Tagballot measure

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.



Ranked-choice voting campaign submits signatures for Nevada ballot

On June 29, the Nevada Voters First campaign submitted signatures to qualify for the Nevada ballot this November. This came on the day after the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that the initiative may proceed to the ballot.

The Nevada Supreme Court ruled in favor of Nevada Voters First. The challenge to the ballot initiative, filed by Nathan Helton, argued that the measure violated the single-subject rule. The Supreme Court backed a lower court ruling from January. Justice Douglas Herndon wrote in the opinion that “although [the measure] proposes two changes (open primary elections and ranked-choice general elections for specified officeholders), both changes are functionally related and germane to each other and the single subject of the framework by which specified officeholders are presented to voters and elected.”

The campaign reported submitting 266,000 signatures, which exceeded the 135,561 valid signature requirement. The submitted signatures will have to be verified in order for the measure to qualify for the Nevada ballot.

The ballot initiative would establish a top-five ranked choice voting system, which would establish open top-five primaries and ranked-choice voting for general elections. Rank-choice voting allows a voter to rank candidates in preference from first to last. A candidate receiving first-choice votes of more than 50% wins. If no candidate is the first choice of more than 50%, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. And each voter who had ranked the now-eliminated candidate as their first choice, has their single vote transferred to their next highest choice candidate. This tabulation process would repeat until the one candidate with more than 50% support is determined as the winner.

In May, signatures were submitted for a top-four ranked-choice voting initiative in Missouri. Ranked-choice voting is also used for certain elections in Alaska and Maine.

The Institute for Political Innovation, founded by Katherine Gehl, said, “With more than 35 percent of Nevada voters unable to vote in a primary because they are registered as independent or non-partisan, and many more feeling under-represented by their respective party, it is clear that this antiquated system needs to change.”

Protect Your Vote Nevada, a committee opposed to the measure, said, “Their petition would make our elections unnecessarily confusing, complicated, and riddled with errors.”

If the initiative makes the ballot, it will join two other measures currently on the Nevada ballot for November – the Equal Rights Amendment, which would add language to the Nevada Constitution prohibiting the denial of rights based on race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, ancestry or national origin; and the Minimum Wage Amendment, which would increase the minimum wage in Nevada to $12 per hour.

If voters approve an initiated amendment in one election, it must win again at the next general election in an even-numbered year for it to become part of the constitution. In other words, if the initiative is approved in 2022, it must be approved again in 2024.

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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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2022 will feature the most abortion-related ballot measures on record; Campaigns respond to Dobbs

There will be at least five abortion-related ballot measures in 2022, including the first two ballot measures to provide explicit state constitutional rights related to abortion. On June 27, the California State Legislature passed a constitutional amendment, bringing the total to five – the most on record for a single year. Before 2022, the highest number was four measures in 1986. Since 1970, there have been 47 abortion-related ballot measures.

California, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, and Vermont have certified ballot measures for 2022.

Campaigns respond to the Supreme Court and Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Voters in California and Vermont will be the first to decide on ballot measures to establish state constitutional rights to abortion. Votes on these measures follow Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which held that the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion and overruled Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

In Vermont, Proposal 5 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” and cannot be infringed unless justified by a compelling state interest. Proposal 5 was first proposed in 2019. Eileen Sullivan, communications director for the Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund, cited changes in the U.S. Supreme Court’s membership as background for Proposal 5. Sullivan said, “Justice [Anthony] Kennedy’s retirement prompted action in Vermont, so that these rights in Vermont would be protected no matter what happens in Washington, D.C.” Vermont Right to Life, which registered to oppose Proposal 5, responded following the Supreme Court’s decision, saying, “Extremist proponents of abortion rights in Vermont will use the Supreme Court decision to attempt to rally support for passage of Proposal 5.”

In California, a constitutional amendment would provide that the state cannot “deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions,” including the decision to have an abortion or to choose or refuse contraceptives. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), Senate President Toni Atkins (D-39), and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-63) issued a joint statement calling for an amendment on May 2, 2022, following the leak of a Dobbs order draft. “We know we can’t trust the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights, so California will build a firewall around this right in our state constitution,” read the statement. The California Catholic Conference responded to the government officials’ statement, saying, “This will destroy lives, families, and significantly limit the ability of the Catholic Church in California to protect the unborn.”

In Kansas and Kentucky, voters will decide on constitutional amendments to provide that state constitutions cannot be interpreted to establish a state constitutional right to abortion. These types of amendments are designed to address previous and future state court rulings on abortion that have prevented or could prevent legislatures from passing certain abortion laws. In Kansas, the amendment is on the ballot for Aug. 2, 2022. In Kentucky, the amendment will be on the general election ballot in November. 

In Kansas, the campaign Value Them Both praised the ruling, “Today’s decision on Dobbs v. Jackson emphasizes the importance of our democracy, restoring the power to the states to decide how and if they are going to place limits on the abortion industry.” The campaign added that, since the Kansas Supreme Court has found that the state’s Bill of Rights provides a right to abortion, “The U.S. Supreme Court restored the people’s ability to come to individual consensus on abortion limits — but not in Kansas. As it stands today, unelected judges in Kansas are the ones who will decide the fate of abortion limits.” Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, the opposition campaign, stated, “The Supreme Court has voted to strike down Roe v. Wade. … We must keep fighting for the people in Kansas who are counting on us to defeat the constitutional amendment. Don’t leave the future of abortion rights in Kansas to chance.”

