CategoryBallot measures

Signatures submitted for a referendum on Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Accounts expansion bill

Arizona voters may vote on a referendum on a bill to expand empowerment scholarship accounts in 2024. On September 23, the Save Our Schools PAC submitted 141,714 signatures to put a referendum on the ballot. 

In Arizona, an empowerment scholarship account, or ESA, allows parents or guardians of students with disabilities to sign a contract to opt out of the public school system, and instead receive an ESA from the Arizona Department of Education (DOE) that could be spent on private education, homeschooling, or other non-public education. Between 2011 and 2017, the program was expanded to cover students meeting other specified criteria.

In 2017, the Arizona State Legislature passed Senate Bill 1431 (SB1431) to expand the ESA program to make all K-12 students eligible. The Save Our Schools PAC led the campaign to place a veto referendum against SB1431 on the general election ballot for 2018. Voters rejected SB 1431, repealing the law.

During the 2022 legislative session, lawmakers passed House Bill 2853, which would expand the ESA program to include all students eligible to enroll in an Arizona public school for kindergarten, grades one through twelve, or a preschool program for children with disabilities.

If certified for the ballot in 2024, Arizona voters will decide on upholding or repealing HB 2853.

Matt Beienburg, director of education policy for the Goldwater Institute, said, “At the end of the day the purpose of the ESA program and school choice is to give parents the ability to pursue the best education for their kids, regardless of what form it comes in. We are focused on individual student aid, not an institution or a particular form of education.”

Beth Lewis, executive director of Save Our Schools and opponent of HB 2853, said that tax dollars should not be used to fund non-public schools. “If a school wants to take public funds, they need to take public accountability,” she said.

As signatures have been submitted for the veto referendum, the petition needs to go through a verification process to determine the number of valid signatures. Signatures are validated through a random sampling process. The petition will need 118,823 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.



Voters will decide on 14 statewide ballot measures related to elections, voting, campaign finance, and term limits in 2022

Voters in 10 states will decide on 14 ballot measures related to elections, voting, campaign finance, and term limits in 2022.

Elections and voting policy measures

Ten ballot measures address electoral systems and voting policies.

On Nov. 8, Nevadans will decide whether to join Maine and Alaska in using a form of ranked-choice voting for congressional and certain state offices. Nevada Question 3 would establish an open top-five primary system and ranked-choice voting for general elections. 

In Alabama, voters will decide on Amendment 4, which would prohibit changes to election conduct laws within six months of general elections. Some states, including Alabama, made modifications to election dates, procedures, and administration in 2020, largely in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Arizona voters are deciding on two measures related to election and voting. Proposition 131 would create the office of lieutenant governor. Arizona is one of five states without a lieutenant governor. Proposition 309 would add requirements for Arizona citizens casting a mail-in ballot, as well as change voter ID requirements for in-person voters.

Connecticut will vote on a constitutional amendment to allow no-excuse early voting. Connecticut is one of five states that has not enacted the policy in some form.

Kansas voters will decide on an amendment to require the election of county sheriffs in counties that had not abolished the office as of January 2022 and provide that sheriffs may be recalled from office or removed by a writ of quo warranto initiated by the attorney general.

The Louisiana State Legislature sent a constitutional amendment to the Dec. 10 ballot that would add that “No person who is not a citizen of the United States shall be allowed to register and vote in this state.” Ohio voters will be deciding on a similar amendment on Nov. 8 that would specifically prohibit local governments from allowing noncitizens or those who lack the qualifications of an elector to vote in local elections.

In Michigan, voters will decide on Proposal 2, which would amend the state constitution to provide voters with the right to vote without harassment, interference, or intimidation; guarantee that military and overseas ballots postmarked by election day are counted; allow for a signed affidavit, as an alternative to the existing photo ID requirement; provide for nine days of early voting; and make other changes.

Nebraska voters will decide on Initiative 432, which would require a photo ID to vote in the state. Twenty-one states require a photo voter ID to vote in person. An additional 14 states require a non-photo ID to vote in person. Nebraska is one of 15 states without an ID requirement.

