CategoryBallot measures

Campaign behind a ballot initiative to increase the minimum wage in Nebraska submits signatures

On July 7, Raise the Wage Nebraska, the campaign behind a ballot initiative to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2026, submitted over 152,00 signatures to the secretary of state. Currently, the minimum wage is $9 per hour.

In Nebraska, the number of signatures required to qualify an initiated state statute for the ballot is equal to 7% of registered voters as of the deadline for filing signatures. Because of the unique signature requirement based on registered voters, Nebraska is also the only state where petition sponsors cannot know the exact number of signatures required until they are submitted. Nebraska law also features a distribution requirement mandating that petitions contain signatures from 5% of the registered voters in each of two-fifths (38) of Nebraska’s 93 counties.

As of July 1, 2022, Nebraska had 1,239,599 registered voters, which would make the signature requirement 86,772.

The initiative would incrementally increase the state’s minimum wage according to the following schedule:

  1. $10.50 on January 1, 2023;
  2. $12.00 on January 1, 2024;
  3. $13.50 on January 1, 2025; and
  4. $15.00 on January 1, 2026.

Every year after 2026, the minimum wage would be adjusted by the increase in the cost of living. 

In 2014, Nebraskans voted to increase the minimum wage incrementally to $9 by 2016. The measure was approved by 59.47% of voters.

The 2022 initiative has received support from State Senator Megan Hunt (D), Senator Terrell McKinney (D), the ACLU of Nebraska, Heartland Worker Center, NAACP Lincoln Branch, Nebraska State AFL-CIO, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska.

Nine states have passed laws or ballot measures increasing their statewide minimum wage rates incrementally to $15 per hour. California is the first of those states to reach $15 per hour in 2022.

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Two Massachusetts ballot initiatives filed a second round of signatures for a spot on the November ballot

The Massachusetts Secretary of State reported on July 7 that two ballot initiatives had filed a second round of signatures on July 6. 

One initiative would incrementally change the number of retail alcohol licenses an establishment could own from no more than 12 in 2023 to no more than 18 by 2031. It would also prohibit in-store automated and self-checkout sales of alcohol. The initiative is sponsored by the Massachusetts Package Stores Association.

The other proposal would set the medical loss ratio for dental plans at 83% and require the insurer to refund the excess premium to its covered individuals and covered groups. The Committee on Dental Insurance Quality is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. Daisy Kumar, a registered nurse and founding member of the ballot question committee, said, “We do not expect dental insurance companies to waste our premiums by overpaying officers, having giant, wasteful commissions, sneaking payments to affiliates or gifts to parent companies that just add another layer of waste. Our insurance payments are not meant to be gifts to dental insurance companies. They are meant to help families like mine and yours.” The Committee to Protect Access to Quality Dental Care, which opposes the measure, said, “The proponents of this ballot question are not being straight with the voters. What they aren’t telling you is that their anti-consumer proposal will increase costs for Massachusetts families and employers… and can result in thousands of residents being denied access to much-needed dental care.”

The process for initiating state statutes in Massachusetts is indirect, which means the legislature has a chance to approve initiatives with successful petitions directly without the measure going to the voters. The first round of signatures equal to 3% of the votes cast for governor is required to put an initiative before the legislature. The second round of signatures equal to 0.5% of the votes cast for governor in the last election is required to put the measure on the ballot if the legislature rejects or declines to act on a proposed initiated statute. 

Both initiatives submitted the required 3% of signatures in December 2021 and were presented to the state legislature in early 2022. Since the state legislature did not act on the initiatives by May 4, the initiatives were cleared to gather a second round of 13,374 signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

A spokesperson for the secretary of state said it would take about a week for the signatures to be processed.

Between 2010 and 2020, an average of 29 ballot initiatives were filed for each election cycle in Massachusetts, with an average of three making the ballot. For 2022, 20 ballot initiatives were filed, including one veto referendum. 

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Initiative to provide funding for pandemic detection and prevention programs qualifies for the California ballot in 2024

On July 5, the California Secretary of State reported that the initiative related to pandemic prevention programs, which initially targeted the 2022 ballot, had qualified for the 2024 ballot. The campaign submitted over 1.5 million signatures on May 5. The signature verification deadline was July 1—one day later than the June 30 deadline for the 2022 ballot. The final random sample count concluded that over 1.1 million signatures were valid surpassing the 997,139 signatures required to qualify.

