CategoryBallot measures

Arizona voters to decide a 2022 amendment that would change legislature’s ability to repeal initiatives

In 2022, voters in Arizona will decide a ballot measure to allow the state legislature to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot initiatives in cases where the Arizona Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court declare that a portion of the ballot initiative is unconstitutional or illegal. In Arizona, the legislature must propose a ballot measure to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot initiatives. Initiatives often include severability clauses, meaning that if the courts declare a provision to be unconstitutional, other provisions can remain valid. 

Arizona is one of two states—the other being California—that prohibits the legislature from repealing or amending a ballot initiative unless voters approve the changes through a new ballot measure. Arizona has an exception for changes that further an initiative’s purpose. Arizona adopted this restriction on legislative alterations in 1996 with the approval of Proposition 105, also known as the Voter Protection Act. 

An example of an Arizona ballot initiative that has been partially, but not entirely, struck down is Proposition 200 (1998). It established the Arizona Citizens Clean Election Commission (CCEC) and a public campaign finance system. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision of Proposition 200 that triggered matching funds to candidates based on their opponent’s spending. The remainder of the law stayed in effect. 

The constitutional amendment was approved along party lines in the Senate and House. Republicans hold one-member majorities in each chamber. The amendment needed 16 votes in the state Senate, and it received the support of the 16 Senate Republicans. It needed 31 votes in the state House, and it received the support of the 31 House Republicans. No Democrats voted for the proposal. State Rep. Athena Salman (D) said the 2022 amendment is “a very sneaky way to undermine the Voter Protection Act without actually having to repeal the Voter Protection Act.” Rep. Mark Finchem (R) stated, “It’s true that we have certain things in law that were referred to the voters or that the voters established. I have a real struggle with believing that that pre-empts any future ask to the voters for clarity and precision.”

Arizona voters approved 60% (44 of 73) of the amendments that the legislature put on the ballot since 1985. The legislature referred an average of 4 amendments to the ballot between 1985 and 2020, although legislators put no amendments on the ballot in 2020. As of June 25, legislators had referred one constitutional and one statutory change to the 2022 ballot. They can refer additional measures during the remainder of this year’s legislative session and the 2022 legislative session. Arizonans also have the power to initiate legislation as either a state statute or a constitutional amendment or repeal legislation via veto referendum. Signatures for 2022 ballot initiatives are due July 8, 2022.

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Maine governor vetoes bill prohibiting ballot measure contributions from foreign government-owned entities

On June 23, 2021, Gov. Janet Mills (D) vetoed Legislative Document 194, which was designed to prohibit contributions, expenditures, and participation to influence ballot measures by entities with 10% or more ownership by foreign governments.

Mills’ veto letter said, “Even more troubling is this bill’s potential impact on Maine voters. Government is rarely justified in restricting the kind of information to which the citizenry should have access in the context of an election, and particularly a ballot initiative.”

The House approved LD 194 by a vote of 87-54 (61.7%-38.3%), with 10 absent. The Senate approved it by a vote of 23-11 (67.6%-32.4%), with one excused. A two-thirds (66.67%) vote of all present in both chambers of the Maine Legislature is required to overturn a veto. Maine has a Democratic state government trifecta. In the Senate, 14 Democrats and nine Republicans voted in favor of the bill, and seven Democrats and four Republicans voted against LD 194. In the House, 74 Democrats and eight Republicans voted in favor of it, and four Democrats and 50 Republicans voted against it.

Context and background on electric transmission lines initiative:

The bill was passed as an emergency bill in order to ensure it would apply to the current election cycle. There is one ballot measure currently certified for the 2021 ballot in Maine. The measure is an initiative that would (a) prohibit the construction of electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region, including the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), and (b) require a two-thirds vote of each state legislative chamber to approve certain electric transmission line projects. The NECEC is a 145-mile long, high-voltage transmission line project that would transmit around 1,200 megawatts from hydroelectric plants in Quebec to electric utilities in Massachusetts and Maine.

Clean Energy Matters is leading the campaign in opposition to the ballot initiative. The PAC Hydro-Québec Maine Partnership is also registered to oppose the ballot initiative. Together, the PACs have raised $31.56 million, including:

• $22.14 million from Central Maine Power (CMP), NECEC Transmission LLC, and the companies’ parent firm Avangrid; and 

• $8.28 million from H.Q. Energy Services (U.S.) Inc., which is a subsidiary of Hydro-Québec. 

