be an adverse effect on the state’s finances.
Revenue from the bond issue would have been distributed to flood risk reduction, coastal rehabilitation, shoreline restoration, and ecological restoration projects; projects designed to mitigate the impacts of climate change; land conservation and recreation plans; and wastewater infrastructure. The ballot measure would have required that the department make every effort practicable to ensure that 35% of the bond revenue was used to benefit environmental justice communities (EJCs). The ballot measure would have defined EJCs as “minority or low-income [communities] that may bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state, local, and tribal programs and policies.”
Bill Ulfelder, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in New York, responded to the news, saying, “While it is clear that the pandemic has had a serious impact on the economy of our state and the nation, this measure was an opportunity to create jobs and conserve the clean water, clean air, and natural resources our children and grandchildren depend on.”
With the removal of the bond measure from the ballot for November 3, 2020, there will be no statewide ballot measures in New York in 2020. “The financial situation is unstable. I don’t think it would be financially prudent to do it at this time,” said Gov. Cuomo. He said that he hoped voters would decide the bond measure in the future: “We’re going to postpone the environmental bond issue hopefully one year to next.” The New York State Legislature would need to pass the bond measure again. Gov. Cuomo also cited the proposed HEALS Act in the U.S. Senate, stating that some of the provisions regarding where people are taxed would “have a very negative effect on New York City.”
State Question 805 qualified for the ballot on July 29, after the state supreme court had found that the campaign submitted 248,521 valid signatures and after the 10-day challenge period ended on July 28 without any signature validity challenges filed. Yes on 805, sponsors of the amendment, turned in 260,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office on June 1.
The measure would amend the state constitution to prohibit a convicted person’s former felony convictions, except for violent felonies, from being used to “enhance the statutorily allowable base range of punishment.” In other words, the measure would not allow a convicted person’s sentence to be made longer or harsher due to past felony convictions.
The measure would not apply to those who have ever been convicted of a violent felony. Such offenses include assault, battery, murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, human trafficking, burglary, robbery, child abuse, rape, rioting, arson, terrorism, and more.
The initiative would provide for sentence modifications for persons convicted of a felony with a sentence that was enhanced due to former felony convictions and which resulted in a sentence that is greater than the maximum sentence currently allowed for such felonies.
The Yes on 805 campaign said, “Repeat sentence penalties, marketed as so-called ‘sentence enhancements’ during the tough-on-crime era, became popular when it was thought longer sentences would deter people from crime and lower recidivism, but data have shown that is just not true. The best research shows that long sentences do not make us safer and reducing these sentences will strengthen our economy and reunite families without weakening public safety. We already have evidence this reform will work in Oklahoma. SQ 780, which passed in 2016, lowered sentence lengths for several property offenses such as theft. Since then, property crime has fallen 3% while Oklahoma’s prison population declined by 10%.”
State Question 780, on the ballot in 2016, changed certain non-violent drug- and theft-related crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, which come with a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of $1,000. The measure reduced the number and duration of state prison sentences for those crimes. The measure was approved by a vote of 58% to 42%. The prison cost savings brought about by State Question 780 were earmarked according to the companion initiative, State Question 781. State Question 781, which was also approved, allocated the funds made available by the prison cost savings to counties in proportion to their population. The funding could be claimed by privately-run rehabilitative organizations that provide drug and mental health treatment, job training, and education programs.
The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, which describes its mission as “advancing principles and policies that support free enterprise, limited government, individual initiative, and personal responsibility,” conducted a fiscal analysis of State Question 805. The group concluded that the measure would “reduce Oklahoma’s prison population by 8.5% over the next 10 years. That would reduce state expenses between $45 million and $186 million, with expected savings of at least $142 million. Taxpayer savings of up to $27 million per year would continue indefinitely into the future.”
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R), said, “Trying to put this into our state’s constitution, it peels back enhancements for DUIs, human trafficking, domestic violence — some of the things I don’t think we need to put into our constitution.” Candida Manion, executive director of the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said, “When abusers aren’t held accountable, the violence escalates and that’s when they end up killing someone. In Oklahoma, we don’t hold offenders accountable already, but whatever was there, [SQ 805] will remove that, making it worse.”