The initiative would authorize an additional income tax at a rate of 0.75% on income over $5 million for a 10-year period. Revenue generated by the new tax would be deposited into the following newly established funds:

  • 25% of revenues to the Community Pandemic Response Fund;
  • 25% of revenues to the School Disease Spread Prevention Fund; and
  • 50% of revenues to the California Institute for Pandemic Prevention Fund.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that the state revenues from the tax would range from $500 million to $1.5 billion annually. The initiative contains a provision that would make revenue exempt from the state appropriations limit, also known as the Gann Limit. The Gann Limit prohibits state government and local governments from spending revenue in excess of per-person government spending in fiscal year 1978-1979, with an adjustment for changes in the cost of living and population.

In addition to establishing the funds, the initiative would create the California Institute for Pandemic Prevention tasked with awarding grants related to the development and implementation of a pandemic detection system.

The initiative has received endorsements from State Asm. Matt Haney (D), County Health Executives Association of California, and UNITE HERE Local 11. Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical & Biological Defense Programs Andrew C. Weber said, “We cannot afford another pandemic. Yet pandemic prevention efforts remain woefully underfunded. This initiative will fix that— it will prevent future pandemics by making critical investments in technology to create an early-warning system to detect and defeat biological threats.”

Californians Against Pandemics, the committee behind the initiative, reported over $18.5 million in contributions. The top donors were Guarding Against Pandemics ($12 million) and Open Philanthropy Action Fund ($6.5 million).

The initiative is opposed by Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the California Teachers Association.

In 2022, statewide ballots will feature six ballot measures in five states related to the coronavirus pandemic and related regulations. The measures concern the timeframe for changing election laws, the legislature’s power to convene a special session and change its adjournment date, government infringement on freedom of religion, and appropriation limit increases during emergencies.

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Oregon voters will decide on an initiative to disqualify legislators from re-election for legislative absenteeism, including walkouts

In November, Oregon voters will decide on an initiative to disqualify legislators from re-election if they are absent from 10 legislative floor sessions without permission or excuse.

On July 5, the Oregon Secretary of State announced that the initiative had received enough signatures to make the ballot. The proposed constitutional amendment needed 149,360 valid signatures (8% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election). On May 27, 2022, the campaign filed 184,680 signatures for verification. The secretary of state reported that 155,343 signatures were valid.

Currently, the state constitution authorizes legislative chambers to punish disorderly conduct, including legislative absenteeism, with a two-thirds supermajority vote. Punishment may include the expulsion of a member.

One committee, Legislative Accountability 1, is registered in support of the initiative. As of July 5, it had reported over $1.5 million in contributions.

The initiative has received endorsements from Gov. Kate Brown (D), AFSCME Council 75, the Oregon Education Association, and SEIU Local 503. AFSCME Council 75 Associate Director Joe Baessler said, “Oregonians just understand it on its face. You don’t show up for work without a reason and you lose your job like anyone else. That makes it super popular and fair, and so it will pass.”

Several times in recent decades, members of a minority party left the state capitol or the state entirely to prevent the passage of legislation. State legislatures require a specific number of members to be present in order to conduct official business, such as debating or voting on legislation. Ballotpedia tracked five noteworthy legislative walkouts in Oregon, where legislators left the state for at least a week or received significant national media attention. The legislative walkouts occurred in 2001, 2019, 2020, and 2021. Four of the five involved Republicans walking out during Democratic control of the state legislature, and one involved the inverse—Democrats walking out during a Republican-controlled state legislature.

The deadline to file signatures for ballot initiatives in Oregon is July 8. Sixty initiatives were filed targeting the 2022 ballot. The legislative walkout amendment is the first initiative to qualify for the ballot. 

Oregon voters will also be deciding on two legislative referrals. One would add “affordable health care as a fundamental right” to the state constitution, and the other would repeal language allowing slavery or involuntary servitude as criminal punishment.

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Campaign for marijuana legalization initiative submits signatures in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, the campaign behind a marijuana legalization initiative reported submitting 164,000 signatures for the ballot measure on July 5, 2022. Michelle Tilley, the campaign director, said, “The overwhelming number of signatures we have received demonstrates that our campaign has the momentum.” Of the signatures submitted, 94,911 signatures must be valid for the initiative to appear on the ballot in November.

Titled State Question 820, the ballot initiative would legalize the possession, transportation, and distribution of up to one ounce (28.35 grams) of marijuana, eight grams of marijuana in a concentrated form, and/or eight grams or less of concentrated marijuana in marijuana-infused products. Sales would be taxed at 15%. Under State Question 820, individuals could possess up to six mature marijuana plants and up to six seedlings. The initiative would also provide a process for individuals to seek the expungement or modification of certain previous marijuana-related convictions or sentences.