Hydro-Québec is owned by the Province of Québec, which means LD 194 would have applied to it.

No CMP Corridor is leading the campaign in support of the ballot initiative. The PAC Mainers for Local Power is also registered to support the ballot initiative. Together, the PACs had raised $7.75 million, including: 

  • $4.98 million from NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, which owns a natural gas-fired plant in Cumberland, Maine, and six solar fields or projects in southern and central Maine;
  • $1.26 million from Vistra Energy Corp., which owns a natural gas-fired plant in Veazie, Maine; and 
  • $1.22 million from Calpine Corp., which owns a natural gas-fired plant in Westbrook, Maine.

Additional reading: Maine Legislative Approval of Certain Electric Transmission Lines Initiative (2021)

Context and background on changes to laws governing ballot measures in 2021:

Ballotpedia has tracked 198 legislative proposals concerning ballot initiatives, veto referendums, referrals, local ballot measures, and recall in 39 states in 2021 legislative sessions. At least 24 have been approved. Of the total, 125 bills were designed to change laws governing statewide initiatives, veto referendums, and legislative referrals.

Legislators in Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Utah have passed restrictions on the initiative processes in their states in 2021. Notable topics among bills introduced in 2021 sessions include:

• supermajority requirement increases,

• signature requirement and distribution requirement increases,

• single-subject rules,

• pay-per-signature bans,

• residency requirements and other circulator restrictions,

• fiscal impact statement and funding source requirements, and

• ballot measure campaign contribution restrictions.

Gov. Mills is not the first governor to veto a ballot initiative restriction in 2021. Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) vetoed a bill to require that initiative and referendum petitions must be circulated in Idaho and that petitions must be signed while the signer is physically located within the state. Gov. Little cited concerns over constitutionality.



Davidson County court blocks July referendum to amend Nashville’s charter

On June 22, Davidson County Chancellor Russell Perkins ruled that a petition for six charter amendments backed by 4 Good Government was invalid and blocked the amendments from appearing on the July 27 ballot. Perkins ruled that the petition included two proposed election dates, but local law requires that petitioners specify a single election date. Perkins also ruled that the amendment to revert a property tax increase would unconstitutionally transfer the power to enact property taxes from the local government to voters. Jim Roberts, leader of 4 Good Government, said that the Davidson County Elections Commission may appeal the court’s decision.

Had the petition been ruled valid, voters would have voted on six amendments to the city charter on July 27. One would have reverted the city’s property tax rates to what they were before a 34% increase in 2020 and would have required voter approval of any future increase of more than 3%. The other five amendments would have:

  1. reduced the number of signatures required to recall an elected official and prevented recalled officials from running for their previous office;
  2. ended lifetime benefits for elected officials;
  3. banned legislative alteration of voter-initiated charter amendments;
  4. required the city council to seek citizen approval before transferring high-value park or greenway real estate to private owners; and
  5. brought sports stadiums and facilities under the control of the city if their respective teams left Nashville or didn’t play at home for two years.

This is not the first time that 4 Good Government has tried to repeal last year’s tax increase. The group collected the required number of signatures for a similar petition in August 2020, but it was struck down in court on November 3, 2020.

4 Good Government started their petition targeting a 2021 election date in February and collected the required 12,142 signatures in April. The Davidson County Election Commission verified the petition in May.

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New Jersey voters will decide amendment to allow college sports betting on in-state games, New Jersey-based teams

On November 2, N.J. voters will decide at least two constitutional amendments, including an amendment to expand college sports betting. The ballot measure would allow wagering on postseason college sports competitions held in N.J. and competitions in which an N.J.-based college team participates. Currently, the state constitution permits sports betting except on games held in N.J. and on games featuring N.J.-based college teams. Therefore, the ballot measure would expand sports betting to include all postseason college sports competitions, as long as a nonprofit collegiate athletic association sanctions the game.

The state Assembly approved the constitutional amendment on June 24, 2021. The state Senate approved the constitutional amendment 21 days earlier on June 3. Democrats and most (36 of 43) Republicans supported referring the constitutional amendment to the ballot.

In 2011, voters passed a constitutional amendment to allow sports betting in New Jersey, except on college sporting events involving an N.J. team or taking place in N.J. Betting is permitted in-person, through telephone, or through the internet at racetracks throughout the state and casinos in Atlantic City. The constitutional amendment, however, was blocked after the NCAA, NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB sued then-Gov. Chris Christie (R) to stop the implementation of sports betting. The NCAA argued that the Sports Wagering Act violated the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which prohibited states from being involved in sports betting. On May 14, 2018, the case surrounding sports betting went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled 7-2 that the federal government could not require states to prohibit sports betting. In June 2018, sports betting was authorized in New Jersey. 

