In San Francisco, voters approved four measures on Tuesday. The fifth, Proposition D, is too close to call with certainty, but was ahead 68% to 32% and needs 66.67% to pass.
Proposition E, the City Office Development Limit Initiative, was the only citizen-initiated measure on the ballot. Proposition E was approved by 55% of voters. It required a simple majority to pass. The measure was put on the ballot through a signature petition drive sponsored by Housing Forward San Francisco. The measure limits city office development if the city does not meet annual housing production goals. The allowed office development will be reduced by the percentage of housing units by which the city falls short of goals. The measure also sets the minimum housing production goal in the city at 2,042 units.
Office development was first limited to 950,00 square feet annually in 1986 with the approval of Proposition M. This annual limit established by Proposition M would be further cut by Proposition E if San Francisco does not produce enough housing affordable to specific income levels to meet the goal established by Proposition E.
Voters also approved Propositions A, B, and C. Proposition A was approved by 70.75% of voters and authorized the San Francisco Community College District to issue $845 million in bonds. It required 55% approval. Proposition B authorized the city to issue $628.5 million in bonds to fund emergency services. It required a two-thirds supermajority and was approved by 81% of voters. Proposition C amended the city’s charter to allow for retiree healthcare coverage for certain former employees of the San Francisco Housing Authority. It was approved by 68% of voters and required a simple majority.
On Tuesday, 52.8% of voters in Oklahoma City rejected a proposed 0.125% sales tax to fund city parks. The measure was put on the ballot through a citizen initiative petition drive. It would have increased the total sales tax rate in the city from 8.625% to 8.75%. City officials estimated that the proposed 0.125% tax would have raised $15 million per year in revenue. OKC voters approved a 1% sales tax measure in December 2019 to fund the city’s Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPs 4) plan.
In Tulsa County, voters approved a measure authorizing the sale of alcohol on Sundays. According to election night results, 73% of voters were in favor of the measure. A state law allowing alcohol sales on Sunday in a county if voters approve a proposition such as this one was approved by the state legislature and went into effect in October 2018.
Los Angeles County voters approved Measure R on Tuesday 70% to 30% according to unofficial election night results. The measure was put on the ballot through a successful initiative petition campaign that submitted 247,000 signatures to the county clerk. Measure R tasks the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission with developing a plan designed to reduce the jail population and re-incarceration rates. It also grants the Commission subpoena power to investigate complaints made against the department. Going into the election, a majority of the nine-member commission needed to vote to request the Office of the Inspector General to subpoena documents or witnesses. Measure R gave the subpoena power directly to the Commission.
Reform LA Jails led the support campaign, Yes on R. As of January 2020, the committee had raised $1.9 million in contributions. Cari Tuna, the president of Open Philanthropy Project and Good Ventures, provided $1.2 million. Yes on R received endorsements from Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva came out in opposition to the measure, stating, “Measure R will open the floodgates for many more ill-advised lawsuits designed to seek documents that are not legally available for public release. … The Board of Supervisors, the Inspector General and the Civilian Oversight Commission would better serve the community by working collaboratively with the Sheriff’s Department.” Ballotpedia did not identify any campaign committees registered in opposition to the measure.
Maine voters defeat Question 1, the Religious and Philosophical Vaccination Exemptions Referendum, on Tuesday with 72.5 percent of voters against it.
Maine Question 1 would have repealed Legislative Document 798 (LD 798), which was designed to eliminate religious and philosophical exemptions from vaccination requirements for students to attend schools and colleges and for employees of healthcare facilities. With the defeat of Question 1, the elimination of religious and philosophical exemptions will go into effect on September 1, 2021.
Governor Janet Mills (D) signed Legislative Document 798 (LD 798) into law on May 24, 2019. Most legislative Democrats (84 percent) supported the bill. Most legislative Republicans (91 percent) opposed the bill. In June 2019, the campaign committee Mainers for Health and Parental Rights filed paperwork for the veto referendum seeking to repeal LD 798. On September 18, 2019, the campaign filed 95,871 raw signatures, of which 79,056 were found valid. A minimum of 63,067 signatures needed to be valid. On October 17, 2019, Secretary of State Dunlap (D) announced that the veto referendum qualified to appear on March primary ballots.