Campaigns and campaign finance

Arizona voters will also be deciding on Proposition 211, which would require that persons or entities that make an independent expenditure of $50,000 or more on a statewide campaign or $25,000 or more on a local campaign must disclose the names of the money’s original sources. The term original sources would be defined as the persons or businesses that earned the money being spent.

In November, Louisiana voters will decide on a measure to allow classified service/civil service employees to publicly support the election campaigns of individuals in their immediate family when off duty.

Term limits

Voters in Michigan and North Dakota will decide on two measures related to term limits. Michigan Proposal 1 would ​​change the term limits for state legislators from three 2-year terms (6 years) in the state House and two 4-year terms (8 years) in the state Senate to 12 combined years in the legislature. It would also require that elected state legislative and state executive officials must file annual financial disclosure reports.

The North Dakota measure would limit the governor to serving two four-year terms and limit state legislators to serving eight years in the state House and eight years in the state Senate. Currently, North Dakota does not have any term limits on the governor or state legislators.



Votes for Arkansas marijuana legalization initiative will be counted

Votes for Arkansas Issue 4, a marijuana legalization initiative on the November ballot, will be counted after the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners’ decision to not certify the initiative’s ballot title.

Responsible Growth Arkansas, the campaign behind the marijuana legalization initiative, submitted more than 190,000 signatures on July 8. The Arkansas secretary of state announced on July 29 that the campaign had submitted more than the required number of valid signatures (89,151) and qualified for the ballot.

On Aug. 3, 2022, the election commissioners declined to certify the ballot title and popular name for the initiative, stating that the language was misleading. The next day, Responsible Growth Arkansas filed a lawsuit in the state Supreme Court. The campaign said the board “[thwarted] the will of the people and their right to adopt laws by initiative.” The campaign requested an expedited review because the deadline for the secretary of state to certify measures for the 2022 ballot was August 25. On August 11, the state Supreme Court ordered the secretary of state to certify the measure for the ballot.

Under Issue 4, adults 21 years old and older would be authorized to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. Adults could possess up to one ounce of marijuana. By March 7, 2023, businesses that already hold licenses under the state’s medical marijuana program would be authorized to sell adult-use marijuana at their existing dispensaries and one additional location for adult-use marijuana sales only. By July 5, 2023, an additional 40 licenses would be given to businesses chosen by a lottery and would need to be located at least five miles away from a dispensary with an active license. The Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Division of the Department of Finance and Administration would regulate the program and provide for licensing.

Responsible Growth Arkansas has raised $4.01 million according to campaign finance reports covering information through August 31. The campaign said Issue 4 would “[support] law enforcement salaries and bolster local police budgets so that our officers can go after serious crime,” “[improve] the Arkansas’ existing medical marijuana program by removing burdensome taxes that are currently being paid by qualified patients receiving medical treatment,” and “safely legalize the sale of cannabis to adults 21 and older and create revenue that goes to more funding for local police departments.”

Safe and Secure Communities registered to oppose the initiative and has raised $2 million. Safe and Secure Communities said, “We’re on a mission to save Arkansas from the destructive effects of legalized drugs, and we need your support. Many cities around the nation are destroyed, and now Arkansas is at risk. Help keep Arkansas communities secure and our citizens safe. The pot industry is directly targeting kids, even though hundreds of scientific studies show that marijuana – especially today’s high-potency weed – permanently damages the teenage brain. Teens who smoke pot regularly drop out at twice the rate of non-users, and as adults they earn less and have a lower IQ. Marijuana-related policy changes, including legalization, have significant unintended consequences for children, adolescents, and cities large and small.”

Marijuana legalization measures are certified to appear on the 2022 ballot in Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Currently, 19 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the possession and personal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Eleven states and D.C. had legalized marijuana through the ballot initiative process. A marijuana legalization initiative targeting the 2022 ballot in Oklahoma was ordered to appear on the 2024 ballot after legal challenges were not resolved before state deadlines to print ballots.