Revenue generated from marijuana sales taxes would be appropriated as follows:

  • 30% to the state General Fund;
  • 30% to grants for public school programs to support student retention and performance, after-school and enrichment programs, and substance abuse prevention programs;
  • 20% to grants for government agencies and not-for-profit organizations to fund drug addiction treatment and overdose prevention programs;
  • 10% to the state judicial revolving fund; and
  • 10% to the municipalities or counties where the marijuana was sold.

In 2018, voters approved a ballot measure to establish a medical marijuana program. The vote was 56.86% – 43.14%.

As of June 2022, 19 states and Washington, D.C., had legalized the possession and personal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Of these 19, 11 states and D.C. had legalized marijuana through the ballot initiative process.

From 1985 to 2020, a total of 17 citizen-initiated measures were on state ballots in Oklahoma. Voters approved 52.94% (9 of 17) of the measures and rejected 47.06% (8 of 17) were defeated.



Seven propositions on California’s general election ballot this year

June 30 was the deadline for ballot propositions to qualify for the November general election ballot in California. The deadline applied to signature verification, ballot proposition withdrawal, and legislative referrals.

Californians will be deciding on seven ballot propositions—six citizen-initiated measures and one legislatively referred constitutional amendment.

At the top of the ballot will be a constitutional amendment to prohibit the state from interfering with or denying an individual’s right to an abortion and use of contraceptives. The amendment passed the state legislature on June 27 after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey on June 24. With the proposition’s certification, 2022 became the year with the most ballot measures addressing abortion on record with five.

Voters will also decide on the following citizen-initiated measures:

  • A constitutional amendment and statute backed by American Indian tribes to legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks in California with a 10% tax on profits;
  • A constitutional amendment and statute backed by national sportsbook companies, like FanDuel and DraftKings, to legalize online and mobile sports betting outside of American Indian lands with a 10% tax on revenues dedicated to programs to address homelessness and tribal economic development;
  • A law to require a minimum source of annual funding—equal to, at minimum, 1% of the total state and local revenues that local education agencies received under Proposition 98 (1988) during the prior fiscal year—for K-12 public schools, including charter schools, to fund arts education programs;
  • A law to enact staffing requirements, reporting requirements, ownership disclosure, and closing requirements for chronic dialysis clinics;
  • A law to increase the tax on personal income above $2 million by 1.75% and dedicate revenue to zero-emission vehicle projects and wildfire prevention programs; and
  • A veto referendum to uphold or repeal the ban on flavored tobacco sales.

Two initiatives related to plastic waste reduction and medical malpractice caps had previously qualified for the November ballot but were removed by sponsors after legislative compromises were passed.

An initiative related to pandemic-related research and funding and another that would increase the state minimum wage to $18 missed the signature verification deadline on the 30th. The first had 981,582 of the 997,139 signatures needed, and the latter had 608,293 of the 623,212 signatures needed at the time of the deadline. With counties still processing signatures, the initiatives could appear on the ballot in 2024.

The legislature adjourned on Thursday before taking a final vote to refer a constitutional amendment to join five other states in 2022 in removing constitutional language permitting enslavement or servitude as criminal punishments or debt payments.

Fifty-three initiatives were filed in California for the 2022 ballot. With six initiatives qualifying for the ballot, the ballot initiative certification rate for 2022 was 11.3%. Between 2010 and 2020, the average ballot initiative certification rate was 11.9%. The lowest rate was in 2014 with 4.5% or four of 89 initiatives qualifying for the ballot. The highest rate was 2020 with 17.4% or eight of 46 initiatives qualifying for the ballot.

Between 1985 and 2020, California ballots featured 395 ballot propositions with 58% or 228 measures approved and 42% or 167 measures defeated.



Initiative to increase the income tax to fund zero-emission vehicles and wildfire prevention programs in California qualifies for the ballot

On June 28, 2022, the California secretary of state reported that an initiative to increase the tax on personal income above $2 million by 1.75% and dedicate revenue to zero-emission vehicle projects and wildfire prevention programs had qualified for the November ballot.

Clean Air California, the campaign behind the initiative, filed 990,608 raw signatures. The final random sample count concluded that 720,238 signatures were valid. The initiated state statute needed 623,212 signatures to qualify for the ballot. 

If approved, the new tax would take effect on Jan. 1, 2023, and end on Jan. 1, 2043, or, beginning in 2030, on Jan. 1 following three consecutive years in which greenhouse gas emissions were at least 80% below 1990 levels. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that the additional tax would generate between $3 billion to $4.5 billion annually.