Since Christie v. NCAA, 30 states and D.C. have passed laws to legalize sports betting. In Arkansas, Colorado, Maryland, and South Dakota, sports betting was legalized through ballot measures. Voters in California will decide a ballot initiative on November 8, 2022, on whether sports betting show be legalized at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks.

Between 1995 and 2020, N.J. ballots featured 35 constitutional amendments, and 91% of them were approved by voters. An average of one constitutional amendment appeared on odd-year general election ballots in New Jersey during this period. As of June 24, 2021, the legislature had referred two constitutional amendments to the ballot. The legislature can also refer general obligation bond issues. Legislation for ballot measures must be passed by August 2, 2021, for measures to appear on the ballot for November 2. Legislature passed after that date would place measures on the ballot for 2022. 

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New Jersey voters will decide constitutional amendment this year on use of raffle and bingo proceeds

At the election on Nov. 2, 2021, New Jersey voters will decide a constitutional amendment related to raffle and bingo proceeds. The constitutional amendment, known as Senate Concurrent Resolution 91 in the state Legislature, received unanimous approval in both the Senate and Assembly. It is the first measure referred to the statewide ballot for New Jersey’s 2021 general election. 

As of 2021, the New Jersey Constitution limited bingo and raffles to several types of organizations, including

  1. veterans, charitable, educational, religious, and fraternal organizations;
  2. civic and service clubs;
  3. senior citizen associations; and
  4. volunteer fire companies and volunteer first-aid and rescue squads.

Of these organizations, veterans and senior citizen organizations were allowed to use proceeds from bingo or raffles to support their groups. The other organizations were prohibited from doing so. The ballot measure would allow all of the organizations that are otherwise permitted to hold bingo or raffles to use proceeds to support their groups. If approved by voters, the amendment would take effect on Jan. 1, 2022. 

Between 1995 and 2020, the New Jersey ballot featured 35 constitutional amendments, and 91% of them were approved by voters. An average of one constitutional amendment appeared on odd-year general election ballots in New Jersey during this period.

The legislature is currently considering a second constitutional amendment, which would expand sports betting at horse racetracks to college athletics. It also has the option to refer bond issues to the ballot. The legislature can refer measures to the 2021 ballot until Aug. 2. Measures passed after Aug. 2, which is three months before the general election, would be placed on the 2022 ballot.

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Colorado governor signs transportation bill removing 2021 bond issue from ballot

On June 17, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 260, thereby removing a bond issue that was set to appear on the state’s 2021 general election ballot.

The Colorado State Legislature passed Senate Bill 260 on June 2, 2021. It included a provision to remove the bond issue that was set to appear on the 2021 ballot. The bill was passed largely along party lines with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.

The bond measure was designed to issue $1.337 billion in bonds to fund statewide transportation projects with a maximum repayment cost of $1.865 billion over 20 years. The measure was originally passed in the state legislature as Senate Bill 1 in 2018. It was placed on the 2019 ballot after two 2018 citizen initiatives designed to authorize bonds for transportation projects—Proposition 109 (“Fix Our Damn Roads”) and Proposition 110 (“Let’s Go Colorado”)—were defeated.

In 2019, the measure was delayed to the 2020 ballot. Legislators had concerns that the bond issue appearing on the 2019 ballot alongside Proposition CC, which was designed to allow the state to retain revenue for transportation purposes, could cause both measures to fail. In 2020, the measure was delayed again to the 2021 ballot due to the economic concerns surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic.

The new transportation bill provides for $5.4 billion in transportation spending over 10 years. About $3.8 billion of the funds will come from new fees set to take effect in July 2022, including fees on gasoline and diesel purchases, retail deliveries, Uber and Lyft rides, electric vehicle registrations, and car rentals.

The bill was also designed to create four new state enterprises: the Nonattainment Area Air Pollution Mitigation Enterprise, the Clean Transit Enterprise, the Clean Fleet Enterprise, and the Community Access Enterprise.

Enterprises were established through the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) amendment of 1992. Enterprises are government-owned businesses that provide goods or services for a fee or surcharge that is paid for by the individuals or entities that are purchasing the goods or services. This is in contrast to government agencies or programs that provide goods or services that are paid for by tax revenue. Enterprise revenue does not count toward the TABOR limit. TABOR limits the amount of money the state of Colorado can take in and spend. Any money collected above the TABOR limit is refunded to taxpayers unless the voters allow the state to spend it.