Alabama voters defeated Amendment 1, the Appointed Education Board Amendment, which would have renamed the Board and changed it from an elected body to an appointed body. According to election night results, 75 percent of voters opposed the amendment, and 25 percent voted in favor of it.
The measure would have amended the Alabama Constitution to rename the State Board of Education as the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education and changed the board members from being elected by voters to being appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.
The Alabama State Board of Education is an elected executive agency of the Alabama state government, responsible for managing the state’s public K-12 education. The board is composed of nine members, including the governor, who also serves as the president of the board. The other members are elected to four-year terms by voters in one of the state’s eight education districts.
This measure was sponsored by Republican Senator Del Marsh of Alabama’s 12th Senate District. On May 16, 2019, the Alabama State Senate approved SB 397, with 30 members supporting the amendment and five members not voting. On May 31, 2019, the bill was passed by the House in a vote of 78-21 with five members not voting.
Between 1998 and 2018, about 81 percent (72 of 89) of the total number of measures that appeared on statewide ballots during even-numbered years were approved, and about 19 percent (17 of 89) were defeated.
Due Date Too Late, sponsors of Colorado Initiative 120, reported submitting more than 137,000 signatures on Wednesday to qualify the measure for the November ballot. To qualify, 124,632 valid signatures are required.
The initiative would prohibit abortions after a fetus reaches 22 weeks gestational age. Colorado is one of seven states (and Washington, D.C.) that do not restrict abortion after a certain point in a pregnancy. Under the initiative, performing a prohibited abortion would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine except in cases where an abortion is required immediately to save the life of the pregnant woman. Medical professionals who are found to have performed a prohibited abortion would have their medical licenses suspended by the Colorado Medical Board for at least three years. A woman who has a prohibited abortion could not be charged with a crime under the initiative.
Measure sponsor Erin Behrens of Due Date Too Late said, “We are going to put a very reasonable limit of 22 weeks, which is about five months into pregnancy. And we think that this reasonable limit will pass overwhelmingly in Colorado, and we will finally be brought into the 21st century. We will finally be among all the other states that have reasonable limits, and we will finally not be the late-term abortion capitol of the United States.”
Dr. Warren Hern of the Boulder Abortion Clinic said, “These people have no concern for the health and welfare of the women we are helping. This is anti-abortion madness carried to a logical extreme.”
Ballotpedia identified one committee registered to support the initiative: Coalition for Women and Children. According to reports that covered through December 31, 2019, the committee reported $39,696 in contributions and $5,905 in cash expenditures. The largest donor the support committee was Donald Hood, who gave $10,000. Ballotpedia identified one committee registered to oppose the initiative: Abortion Access for All. The committee reported contributions of $30,000 (all from the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado) and expenditures of $60.
Four measures are currently certified to appear on the November ballot in Colorado:
An initiative to amend the Colorado Constitution to state that only a citizen of the U.S. can vote in federal, state, and local elections, instead of the existing language that says every citizen of the U.S. can vote;
An initiative to reintroduce gray wolves on public lands;
A referendum on whether or not to join Colorado into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact; and
A bond issue for transportation funding.
A total of 108 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Colorado during the 20-year period between 1999 through 2019. Forty-two percent of the total 108 measures were approved.
On March 3, 2020, the Virginia State Senate passed a constitutional amendment, which electors will vote on at the general election. The constitutional amendment would exempt one automobile or pickup truck from state and local property taxes for veterans who have a 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability.
In Virginia, local governments can assess annual taxes on personal vehicles based on their value. In Fairfax County, for example, the property tax on most vehicles is $4.57 per $100 of assessed value. A vehicle valued at $10,000 would be taxed $457 as personal property. Veterans with 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disabilities would be exempt from this annual tangible property tax on vehicles under this constitutional amendment.