One other measure is certified for the ballot in Oklahoma: State Question 814. The measure would decrease appropriations made to the state’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) Fund and direct the legislature to make appropriations to secure federal matching funds for the state’s Medicaid program. State Question 802, which expanded Medicaid in the state, was approved by voters in June.
Two other 2020 initiatives were cleared for circulation in Oklahoma. State Question 808 would create a constitutional right to consume cannabis and require those convicted of marijuana offenses to be exonerated and/or released from incarceration. It faces a signature deadline of August 3. State Question 812 would decriminalize certain marijuana-related offenses. It faces a signature deadline of September 4 to qualify for the 2020 ballot and October 5 to qualify for a later election ballot. To qualify, 177,958 valid signatures are required.
Local Choice Colorado, sponsors of Initiative #257, reported submitting over 200,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office on July 28. To qualify for the November ballot, 124,632 valid signatures are required by August 3. The secretary of state verifies signatures through a random sample of 5% of submitted signatures. If the sampling projects between 90% and 110% of required valid signatures, a full check of all signatures is required. If the sampling projects more than 110% of the required signatures, the initiative is certified. If less than 90%, the initiative fails.
The initiative would amend the state constitution to allow voters in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek to vote to allow additional game types and increase the maximum single bet to any amount. The measure would amend state statute to make conforming changes.
Local Choice Colorado, the sponsoring committee for Initiative #257, reported $1.7 million in contributions and $1.05 million in expenditures according to reports that covered information through June 24, 2020. Penn National Gaming, which owns or operates 41 gaming and racing properties in 19 states, gave $750,000. Monarch Casino & Resort, Inc., which operates Monarch Black Hawk Casino, gave $200,000.
Currently, authorized games include physical and electronic slot machines, craps, roulette, and poker and blackjack card games. Colorado voters approved legalized gambling in the cities of Black Hawk, Central, and Cripple Creek through Initiative 4 in 1990. Statewide voters approved the measure in a vote of 57.31% to 42.39%. Gaming in the cities became legal on October 1, 1991.
Currently, the maximum single bet is $100. The maximum single bet was raised to $100 in 2008 under Amendment 50. Prior to Amendment 50, the maximum single bet was $50. Amendment 50 also allowed Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek voters to add roulette and craps as authorized games. The first 80% of the new revenue attributed to the expansions and maximum bet increase was designed to go to the casinos. Of the remaining 20%, 78% was to be distributed for community college student financial aid and classroom instruction and 22% was designed to be distributed to the cities where limited gaming exists for gaming impacts.
This 2020 initiative would amend state statute to include programs to improve student retention and increase credential completion in the revenue distributions to community colleges.
As of July 28, 2020, seven statewide ballot measures were certified to appear on the November ballot in Colorado:
1. A veto referendum determining whether Colorado will join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is on the ballot. States in the NPVIC agree to give their electoral votes for the presidential candidate that wins the most votes nationwide if the compact goes into effect.
2. Voters will decide on three citizen initiatives. One initiative would specify in the constitution that only U.S. citizens may vote. Similar measures are on the ballot in Alabama and Florida. One initiative would reintroduce gray wolves on public lands. One initiative would prohibit abortions after 22 weeks gestational age.
3. The state legislature referred a state statute to increase tobacco taxes and create a new e-cigarette tax to fund various health and education programs. The legislature also referred two constitutional amendments to the ballot: one concerning charitable games such as bingo and raffles and another to repeal the Gallagher Amendment, giving the legislature more control of property tax rates.
Missouri voters will vote on Amendment 2, the Medicaid Expansion Initiative, on August 4. Amendment 2 would expand Medicaid eligibility in Missouri to adults that are between the ages of 19 and 65 whose incomes are at or below 138% of the federal poverty level. The amendment would also prohibit any additional restrictions or requirements for the expanded population to qualify for Medicaid coverage than for other populations that qualify for Medicaid coverage. It would also require the Missouri Department of Social Services and the Missouri HealthNet Division to submit state Medicaid plan amendments by March 1, 2021, to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to implement Medicaid expansion.