The initiative would create the Clean Cars and Clean Air Trust Fund (CCCATF). The money in the CCCATF would be allocated to three sub-funds created by the initiative:

  • 35% to the Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Investment Plan Sub-Fund;
  • 45% to the Zero-Emission Vehicle and Clean Mobility Sub-Fund; and
  • 20% to the Wildfire Green House Gas Emissions Reduction Sub-Fund.

The initiative would require that half of the money in the zero-emission vehicle sub-funds go to projects and financial incentives in low-income communities. Funds are required to be used on zero-emission vehicle charging stations and infrastructure.

The funds in the Wildfire Green House Gas Emissions Reduction Sub-Fund would be allocated to CalFire and the state fire marshal to fund the hiring and training of firefighters; purchasing of wildfire detection and monitoring systems; improving fire suppression in fire-prone communities; improving defensible spaces around homes and communities; awarding grants for retrofitting homes in low-income communities; and supporting forest resilience programs and other forestry management.

Bill Magavern, one of the authors of the initiative, said, “We need to protect the health of Californians. California needs to step up to protect its own. The state is doing a lot to reduce harmful emissions but the budget, even with the governor making the commitment he has, is insufficient to address these problems.”

The initiative has received opposition from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the California Teachers Association. Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said, “We already have some of the highest taxes in the country. A lot of the air pollution in Southern California could be eliminated by spending transportation dollars on freeway improvements to reduce traffic jams. If these proposals are really priorities, they should be paid for out of the existing general fund.”

The initiative is the eighth to qualify for the ballot. The deadline to withdraw from the ballot is June 30th. California voters will also be deciding on ballot measures related to a constitutional right to abortion and contraception, sports betting, plastic waste reduction, K-12 art and music education funding, dialysis clinic requirements, and a flavored tobacco products ban.

The average number of initiatives filed in California between 2010 and 2020 was about 87 initiatives with an average of 10 being certified for the ballot. A total of 53 initiatives were filed for the 2022 ballot. Seven have qualified for the ballot. The other ballot measure that will appear on the November ballot was referred by the state legislature.

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Californians will decide on an amendment to provide a right to abortion and contraceptives in November

On June 27, the California State Assembly voted 58-16 on a constitutional amendment providing that “The state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions …” Voters will decide on the measure in November.

The amendment was introduced following the leak of a draft majority opinion for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on May 2. In announcing the amendment, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said, “We are proposing an amendment to enshrine the right to choose in the California constitution. We can’t trust SCOTUS to protect the right to abortion, so we’ll do it ourselves. Women will remain protected here.”

The amendment states: “The state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.”

Currently, abortion is legal in California up to fetal viability and after viability if the procedure is necessary to protect the life or health of the mother.

On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case Dobbs, which held that “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D), one of the sponsors of the amendment, tweeted, “In light of the #DobbsVJackson decision, the need to explicitly protect access to #abortion and contraception is stronger than ever. I thank my @AssemblyDems colleagues for passing #SCA10 today and enabling the voters to enshrine #reproductiverights in our state constitution.”

The California Conference of Catholic Bishops opposes the amendment. They said, “We challenge lawmakers to provide equitable assistance and commit new funding and resources for maternity and childcare. California needs to be a sanctuary for women, children, and families struggling to thrive in our state over those seeking abortions. It’s time to reverse the state’s priorities.”

California is the fifth state to have a ballot measure related to abortion on its ballot in 2022. Vermont voters are deciding on an amendment in November that would provide that an “individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course …”

Voters in Kansas and Kentucky will be deciding on similar constitutional amendments that would state that nothing in their respective state constitutions provides a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion. In Montana, voters will decide on a law to require medical care to be provided to infants born alive and convict healthcare providers that do not provide care with a felony.

California ballots have featured three ballot measures related to abortion in 2005, 2006, and 2008. All three were related to parental notification before an abortion could be performed on an unemancipated minor. All three were defeated.

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Arizona voters to decide on sales tax to fund fire districts

The Arizona State Legislature voted to place a measure on the general election ballot to create a 0.1% sales tax, which would be levied from Dec. 31, 2022, to Dec. 31, 2042, that would fund fire districts.

The measure passed the state House on June 22, 2022, by a 34-25 vote. There was some division between party lines, with all 25 ‘no’ votes belonging to Republicans, while 28 Democrats and 6 Republicans voted to approve the measure.

Sen. Paul Boyer (R-20), who sponsored the measure as Senate Concurrent Resolution 1049 (SCR1049), said that the tax would generate $150 million annually for Arizona’s fire districts, and that the fire districts need help.

“Arizona’s 144 fire districts are in the midst of a serious, but largely unknown crisis – a shortage of manpower, equipment and resources our state can and should address to keep residents and visitors safe,” he said in an op-ed to Tucson.com, “SCR 1049 would put on the November ballot the Arizona Fire District Safety Act. Should voters approve it, this measure would create a temporary one-tenth-of-a-penny increase in the state’s sales tax.”