In the state Senate, the vote was unanimous. In the state House, where the constitutional amendment was approved last month, the vote was 91 to 4. At least 51 votes were needed in the state House.
In Virginia, a constitutional amendment needs to be passed by a simple majority vote in both chambers of the state legislature over two consecutive legislative sessions to be certified for the ballot. Republicans controlled both chambers of the state legislature in 2019, when the constitutional amendment was first approved. In 2020, Democrats control both legislative chambers. The constitutional amendment is one of three that the Republican-controlled legislature passed in 2019, and it is the first one also passed by the Democratic-controlled legislature in 2020. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn on March 8.
The other two constitutional amendments address congressional and state legislative redistricting. One amendment would transfer the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts from the legislature to a redistricting commission composed of state legislators and citizens. It received bipartisan support in the Senate in 2019, but Democrats were divided in the House. The state Senate approved it for a second time in February 2020, but it hasn’t yet come up for a vote in the state House.
Since 1996, Virginia voters have decided 31 constitutional amendments. Twenty-seven (87.1 percent) of them were approved, and four (12.9 percent) were defeated. An average of three constitutional amendments appeared on general election ballots in Virginia.
Though the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, a majority of states have passed laws over the past 25 years legalizing marijuana usage for either medical or recreational purposes.
Americans in 33 states and the District of Columbia have access to medical marijuana. This represents 67.5 percent of the country (221,469,793 people). Seventeen of those states legalized medical marijuana via statewide initiatives, and the remaining 16 did so through their legislatures.
Medical marijuana is legal in 10 states with divided government, 14 states with Democratic trifectas, and nine states with Republican trifectas. Just one state with a Democratic trifecta has not legalized medical marijuana: Virginia, which became a Democratic trifecta following the 2019 elections.
Of the 33 states with medical marijuana, 11 states and the District of Columbia have also legalized recreational marijuana primarily through initiatives, representing 28.4 percent of the country (92,434,672 people). Of those eleven states, seven have Democratic trifectas and four have divided governments. No states with a Republican trifecta have legalized recreational marijuana.
So far in 2020, three states will have marijuana legalization initiatives of some kind on their ballots in November: Mississippi, New Jersey, and South Dakota.
Mississippi voters will decide the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Amendment, an indirect initiated constitutional amendment what would, if passed, establish a medical marijuana program for individuals with a debilitating medical condition.
South Dakota voters will decide Constitutional Amendment A and Initiated Measure 26. Constitutional Amendment A would legalize the recreational use of marijuana and require the South Dakota State Legislature to pass laws providing for the use of medical marijuana and the sale of hemp by April 1, 2022. Initiated Measure 26 would establish a medical marijuana program in South Dakota for individuals with a debilitating medical condition.
New Jersey voters will decide the Marijuana Legalization Amendment which would, if passed, legalize the possession and use of marijuana for persons age 21 and older and legalize the cultivation, processing, and sale of retail marijuana.
Eight other states currently have potential measures legalizing medical and/or recreational marijuana that might appear on their respective statewide ballots this year.
California voters will be deciding 289 local ballot measures and one statewide measure on March 3. Here is a preview of four notable measures in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego:
Los Angeles County, Measure R, Civilian Police Oversight Commission and Jail Plan Initiative was put on the ballot through a successful initiative petition campaign that submitted 247,000 signatures to the county clerk. Measure R would authorize the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission to develop a plan designed to reduce the jail population and re-incarceration rates and grant the Commission subpoena power to investigate complaints made against the department. Currently, a majority of the nine-member commission must vote to request the Office of the Inspector General to subpoena documents or witnesses. Measure R would give the subpoena power directly to the Commission.