The following populations are currently eligible for Medicaid in Missouri:
• Over 65 years of age,
• Blind or disabled,
• Adults with dependent children with a household income at or below 22% of the federal poverty level,
• Infants under the age of one in a household with an income at or below 196% of the federal poverty level,
• Children between the ages of one and 18 in a household with an income at or below 150% of the federal poverty level, and
• Pregnant women with a household income at or below 196% of the federal poverty level.
Amendment 2 was sponsored by Yes on 2: Healthcare for Missouri. The campaign submitted 341,440 signatures to the Missouri Secretary of State on May 1, 2020, to qualify the measure for the ballot. In Missouri, the number of signatures required to qualify an initiated constitutional amendment for the ballot is equal to 8% of the votes cast for governor in the previous gubernatorial election in six of the eight state congressional districts. The initiative qualified in districts 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7. A total of 172,015 valid signatures were required, and a projected total of 258,686 signatures submitted by the campaign were valid in those districts.
There are two political action committees, Healthcare for Missouri and Missourians for Healthcare, registered to support Amendment 2. As of July 27, 2020, the committees had raised a total of $10.1 million, with Missourians for Healthcare receiving the bulk of the contributions. The top five donors to the campaign included the Missouri Hospital Association, the North Fund, the Health Care Issues Committee of the Missouri Hospital Association, the Health Forward Foundation, and the Washington University.
The support campaign argued that the coronavirus pandemic has shown the need for Medicaid expansion. Jack Cardetti, a spokesperson for the Yes on 2 campaign, said, “Now more than ever, Missourians need to be able to access care in their own communities and protect thousands of local frontline healthcare jobs. … Amendment 2 will help keep rural hospitals and urban clinics open by bringing $1 billion of our own tax dollars back from Washington, instead of going to the 37 other states that have expanded Medicaid.”
No on 2 in August is leading the campaign in opposition to Amendment 2. The committee organized in early June and has reported $112,000 in contributions. Opponents have argued that expanding Medicaid is not economically prudent. State Senator Bob Onder (R-2) said, “The money needed to expand Medicaid is going to come from somewhere. It either has to come from education, from roads or from massive tax increases. … I do think that Missourians, particularly in these challenging economic times, will realize that a massive expansion of the Medicaid program isn’t something that we can afford.” Missouri Governor Mike Parson (R) also came out in opposition to expanding Medicaid. He argued, “I don’t think it’s the time to be expanding anything in the state of Missouri right now. There’s absolutely not going to be any extra money whatsoever.”
In 2017, Maine was the first state to vote on a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid. It was approved. In 2018, ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid in Utah, Nebraska, and Idaho were approved. A 2018 initiative in Montana that would have renewed Medicaid expansion and increased tobacco taxes was defeated. On June 30, 2020, Oklahoma approved an initiative to expand Medicaid. It was approved 50.5% to 49.5%. Maine, Utah, and Oklahoma expanded Medicaid with opposition from Republican governors. Idaho expanded it with support from its Republican governor. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts (R) did not take a side on the question.
In Missouri, all polling places are open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Central Time. Missouri voters may vote by mail with notarization of the ballot envelope. If a voter is in an at-risk category for contracting COVID-19, the voter may vote via absentee ballot without notarization. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot was July 22. Absentee ballots may be requested in-person until August 3. All ballots must be received by 7:00 p.m. on election day.
On Friday, July 24, 2020, Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) announced that he would oppose ballot measures related to oil and gas in 2020 and 2022 on both sides to allow Senate Bill 181 of 2019 to take full effect. SB 181 was designed to make changes to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, create “additional public welfare protections,” and implement new rules related to oil and gas operations.
Multiple initiatives concerning oil and gas regulations were filed targeting the 2020 ballot.
Protect Colorado, proponents of initiatives #284, agreed to withdraw the measure following the compromise with Polis. The measure would have prohibited laws limiting use and installation of natural gas. Protect Colorado was also behind #304, which would have required fiscal impact statements to appear on the ballot for future initiatives. The group withdrew #304 as part of the compromise as well. On July 15, the group reported having collected around 140,000 signatures for each of the measures targeting the 2020 ballot; 124,632 valid signatures are required to qualify for the ballot.