129 statewide measures will be on Nov. 8 ballot

Voters in 36 states will decide on 129 ballot measures at the general election on November 8. As five ballot measures were decided at elections earlier this year, and three more will be decided in December, the annual total of statewide ballot measures for 2022 is 137.

Across the U.S., ballot measures will address issues like abortion, marijuana, and election law in November. Topics like sports betting, psychedelic fungi and plants, flavored tobacco, alcohol, firearms, and income taxes are featured on ballots in some states.

Number of citizen-initiated measures below average

This year’s annual total—137—is more than the number of statewide ballot measures in 2020, which was 129. However, the annual total is below the previous decade’s (2010-2020) average of 164. 

The number of citizen-initiated ballot measures and legislative referrals has decreased since 2010. The number of citizen-initiated measures in 2022 is 30, which is the lowest number during the prior decade. In 2020, there were 43 citizen-initiated measures. 

There could be several reasons for the lower number of initiatives in 2022. For 2022, 851 initiatives were proposed, and 3.5% made the ballot. In 2016, for instance, 1,069 initiatives were proposed, and 7.1% made the ballot. Overall, there is a correlation between the number of initiatives proposed and the number certified for the ballot, and there is also a decade-long trend toward fewer proposed initiatives making the ballot. There are also fewer initiatives, on average, during mid-term years compared to presidential years. From 2010 to 2022, presidential years featured an average of 60 citizen-initiated measures, whereas mid-term years featured an average of 47 citizen-initiated measures. Campaigns have also cited the effects of COVID-19 and labor shortages on signature drive costs in 2022.

An additional factor for ballot initiative campaigns is recent signature increases. Of the 26 states that allow for some form of initiative or referendum, 22 states base their signature requirements on turnout at specific elections, which either occurred in 2018 or 2020. According to the U.S. Elections Project, the midterm turnout in 2018 was 50%, the highest since 1912, and 13.3 percentage points above 2014. The presidential election turnout in 2020 was 66.8%, the highest since 1900, and 6.7 percentage points above 2016. In California, which saw the largest signature increase, the requirement increased by 70.3%. 

Trends include abortion, marijuana, and election policies

Abortion has been a topic for statewide ballot measures since the 1970s. Since 2000, there have been just two general election cycles, 2002 and 2016, without abortion-related state ballot measures. In November, there are five ballot measures addressing abortion—the most on record for a single year. Earlier, in August, one measure was defeated in Kansas. Before 2022, the highest number of abortion-related measures on statewide ballots was four in 1986. In California, Michigan, and Vermont, voters will decide on constitutional rights to abortion. In Kentucky, like Kansas, voters will decide on a constitutional amendment to declare that the state constitution cannot be interpreted as creating a right to abortion. Voters in Montana will decide on a measure requiring medical care to be provided to infants born alive after an attempted abortion or other procedure.

Heading into November, marijuana is legal in 19 states and D.C. Of those 19 states, 13 and D.C. had legalized marijuana through the ballot measure process. In 2022, five more states will decide on marijuana legalization ballot measures. In the central U.S., voters in Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota will consider citizen-initiated measures to legalize marijuana. In Maryland, the state legislature voted to put the issue before voters.

Voters in 10 states will decide on ballot measures to change election policies or laws in November. South Dakota decided on a measure in June, and Louisiana will decide on one in December. Voters will decide on a top-five ranked-choice voting system in Nevada, where approval of an initiated constitutional amendment is required twice in 2022 and 2024. Voters in three states will decide on legislative proposals to change the processes for citizen-initiated ballot measures this year. Other issues on the ballot include early voting, voter identification, citizenship requirements, and campaign finance reporting.

You can learn more about this year’s statewide ballot measures at Ballotpedia.org.



Five measures that would change the initiative process are on the ballot in 2022

In November, there are a total of five measures on the ballot related to the initiative process. A ballot initiative is a way that citizens can propose, amend, or repeal a state law or constitutional provision by collecting signatures from registered voters. Successful signature drives result in an initiative being placed on the ballot for voters to approve or reject. Twenty-six states have an initiative process at the state level, and each state has different rules and requirements regarding the ballot initiative process, including majority and supermajority requirements, single-subject rules, and requirements for measures that increase taxes.