In Kentucky, the support campaign, Yes for Life, stated, “By overturning Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court remedied one of the darkest decisions in its history and sent a clear message for life. Kentuckians can vote on November 8th to make our Constitution unequivocally prolife. By voting Yes for Life, we can ensure there is no right to an abortion or the funding for abortions in Kentucky’s Constitution.” Protect Kentucky Access, the opposition campaign, responded, “Deciding whether or not to have an abortion is a medical decision that should be made between patients and their providers—not one to be made by the government alone. We can still turn back this terrible tide if we act together by defeating Question 2.”

Voters in Montana will also decide on an abortion-related ballot measure. LR-131 would provide in state law that infants born alive at any stage of development are legal persons. LR-131 would also require medical care to be provided to infants born alive after an induced labor, cesarean section, attempted abortion, or other methods.

Campaigns seeking the ballot in three additional states in 2022

With five abortion-related measures set for the ballot this year, 2022 will feature the most for a single year. However, campaigns for three citizen-initiated measures are active in Arizona, Colorado, and Michigan, meaning the number of measures could increase to six or more. 

In Arizona and Michigan, citizen-initiated constitutional amendments would provide that “Every individual has a fundamental right to reproductive freedom …”, including abortion and “decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy.” Signatures are due in Arizona on July 7 and in Michigan on July 11.

In Colorado, the campaign Colorado Life Initiative is collecting signatures for an initiative to prohibit abortion in the state, except to save a woman’s life, for ectopic pregnancies, and to remove a fetus that is no longer alive. Signatures are due in Colorado on August 8.

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Online sports betting is heading to the California ballot in November

On June 27, the California secretary of state reported that an initiative to legalize online and mobile sports betting had qualified for the ballot. The final random sample count concluded that over 1.1 million of the nearly 1.6 million signatures submitted were valid. The required number of signatures for the initiative was 997,139.

The initiative, sponsored by Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support, proposes a constitutional amendment and statute that would authorize a gaming tribe, an online sports betting platform with an operating agreement with a gaming tribe, or a qualified gaming company with a market access agreement with a gaming tribe to operate online sports betting for individuals 21 years of age or older in the state but outside of Indian lands.

Tribes and technology companies would be required to pay a one-time $10 million licensing fee and a license renewal fee of $1 million every five years. Gaming companies would be required to pay a one-time $100 million licensing fee and a license renewal fee of $10 million every five years. The sports wagering tax would be 10% and apply to sports wagers after deducting free bets, promotional credits, players’ winnings and prizes, and federal gaming taxes. Licensing and tax revenue would be allocated to the newly established California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Account and the Tribal Economic Development Account.

The proposed law would create the Division of Online Sports Betting Control within the Department of Justice. The initiative would give the division authority to regulate the online sports betting industry and investigate illegal sports betting activities.

This is the second initiative related to sports betting that has qualified for the ballot. The first initiative is backed by American Indian Tribes and would legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks. The online sports betting initiative contains a provision that states that if this initiative and the other sports betting initiative that has already qualified for the November ballot are both approved by voters, they would both take effect because the two are not in conflict.

Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support reported over $100 million in contributions as of March 31, 2022. Its top three donors include BetMGM LLC, Betfair Interactive US LLC (FanDuel Sportsbook), and Crown Gaming, Inc. (DraftKings).

The campaign has received support from the mayors of Fresno, Long Beach, Oakland, and Sacramento. Tamera Kohler, chief executive officer of the Regional Task Force on Homelessness for the San Diego Area, said, “This initiative is a critical step forward, dedicating revenue to the issue of homelessness is a win-win for our state. It would provide an ongoing funding source of hundreds of millions of dollars each year to fight homelessness and provide mental health services to those most in need. We are excited to partner with the coalition to pass this important measure in November 2022.” 

Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming and Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming are leading campaigns in opposition to the initiative. Together the committees have raised over $65 million. The top three donors include the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the Rincon Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of the Rincon Reservation California, and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. Chairman James Siva of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association said, “Don’t be fooled. These measures are not a fix to homelessness, but rather a massive explosion of gaming that will directly undercut tribal sovereignty and self-sufficiency.”

As of June 28, 2022, sports betting was legal or legal but not operational in 35 states and D.C. Five of the states—New Jersey (2011), Arkansas (2018), Colorado (2019), Maryland (2020), and South Dakota (2020)—legalized sports betting through a ballot measure.



Campaign submits signatures for initiative to decriminalize certain psychedelic plants and fungi and create a therapy program

On June 27, 2022, the campaign Natural Medicine Colorado reported submitting 222,648 signatures for a ballot initiative to decriminalize certain psychedelic plants and fungi. The ballot initiative would appear on the ballot in November.