Safe and Healthy Colorado proposed Initiative #174 for the 2020 ballot. It would have created setbacks for new oil, gas, and fracking projects. The campaign ceased signature gathering on July 2 after the Colorado Supreme Court blocked Polis’ executive order allowing remote signature gathering. Anne Lee Foster, who filed the initiative, said, “[Polis] is just speaking completely out of turn. We have absolutely not taken the option of a 2022 ballot initiative off the table.”
Initiative #312 was designed to prohibit the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from amending or repealing certain rules—including those regarding safety, aesthetics and noise control, reporting, and emissions. Proponents withdrew the measure.
Polis said, “In recent years, those conflicts [between the oil and gas industry and environmental groups] resulted in expensive, divisive fights at the ballot box and the courtroom, which did not satisfy homeowners, environmentalists, or the oil and gas industry. There are no real winners in these fights, and for most of this election season it looked like we might see another round of the oil and gas ballot wars in 2020. But today, I’m very proud to report that we have a path before us to make those divisive oil and gas ballot fights a thing of the past.”
Joe Salazar, executive director of Colorado Rising, the group that sponsored Proposition 112 of 2018, said, “I don’t know what [Polis] means by a truce. We are keeping everything on the table — we are not saying yes and we are not saying no.”
In 2018, Protect Colorado spent $26.4 million opposing Proposition 112, which would have mandated 2,500-foot setbacks for new oil, gas, and fracking projects from occupied buildings. Gov. Polis also opposed the measure. Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Noble Engery Inc., PDC Energy, Colorado Petroleum Council, and Extraction Oil & Gas were the top donors to the opposition campaigns. It was defeated by a vote of 55% to 45%.
Protect Colorado also spent $10.8 million supporting Amendment 74 on the 2018 ballot, which would have required that property owners be compensated for any reduction in property value caused by state laws or regulations. According to the executive vice president of the Colorado Farm Bureau, Chad Vorthmann, Amendment 74 was designed to “[protect] Colorado’s farmers and ranchers from extremist attempts to enforce random setback requirements for oil and natural gas development.”
The Sixteen Thirty Fund, the League of Conservation Voters, and Conservation Colorado were top donors to the Amendment 74 opposition campaign. Amendment 74 was also defeated by a vote of 55% to 45%.
The Colorado Constitution requires petition circulators to gather signatures in person. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on May 17, 2020, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed Executive Order D 2020 065, which authorized the Colorado Secretary of State to establish temporary rules allowing for ballot initiative petitions to be signed remotely through mail and email.
The Colorado Supreme Court rejected that provision of the order on July 1, holding that the governor cannot suspend constitutional requirements by executive order, and thereby requiring initiative proponents to gather signatures in person.
The executive order also suspended Colorado law that required signatures to be submitted within six months after ballot language is finalized, instead, allowing signatures to be submitted by the deadline set in the constitution, which is August 3, 2020.
To get an initiative on the November ballot, proponents need to collect 124,632 valid signatures. The remaining 13 initiatives that were cleared for signature gathering concern a variety of topics including elections, taxes, education, gambling, and paid family and medical leave.
As of July 24, 2020, seven statewide ballot measures were certified to appear on the November ballot in Colorado:
A veto referendum determining whether Colorado will join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is on the ballot. States in the NPVIC agree to give their electoral votes for the presidential candidate that wins the most votes nationwide if the compact goes into effect.
Voters will decide on three citizen initiatives. One initiative would specify in the constitution that only U.S. citizens may vote. Similar measures are on the ballot in Alabama and Florida. One initiative would reintroduce gray wolves on public lands. One initiative would prohibit abortions after 22 weeks gestational age.
The state legislature referred a state statute to increase tobacco taxes and create a new e-cigarette tax to fund various health and education programs. The legislature also referred two constitutional amendments to the ballot: one concerning charitable games such as bingo and raffles and another to repeal the Gallagher Amendment, giving the legislature more control of property tax rates.