Five measures regarding the initiative process are on the ballot for the November 8, 2022 general election. One measure was on the ballot in June. This November, the states with ballot measures regarding the initiative process are Arizona (3 measures), Arkansas (1 measure), and Colorado (1 measure). 

Last June, voters rejected a measure in South Dakota called Amendment C by 67-32%. Amendment C would have changed the vote requirement from a simple majority to a 60% majority for ballot measures that increase taxes or require the state to appropriate $10 million or more in the first five fiscal years.

In November, voters will decide on five measures regarding the initiative process in Arizona, Arkansas, and Colorado:

  • Arkansas Issue 2: Amends the Arkansas Constitution to require a 60% vote of approval from voters to adopt constitutional amendments (legislatively referred and citizen-initiated) and citizen-initiated state statutes.
  • Arizona Proposition 128: Amends the Arizona Constitution to allow the Arizona State Legislature to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot initiatives if any portion has been declared unconstitutional or illegal by the Arizona Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Arizona Proposition 129: Amends the Arizona Constitution to require that citizen-initiated ballot measures embrace a single subject.
  • Arizona Proposition 132: Amends the Arizona Constitution to require a 60% vote for voters to pass ballot measures to approve taxes.
  • Colorado Proposition GG: Requires the ballot titles and fiscal impact summaries for initiatives that affect income taxes to include information on how the change would affect income taxes for different categories of income.

Between 2010 and June 2022, there were 20 measures regarding the initiative process on the ballot. Voters approved 11 (55%) of them, while nine (45%) were rejected.

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Challenge period for Oklahoma marijuana initiative ends with four challenges filed; state supreme court to decide on whether the initiative will appear on the 2022 ballot

A 10-day challenge period for Oklahoma marijuana initiative State Question 820 ended on September 15 with four challenges filed with the state Supreme Court. In addition to resolving the challenges, the Supreme Court is also set to decide on whether the measure will be placed on the November 2022 ballot.

Once signatures for an initiative are submitted, the secretary of state’s office counts the signatures and submits a report to the court. On August 22, the secretary of state announced that proponents submitted 117,257 valid signatures and forwarded the signature count report to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. After the supreme court determines the sufficiency of signatures, the court orders the secretary of state to publish a notice of the signature submission, the ballot title, and notice that any citizen may file a petition challenging the sufficiency of the signatures or ballot title within 10 days.

The challenge period for State Question 820 began on September 1 and ended on September 15, 2022. Two challenges were filed related to the validity of signatures submitted for the initiative and two challenges were filed related to the initiative’s ballot language.

Former Oklahoma State Rep. Mike Reynolds (R) and former gubernatorial candidate Paul Tay (I) filed lawsuits with the Oklahoma Supreme Court challenging the validity of signatures submitted by proponents. Reynolds argued that the validity of signatures cannot be reviewed without taking legal action to review them and requested a signature review period. Tay argued that signatures collected on American Indian lands should be invalidated. Attorneys for initiative sponsors said, “As this Court is aware, ballot deadlines are looming, and time is of the essence here. Proponents thus respectfully request that the Court resolve the instant challenge quickly, to ensure that SQ820 may be submitted to a vote of the People at the upcoming November 2022 general election.”

A challenge to the initiative’s ballot language was filed by John Stotts, a former member of the Pottawatomie County Farm Bureau board of directors; Karma Robinson, president of public affairs and political communications firm GR Pro; and Mary Chris Barth, a current member of the Beaver County Farm Bureau’s board of directors. The challenge alleged that the ballot language is misleading because it fails to mention that “several laws protecting children from marijuana would be removed,” “possession of a firearm while under the influence of marijuana would be legalized,” and “more serious marijuana crimes would be legalized or decriminalized.”