“This increase in funding will take the pressure off fire fighters and paramedics,” he continued, “And help ensure that fire districts have the staffing, equipment, and training necessary to provide fire services along with emergency and medical services to citizens in need throughout the entire state of Arizona.”

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club called the proposed sales tax “unfair and unnecessary.” “If enacted, all Arizona taxpayers would be forced to subsidize 1.5 million other Arizona taxpayers despite already paying taxes for fire and emergency services in their own communities,” the Arizona Free Enterprise Club argued, “This policy is essentially a bailout for fire districts who have recklessly and wastefully spent taxpayer money. Having Arizona’s taxpayers indiscriminately subsidize districts that are not good stewards of taxpayer money is a perverse incentive.”

The general election is on November 8, 2022, and there are currently eight measures on the Arizona ballot. The seven others are:

  • The In-State Tuition for Non-Citizen Residents Measure, which repeals provisions of Proposition 300 (2006) to allow in-state tuition for non-citizen residents.
  • The Voter Identification Requirements for Mail-In Ballots and In-Person Voting Measure, which requires date of birth and voter identification number for mail-in ballots and eliminates two-document alternative to photo ID for in-person voting
  • The 60% Supermajority Vote Requirement for Constitutional Amendments and Ballot Initiatives Amendment, which would require a three-fifths (60%) supermajority vote to pass ballot initiatives (both statutes and constitutional amendments) and legislatively referred amendments
  • The Legislative Changes to Ballot Initiatives with Invalid Provisions Amendment, which allows the legislature to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot measures that contain provisions ruled unconstitutional or invalid by the state or federal supreme court.
  • The Single-Subject Requirement for Ballot Initiatives Amendment, which requires citizen-initiated ballot measures to embrace a single subject.
  • The Property Tax Exemptions Amendment, which allows the legislature to set certain property tax exemption amounts and qualifications
  • The Create the Office of Lieutenant Governor Amendment, which creates the office of Lieutenant Governor

In Arizona, 15 legislatively referred state statutes have been put on the ballot between 1985 and 2020. Eleven of them (73%) have been approved by voters, while 4 of them (27%) have been defeated.

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Property tax exemptions amendment to appear on Arizona ballot

On June 22, 2022, the Arizona State Legislature voted to place a constitutional amendment regarding property taxes on the ballot in November.

The amendment, introduced by Sen. J.D. Mesnard (R-17) and Sen. Vince Leach (R-11), would consolidate the property tax provisions within the Arizona Constitution into a single provision, as well as allowing the legislature to set certain property tax exemption amounts and qualifications. This includes property tax exemptions for certain individuals, such as widows and widowers, those with disabilities, and disabled veterans, as well as for property used for trade, business, or agriculture.

The amendment would also repeal constitutional language providing for a property tax exemption for honorably discharged veterans. This was ruled unconstitutional in Benjamin v. Arizona Department of Revenue, decided by the Arizona Court of Appeals.

The measure was part of a series of pieces of legislation passed by the Arizona State Legislature as they adjourned their session on June 25, 2022.

There are currently eight measures on the Arizona ballot this November. The seven others are:

  • The In-State Tuition for Non-Citizen Residents Measure, which repeals provisions of Proposition 300 (2006) to allow in-state tuition for non-citizen residents
  • The Voter Identification Requirements for Mail-In Ballots and In-Person Voting Measure, which requires date of birth and voter identification number for mail-in ballots and eliminates two-document alternative to photo ID for in-person voting
  • The Sales Tax for Fire District Funding Measure, which creates a 0.1% sales tax for 20 years to fund Arizona’s fire districts
  • The Legislative Changes to Ballot Initiatives with Invalid Provisions Amendment, which allows the legislature to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot measures that contain provisions ruled unconstitutional or invalid by the state or federal supreme court
  • The Single-Subject Requirement for Ballot Initiatives Amendment, which requires citizen-initiated ballot measures to embrace a single subject
  • The Create the Office of Lieutenant Governor Amendment, which creates the office of Lieutenant Governor
  • The 60% Supermajority Vote Requirement for Constitutional Amendments and Ballot Initiatives Amendment, which would require a three-fifths (60%) supermajority vote to pass ballot initiatives (both statutes and constitutional amendments) and legislatively referred amendments

In Arizona, 73 legislatively referred constitutional amendments have been on the ballot between 1985 and 2020. Forty-four (60%) of them have been approved, and 29 (40%) of them have been defeated.

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