Proposition 117 of 2020, which was approved by voters, was designed to require statewide voter approval of new state enterprises if the enterprises’ projected or actual revenue from fees and surcharges is greater than $100 million within their first five years. Under Proposition 117, revenue collected for enterprises that were created at the same time or that serve substantially the same purpose is aggregated when calculating the application of this restriction. The four enterprises are expected to collect below the $100 million five-year limit.



Ballotpedia publishes June’s edition of State Ballot Measure Monthly

This edition of the State Ballot Measure Monthly report covers certifications and a selection of notable ballot measure news from May 17 through June 17.

Here are the highlights:

• 10 statewide measures were certified for the 2021 ballot in Louisiana, Maine, New York, and Texas.

• One measure was removed from the 2021 ballot in Colorado.

• 12 statewide measures were certified for the 2022 ballot in six states.

• Texas’ 2021 constitutional amendments are finalized. Voters will decide eight measures, including two measures proposed in response to COVID-19 and related regulations.

• One amendment in Texas would prohibit the state or any political subdivision from limiting religious services or organizations. Another would provide residents of nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, or state-supported living centers with the right to designate an essential caregiver who may not be prohibited from visiting the resident.

• An initiative was certified for the 2022 ballot in California that would legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks.

• Oregon voters will decide a measure in 2022 to make affordable healthcare a constitutional right.

• Connecticut voters will decide in 2022 on a constitutional amendment to allow early voting.

• The Massachusetts Legislature referred a measure to enact an additional tax on income above $1 million to fund education and transportation. The amendment is identical to a 2018 citizen initiative that initially qualified for the ballot but was later removed by the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

• A federal court judge blocked the enforcement of paid circulator registration requirements that the South Dakota Legislature passed in 2020.



Maine voters to decide ballot initiative on electric transmission corridor through state’s Upper Kennebec Region

On November 2, 2021, voters in Maine will decide a ballot initiative to prohibit the construction of electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region, including the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), which began construction in the region on May 13. The ballot initiative would also require a two-thirds vote of each state legislative chamber to approve electric transmission line projects defined as high-impact.

The NECEC is a 145-mile long, high-voltage transmission line project that would transmit around 1,200 megawatts from hydroelectric plants in Quebec to electric utilities in Massachusetts and Maine. Segment 1 of the NECEC is a new corridor from the border with Quebec through the Upper Kennebec Region. The remainder of the NECEC would utilize an existing transmission corridor. 

No CMP Corridor is leading the campaign in support of the ballot initiative. The PAC Mainers for Local Power is also registered to support the ballot initiative. Together, the PACs had raised $7.75 million, including

  • $4.98 million from NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, which owns a natural gas-fired plant in Cumberland, Maine, and six solar fields or projects in southern and central Maine;
  • $1.26 million from Vistra Energy Corp., which owns a natural gas-fired plant in Veazie, Maine; and
  • $1.22 million from Calpine Corp., which owns a natural gas-fired plant in Westbrook, Maine.

Clean Energy Matters is leading the campaign in opposition to the ballot initiative. The PAC Hydro-Québec Maine Partnership is also registered to oppose the ballot initiative. Together, the PACs had raised $31.56 million, including

  1. $22.14 million from Central Maine Power (CMP), NECEC Transmission LLC, and the companies’ parent firm Avangrid; and
  2. $8.28 million from H.Q. Energy Services (U.S.) Inc., which is a subsidiary of Hydro-Québec. 

Hydro-Québec is a state-owned corporation wholly owned by the Province of Quebec. In 2020, 25 current and former state legislators sent a letter to Quebec Premier François Legault and Hydro-Québec CEO Sophie Brochu, which said, “Hydro-Quebec provides billions of dollars annually to its sole shareholder, the Province of Quebec, which means that the residents of Quebec have a direct financial stake in the outcome of the CMP corridor referendum. … If the shoe were on the other foot and Maine voters were directly connected with a campaign to overturn public opinion on a construction project in Quebec, we would hear protests from the people of Quebec.”

Serge Abergel, the director of external relations for Hydro-Québec, responded to the letter, stating that Hydro-Québec should be allowed to provide information to voters after spending years to obtain permits. Abergel said, “So once you want to take that away, at least give us the right to give the facts when it comes to us. We don’t view this as a loophole at all. We’re compliant to the rules, and we’re just trying here to give a straight story, so people can understand and make their own choices.”