A second challenge to the ballot language was filed by Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action director Jed Green, sponsor of other proposed marijuana initiatives for which no signatures were submitted by the August deadline. Green alleged that State Question 820’s ballot language is misleading because it fails to mention that the initiative could be amended by the state legislature if approved by voters, public consumption fines would be limited to $25, and that medical marijuana dispensaries would need a second license to sell adult-use marijuana.

After an initiative petition is found to have sufficient signatures and all challenges have been resolved, the secretary of state notifies the governor, who issues an election proclamation. The governor’s election proclamation must be issued and certified to the State Election Board at least 70 days prior to an election in order for a state question to appear on a ballot. Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said August 29 (70 days prior to the general election) was the deadline to formally certify measures for the ballot.

State Question 820 sponsors asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to expedite the ballot title verification process and include the measure on the November 2022 ballot, saying that “The new process took about 48 days from the time we turned in our signatures until the time they were verified. In the past, that was usually about two weeks or a little longer. It’s been a new process for them, which has caused a lot of missteps along the way. They have dropped the ball, which is why we have asked the Supreme Court to intervene.” The state argued for the measure to be placed on the ballot for a later election — either a special election if one is called or the 2024 ballot.

In a press release published on September 16, the State Question 820 campaign said proponents “remain optimistic that the Oklahoma Supreme Court will act swiftly to dismiss the seemingly politically motivated challenges, and let the people vote.”

Marijuana legalization measures are certified to appear on the 2022 ballot in Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Votes on the Arkansas initiative may not be counted pending a state Supreme Court ruling.



Abortion rights initiative certified for the Michigan ballot

On Sept. 8, 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision that an initiative to create a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom, defined to include abortion, contraceptives, and other pregnancy-related matters,must be added to the November ballot. The initiative was officially certified by the Board of State Canvassers on Sept. 9 and will appear on the ballot as Proposal 3.

If approved by voters, Proposal 3 would create a constitutional right to reproductive freedom in November. The term reproductive freedom would be defined to include “prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management, and infertility care.” Proposal 3 would also provide that the state can regulate abortion after fetal viability, except that the state could not ban abortions to “protect the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant individual,” as determined by an attending health care professional.

On July 11, the campaign Reproductive Freedom for All submitted 753,759 signatures to qualify Proposal 3 for the ballot. The measure needed 425,059 valid signatures to qualify. A month later, on Aug. 26, the State of Michigan Bureau of Elections announced that 596,379 signatures were projected as valid.

The campaign opposing the initiative, Citizens to Support MI Women and Children, filed a challenge in August against the petition. In the challenge, the campaign argued that the lack of appropriate spacing between certain words within the initiative would “seek to insert non-existent words into the Michigan Constitution.” The Supreme Court rejected the challenge, saying that “regardless of the existence or extent of the spacing, all of the words remain and they remain in the same order, and it is not disputed that they are printed in 8-point type.”

Proposal 3 will join two other measures certified for the Michigan ballot in November. The measures certified for the Michigan ballot are:

  • Proposal 1, which would change the term limits requirement for state legislators and financial disclosure requirements for state executive and legislative officials
  • Proposal 2, which would make changes to voting policies, including dropboxes, photo ID or signed legal documents, early voting, and absentee voting
  • Proposal 3, which would create a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom, defined to include abortion, contraceptives, and other pregnancy-related matters.

In 2022, there are six total ballot measures addressing abortion—the most on record. Following Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, measures have been certified in California, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, and Vermont. In Aug., voters in Kansas rejected a constitutional amendment that would have stated that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion. The five other measures will be on the ballot this November, including in Michigan.

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Voting policy amendment certified for the Nov. ballot in Michigan

On Sep. 9, 2022, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers certified a citizen-initiated measure to amend voting policies for the election on Nov. 8. The initiative will appear on the ballot as Proposal 2.

The certification came after the Michigan Supreme Court rejected a challenge to Proposal 2. Attorneys for the Defend Your Vote group, which opposes the initiative, filed a challenge against the initiative campaign in August. The challenge said that the initiative “fails to strictly adhere, as required, to the form required by the Michigan Constitution and state statute” and that it does not identify all the provisions of the Michigan Constitution it would abrogate. 