Reform LA Jails is leading the support campaign, Yes on R. As of January 2020, the committee raised $1.9 million in contributions. Over half that amount, $1.2 million, was donated by Cari Tuna, the president of Open Philanthropy Project and Good Ventures. Yes on R received endorsements from Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva came out in opposition to the measure, stating, “Measure R will open the floodgates for many more ill-advised lawsuits designed to seek documents that are not legally available for public release. … The Board of Supervisors, the Inspector General and the Civilian Oversight Commission would better serve the community by working collaboratively with the Sheriff’s Department.” Ballotpedia did not identify any campaigns organized in opposition to the measure.
In San Francisco, voters will be deciding five ballot measures including Proposition E, the City Office Development Limit Initiative. Proposition E was put on the ballot through a successful citizen initiative petition drive sponsored by Housing Forward San Francisco. The measure would limit city office development if the city does not meet annual housing production goals by the percentage of units not produced and set the minimum housing goal at 2,042 units.
Office development was first limited to 950,00 square feet annually in 1986 with the approval of Proposition M. This annual limit established by Proposition M would be further cut if San Francisco does not produce enough housing for “Very Low,” “Low,” and “Moderate” income levels to meet the goal established by Proposition E.
In San Diego County, voters will decide on two related measures—Measure A, Voter Approval for Land Use Amendments to County General Plan and Measure B, General Plan Amendments for Newland Sierra Project. Measure A requires voter approval for amendments to the county’s General Plan that increase population density for semi-rural or rural land classifications. Safeguard Our San Diego Countryside is leading the Yes on A campaign in support of the measure. Planning Today for San Diego’s Future is leading the campaign in opposition to the measure. The current San Diego County General Plan was adopted in 2011.
Measure B amends the county’s General Plan to authorize the development of the Newland Sierra Project, which will include over 2,000 homes, a school, retail space, parks, and open space. The measure was put on the ballot through a successful referendum petition by the No on Newland Sierra campaign. The referendum was filed to repeal the San Diego County General Plan amendment that authorizes the Newland Sierra Project. It was approved by the county’s Board of Supervisors with a 4-0 vote in September 2018. Yes on B for a Better Choice is leading the campaign in support of a “yes” vote on Measure B, which would uphold the amendment passed by the county’s Board of Supervisors.
California polls are opened from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the day of the election.
The Alabama House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 81 on Thursday. If passed by the Senate, the measure would appear on the 2020 ballot for voter approval or rejection.
The amendment, referred to as Aniah’s Law, would allow people accused of Class A felonies to be held without bail “if no conditions of release can reasonably protect the community from risk of physical harm to the accused, the public, or both, ensure the presence of the accused at trial, or ensure the integrity of the judicial process.” Class A felonies in Chapter 6 of Title 13A include murder, kidnapping, rape, human trafficking, elder abuse, and domestic violence.
The constitution currently states that “all persons shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses, when the proof is evident or the presumption great; and that excessive bail shall not in any case be required.”
In Alabama, a 60% supermajority vote is required in each chamber of the Alabama State Legislature to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot for voter consideration.
The amendment was introduced as House Bill 81 on February 4, 2020, by Rep. Chip Brown (R-105). On February 27, the Alabama House of Representatives approved HB 81 in a vote of 104-0.
Representative Brown said, “Too many of those who are accused of violent crimes are bonding out of jail and committing even more serious offenses, and it is time for law-abiding Alabamians to start fighting back. Denying bail to those accused of violent offenses is a commonsense answer to a dangerous societal problem.”
The amendment is named after Aniah Blanchard, who was allegedly murdered by Ibraheem Yazeed. Yazeed, at the time, was out on bond after being arrested for kidnapping and attempted murder.
A total of 95 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Alabama from 1998 to 2018. An average of eight measures appeared on the ballot in Alabama during even-numbered election years. 81% (72 of 89) of the total number of measures that appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years were approved, and 19% (17 of 89) were defeated.
The legislature referred five constitutional amendments to the 2020 ballot during the 2019 legislative session. Four of the measures will appear on the general election ballot. Amendment 1, which concerns the state board of education, will appear on the March 3 primary election ballot.
Click here to learn about Alabama’s 2020 ballot measures