Proponents of the ballot initiative submitted 95,622 raw signatures on January 21, 2021. Former Sen. Thomas Saviello (R-17) filed the ballot initiative. On February 22, 2021, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows (D) announced that 80,506 signatures were valid. The minimum requirement was 63,067 valid signatures. 

The ballot initiative is the only initiated statute on the ballot for the election on November 2, 2021. The Maine State Legislature could still refer general obligation bonds to the ballot. It is also considering at least three constitutional amendments and a referred statute to create a consumer-owned electric transmission and distribution utility. The legislature adjourned its special session on June 17 but will reconvene on June 30.

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Louisiana legislature adjourns 2021 session on June 11 referring two constitutional amendments to the 2021 ballot, seven to the 2022 ballot

The Louisiana State Legislature adjourned its 2021 session on June 10, 2021. It referred two constitutional amendments to the 2021 ballot and seven to the 2022 ballot.

The Louisiana Constitution limits legislation and constitutional amendments in odd-numbered years to matters concerning the state’s budget, government finance, and taxation.

2021 amendments:

The two 2021 constitutional amendments will be on the statewide ballot on October 9, 2021. In odd-numbered years from 1999 to 2019, 52 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot in Louisiana, of which, 36 (69.23%) were approved and 16 (30.77%) were defeated. There was an average of 4.7 amendments on odd-year ballots from 1999 through 2019.

Louisiana Changes to Taxing Authority of Levee Districts Amendment (2021):

The Louisiana Constitution authorizes levee districts, with district voter approval, to impose a tax of up to five mills ($5 per $1,000 of assessed value) for the purpose of constructing and maintaining levees. This amendment would remove the voter approval requirement for levee districts created between January 1, 2006, and October 9, 2021, and that vote in favor of this amendment in October. Levee districts created after October 9, 2021, would require voter approval to levy a tax.

The Board of Levee Commissioners of the Orleans Levee District may impose a tax of up to two and a half mills ($2.50 per $1,000 of assessed value). Voter approval is not required in this district. This constitutional amendment would not affect the Orleans Levee District.

Louisiana Increase Limit on Funding Reductions and Redirections During Budget Deficits Amendment (2021):

The amendment would increase from 5% to 10% the funds that can be redirected to a purpose other than what was originally provided for by law or as stated in the constitution during a projected budget deficit.

2022 amendments:

During the 2021 legislative session, the Louisiana Legislature referred seven constitutional amendments to November 8, 2022 ballot. In even-numbered years from 2000 to 2020, 96 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot in Louisiana, of which, 69 (71.88%) were approved and 27 (28.13%) were defeated. There was an average of 8.7 amendments on even-year ballots from 2000 through 2020. The legislature can refer additional amendments to the ballot in 2022.

Louisiana Adjustment of Ad Valorem Tax Rates Amendment (2022):

Currently, the state constitution provides for the adjustment of ad valorem tax rates up to the maximum authorized rate in effect the prior year. The maximum authorized rate is adjusted every four years in a statewide reassessment and may also be adjusted if the homestead exemption change.

The amendment would provide that ad valorem tax rates can be increased by a two-thirds vote of a taxing authority up to the maximum rate allowed by the constitution until the authorized rate expires.

Louisiana Reduction of the Maximum Individual Income Tax Rate Amendment (2022):

The amendment would decrease the maximum individual income tax rate from 6% to 4.75% for tax years beginning in 2022. The tax brackets for an individual would be 2% on the first $12,500 of net income, 4% on the next net income up to $37,500, and 4.75% on income above $50,000. The amendment would permit, (instead of require) a deduction for federal income taxes paid.

Louisiana Waiving Water Charges Amendment (2022):

The Louisiana Constitution currently prohibits the state or any local government from “loaning, pledging, or donating its funds, credit, property, or things of value,” though it provides certain exceptions. The amendment would add a new exception to this requirement in order to allow local governments to waive water charges for customers if water is lost due to water delivery infrastructure damages if such damages are not caused by the customer’s actions or the customer’s failure to act.

Louisiana Limit on Assessed Value Increase of Reappraised Property in Orleans Parish Amendment (2022):

The amendment would limit the increase in the assessed value of residential property in Orleans Parish to 10% of the property’s assessed value from the prior year. The effective date of the amendment is January 1, 2023.