On Sept. 8, the Supreme Court sided with the initiative campaign and ordered the Board of State Canvassers to certify the measure for the election on Nov. 8, 2022.

The Promote the Vote 2022 campaign submitted 669,972 signatures on July 11, 2022, in order to qualify the measure for the ballot. The campaign needed 425,059 valid signatures in order to qualify the measure. On Aug. 25, the State of Michigan Bureau of Elections reported that the measure submitted an estimate of 507,780 valid signatures.

If approved by voters this November, the measure would:

  • amend the Michigan Constitution to provide voters with a right to vote without harassment, interference, or intimidation;
  • require military or overseas ballots to be counted if postmarked by election day;
  • allow for a signed affidavit, as an alternative to the existing photo ID requirement, to vote;
  • provide voters with a right to use a single application to vote absentee in all elections;
  • require state-funded postage for absentee applications and ballots;
  • require one state-funded absentee ballot drop box for every municipality or one drop box per 15,000 registered voters in larger municipalities;
  • provide that only election officials may conduct post-election audits;
  • require nine days of early in-person voting;
  • allow publicly-disclosed charitable donations and in-kind contributions to fund elections; and
  • require canvas boards to certify election results based only on the official records of votes cast.

Proposal 2 will join two other measures certified for the Michigan ballot in November. The measures certified for the Michigan ballot are:

  • Proposal 1, which would change the term limits requirement for state legislators and financial disclosure requirements for state executive and legislative officials
  • Proposal 2, which would make changes to voting policies, including dropboxes, photo ID or signed legal documents, early voting, and absentee voting
  • Proposal 3, which would create a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom, defined to include abortion, contraceptives, and other matters related to pregnancy.

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Referendum to repeal a Massachusetts law related to driver’s license applications qualifies for the November ballot

On Sept. 9, the Massachusetts Elections Division announced that a veto referendum to repeal House Bill 4805 (H 4805) had qualified for the November ballot as Question 4.

H 4805 would prohibit registrars from inquiring about an applicant’s citizenship or immigration status when applying for driver’s licenses and motor vehicle registrations. It would also authorize registrars to accept certain documents to verify the identity and date of birth of an applicant. 

H 4805 would require one of the documents to be either a valid unexpired foreign passport or a valid unexpired Consular Identification document. The bill would require the second document to be a valid unexpired driver’s license from any U.S. state or territory, an original or certified copy of a birth certificate, a valid unexpired foreign national identification card, a valid unexpired foreign driver’s license, or a marriage certificate or divorce decree issued by any state or territory of the United States.

If not repealed, the law would take effect on July 1, 2023.

The targeted law was vetoed by Gov. Charlie Barker (R), who supports the repeal effort. Massachusetts requires a two-thirds majority in the state legislature to override a veto. At the time of the override vote, Democrats held such a majority.

In the Senate, the override passed by a 32-8 margin, with 32 Democrats voting to override and five Democrats joining all three Republicans to sustain Baker’s veto. The House voted 119-36 to override the veto, with eight Democrats joining all 28 Republicans to sustain the veto.

In Massachusetts, the number of signatures required to qualify a veto referendum for the ballot is equal to 1.5% of the total votes cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election. The petition was filed on June 15 by Fair and Secure Massachusetts, the PAC registered in support of a ‘no’ vote on Question 4. On Sept. 7, 2022, nearly 80,000 of the 100,000 signatures filed with local clerks were verified and submitted to the secretary of state. The Elections Division announced that the campaign had submitted 71,883 valid signatures.

Fair and Secure Massachusetts reported receiving nearly $50,000 in contributions as of Sept. 9. The committee has received endorsements from State Rep. Colleen Garry (D), State Rep. Marc Lombardo (R), and Republican candidate for governor, Geoff Diehl.

Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D), who supports upholding H 4805, said, “We know in other states that have passed this bill, passed a form of driver’s licenses for immigrants, that hit-and-run accidents go down by 10 percent.”