Louisiana Increase Maximum Amount Invested in Equities for Certain State Funds Amendment (2022):

The amendment would increase the portion of money in certain state funds that could be invested in equities (stocks) from 35% to 65%. The increase would apply to the following funds:

1. Louisiana Education Quality Trust Fund;

2. Artificial Reef Development Fund;

3. Lifetime License Endowment Trust Fund;

4. Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge Trust and Protection Fund; and

5. Russell Sage or Marsh Island Refuge Fund.

The amendment would also remove a provision in the constitution that limits the legislature’s ability to increase the amount of money in the Millennium Trust that may be invested in stock and instead allows the legislature to provide for investments by general law.

Louisiana Creation of the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission Amendment (2022):

The amendment would create the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission. The commission would have eight members. The role of the commission would be to provide streamlined electronic filing and remittance of all sales and use taxes. It would also be responsible for promulgating rules related to all sales and use taxes levied by any taxing authority in the state. The administration of the commission would be funded by sales and use tax revenue. The amendment would require the state legislature to enact any laws related to the duties and funding of the commission. The commission would replace the Louisiana Sales and Use Tax Commission for Remote Sellers and the Louisiana Uniform Local Sales Tax Board after one year with all employees transferred to the new commission.

Louisiana Classified Civil Service Employee Public Support of Family Members’ Campaigns Amendment (2022):

The amendment would allow civil service employees to publicly support the election campaigns of individuals in their immediate family when off duty.

Click here for vote totals for each amendment broken down by political party.

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New Yorker voters will decide five constitutional amendments related to voting, redistricting, and the environment in November 

The New York State Legislature voted to send five constitutional amendments to voters for the general election on November 2, 2021, and one bond issue to voters for the general election on November 8, 2022. The state Legislature adjourned on June 10, 2021.

On January 20, 2021, the first constitutional amendment was referred to the ballot. The amendment is designed to make several changes to the redistricting process in New York. Legislative votes were largely along party lines, with Democrats supported the amendment and Republicans opposing it. The ballot measure would repeal the higher vote threshold for adopting redistricting plans when the legislature is controlled by a single party. In other words, a simple majority vote would be required for the legislature to adopt plans regardless of party control. Currently, both chambers of the New York State Legislature are controlled by Democrats.

The second constitutional amendment was referred on February 8. The ballot measure would add a right to clean water, clean air, and a healthful environment to the New York Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Senate Democrats supported the proposal, and Senate Republicans were divided 6 to 14. Assembly Democrats, along with the chamber’s one Independence Party member, supported the proposal, while Assembly Republicans split 17-25.

On May 11, 2021, the legislature referred two constitutional amendments related to voting policy. One amendment would authorize the state legislature to pass a statute for no-excuse absentee voting. No-excuse absentee voting would allow any registered voter to request and vote with an absentee ballot. As of 2021, the New York Constitution requires voters to be absent from their home county, ill, or physically disabled to vote with an absentee ballot. Democrats in both chambers supported the amendment, while Republicans were divided 7-13 in the Senate and 13-30 in the Assembly. 

The second May 11 amendment would repeal the requirement that persons must register to vote at least ten days before an election, thus authorizing the state legislature to pass a statute for same-day voter registration. Same-day voter registration enables voters to register and vote at the same time. In the Senate, Democrats supported and Republicans opposed the amendment. In the Assembly, Democrats and one Republican supported it, while the remaining 42 Republicans opposed the proposal.

On the final day of the legislative session, the legislature approved a fifth constitutional amendment in a unanimous vote in both chambers. The amendment would increase the New York City Civil Court’s jurisdiction over lawsuits involving claims for damages from $25,000 to $50,000.

The 2022 bond measure is a proposal that was originally set for the November 2020 ballot but was withdrawn due to financial concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Officially called the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act, the ballot measure would issue $3.00 billion in general obligation bonds for projects related to the environment, natural resources, water infrastructure, and climate change mitigation. It was included as a provision of the state’s budget. Most Democrats (38 of 43 in the Assembly and 88 of 107 in the Senate) voted to approve the budget. All Assembly and Senate Republicans voted against the bill.

In New York, constitutional amendments require a simple majority vote in each legislative chamber in two successive legislative sessions with an election for state legislators in between. All of the constitutional amendments approved in 2021 were previously approved in 2019.

Between 1995 and 2020, the legislature referred an average of 1.7 constitutional amendments to the odd-yer ballot. The highest number during this period was 6 in 2013. Voters approved 76% of the referred amendments. 

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