Massachusetts voters will also be deciding on three other ballot measures. Question 1 would increase the state income tax from 5% to 9% for income above $1 million and dedicate the additional tax revenue to education and transportation purposes. Question 2 would enact a medical loss ratio of 83% for dental insurance plans beginning on January 1, 2024. Question 3 would incrementally increase the combined number of retail beer and wine licenses and all alcoholic beverage licenses an establishment could own from no more than 12 in 2023 to no more than 18 by 2031.

In Massachusetts, a total of 72 ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1985 and 2020. Thirty-eight ballot measures were approved, and 34 ballot measures were defeated.

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Reclaim Idaho withdraws Proposition 1 from the ballot; Idaho legislature sends an advisory question on income and corporate taxes and education funding to voters

On Sept. 7, Reclaim Idaho withdrew Proposition 1 from the November ballot after the state Legislature passed House Bill 1 (HB 1) during its special legislative session on Sept. 1.

Proposition 1 qualified for the 2022 ballot on July 22. It would have increased the tax on income above $250,000 for individuals, trusts, and estates and above $500,000 for couples filing jointly to $16,097 plus 10.925%. It would have established the Quality Education Fund to collect the additional tax revenues to allocate toward public education.

HB 1 changes the income and corporate tax rates to one flat tax rate of 5.8%; provides a tax rebate equalling the greater of 10% of the taxes paid by a couple or individual in 2020 or $600 per joint filer or $300 for an individual; exempts the first $2,500 from taxation for single filers or $5,000 for joint filers; and allocates $410 million of the state’s sales tax revenue to the public school income fund and in-demand careers fund. The tax changes will take effect on January 3, 2023.

HB 1 also included a provision to send a nonbinding advisory question to the November ballot asking voters if they approve or disapprove of the tax changes and additional education funding.

Idaho law does not provide for or prohibit the Idaho State Legislature from placing an advisory question on the ballot. Since 1995, the state legislature has sent two advisory questions to voters in 1998 and 2006. In these two instances, the advisory questions were a provision of an enacted law that received at least a simple majority vote in both the Idaho State Senate and the Idaho House of Representatives.

The 2006 advisory question was related to property taxes and was approved by 72.4% of voters. The 1998 advisory question was related to ballot access requirements for state and local officials and was approved by 53.16%.

HB 1 passed the state House on Sept. 1, 2022, by a vote of 55-15. It passed in the senate on the same day by a vote of 34-1. It was signed by Gov. Brad Little (R) on Sept.1.

Gov. Little released a statement saying, “I am proud of my legislative partners for confronting the substantial impacts of inflation head-on by putting our record budget surplus back in the pockets of Idahoans while responsibly funding education at historic levels to ensure we are meeting our constitutional and moral obligation to Idaho students and families both in the short-term and the long-term.”

After the passage of HB 1, Luke Mayville, the founder of Reclaim Idaho, which sponsored Proposition 1, said, “There are two ways a ballot initiative can win. One way is by securing a majority of the vote at the ballot box. Another way is by forcing the Legislature to do something they would never have otherwise done. By placing [Proposition 1] on the ballot, the citizens of Idaho have forced the Legislature to make the largest investment in Idaho public schools in a generation.”

Currently, Idaho has a graduated income tax structure with the top income bracket taxed at 6%. The corporate income tax rate is also 6%.

With the passage of HB 1, Idaho will join 13 other states that either have a flat income tax or are in the process of implementing one. Forty-four states levy a state corporate income tax ranging from 2.5% in North Carolina to 18.28% in New York.

According to the Education Data Initiative, as of June 2022, Idaho spent on average $6,212 per pupil ($1.93 billion total), and local governments funded on average $2,266 per pupil ($703.7 million total). The state received $891 per pupil ($276.7 million) from the federal government.

Four other ballot measures related to education funding are certified for the 2022 ballot in four other states—California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Mexico. Two measures were citizen-initiated and two were referred to the ballot by the legislature.

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