The psychedelic plants and fungi, also known as hallucinogenic or entheogenic plants and fungi, that would be decriminalized for personal use are classified as Schedule I controlled substances in Colorado. These plants and fungi include dimethyltryptamine (DMT); ibogaine; mescaline (excluding peyote); psilocybin; and psilocyn.

The ballot initiative would also establish a program for the supervised administration of such substances; create a framework for regulating the growth, distribution, and sale of such substances to permitted entities; and create an advisory board to develop rules and implement the program.

To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 signatures must be valid. The secretary of state is responsible for signature verification. Verification is conducted through a review of petitions regarding correct form. The secretary then takes a sample of 5% of the signatures at random for verification. If the sampling projects between 90% and 110% of the signatures are valid, a full check of all signatures is required. If the sampling projects more than 110% of the required signatures, the initiative is certified for the ballot. If less than 90% are projected to be valid, the initiative fails. If a petition is deemed insufficient, proponents have 15 days to file an addendum with additional signatures. This cure-period does not extend the final deadline for signature submission, which is August 8 for 2022 ballot measures in Colorado.

Kevin Matthews, a representative for Natural Medicine Colorado, said, “This initiative would give Coloradans access to a new, promising, and research-based treatment option for PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges, in a safe, careful, and beneficial way. These medicines can be transformative for people who have suffered for years and struggled to find help.” Matthews also worked on the Decriminalize Denver campaign, which supported Initiative 301 in 2019. Voter approval of Initiative 301 made Denver the first local jurisdiction to decriminalize the use of psilocybin. The initiative made the adult possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms the lowest law enforcement priority in Denver and prohibited the city from spending resources on enforcing related penalties.

As of June 2022, 15 local jurisdictions had decriminalized psilocybin possession or deprioritized policing, prosecution, and arrest for possession of psilocybin. Three jurisdictions did so through the citizen initiative process and 11 did so through local government resolutions.

With the approval of Measure 109 and 110 in 2020, Oregon became the first state to create a program for administering psilocybin products, such as psilocybin-producing mushrooms and fungi, to individuals aged 21 years or older and the first state to decriminalize all drugs.

According to campaign finance reports through June 22, Natural Medicine Colorado reported $2.56 million in contributions (all from New Approach PAC) and $2.52 million in expenditures.

New Approach PAC has supported and funded initiative campaigns nationwide to legalize marijuana and create medical marijuana programs. In 2020, New Approach supported Oregon’s Measure 109 that created a program for administering psilocybin products; and Washington D.C.’s Initiative 81 that declared that police shall treat the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of plants and fungi that contain ibogaine, dimethyltryptamine, mescaline, psilocybin, or psilocyn as among the lowest law enforcement priorities.



Voters in five states will decide in November on removing constitutional language permitting enslavement or servitude as criminal punishments or debt payments

In 2022, voters in five states — Alabama, Louisiana, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont — will decide on ballot measures to repeal language from their state constitutions that allows slavery or involuntary servitude for the punishment of a crime, or, in Vermont, for the payment of debts, damages, or fines.

As of 2022, 10 states had constitutions that included provisions prohibiting enslavement and involuntary servitude but with an exception for criminal punishments. Nine states had constitutions that included provisions permitting involuntary servitude, but not slavery, as a criminal punishment. One state—Vermont—had a constitutional provision permitting involuntary servitude to pay a debt, damage, fine, or cost. These constitutional provisions were added to state constitutions, in their original forms, from the 1850s to the 1890s.

Measures on the ballot in November:

  • Tennessee Remove Slavery as Punishment for Crime from Constitution Amendment (2022): Removes language that allows the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments and replaces it with the statement, “Slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited.”
  • Oregon Remove Slavery as Punishment for Crime from Constitution Amendment (2022): Repeals language from the state constitution that allows the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments and adds language that authorizes an Oregon court or a probation or parole agency to order alternatives to incarceration for a convicted individual as part of their sentencing.
  • Vermont Proposal 2, Prohibit Slavery and Indentured Servitude Amendment (2022): Repeals language stating that persons could be held as servants, slaves, or apprentices with the person’s consent or “for the payments of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like” and add “slavery and indentured servitude in any form are prohibited.”
  • Alabama Recompiled Constitution Ratification Question (2022): Ratifies an updated and recompiled state constitution that was drafted to, among other changes, remove racist language. In 2020, voters authorized the Legislature to repeal racist language from the Alabama Constitution. The Committee on the Recompilation of the Constitution considered the servitude language to be racist, as well as having no practical impact on the state’s current practices. The section stating “That no form of slavery shall exist in this state; and there shall not be any involuntary servitude, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted,” was removed in the updated constitution.
  • Louisiana Remove Involuntary Servitude as Punishment for a Crime from Constitution Amendment (2022): Removes language in the state constitution that allows involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime. The constitution would be amended to say, “Slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited.” The amendment would add language stating that the section of the constitution “does not apply to the otherwise lawful administration of criminal justice.”

Previously decided ballot measures:

Before 2022, voters approved measures to repeal such language from their constitutions in three states — Colorado (2018), approved with 66% voting in favor; Nebraska (2020), approved with 68% voting in favor; and Utah (2020), approved with 80% voting in favor.

Future ballot measures:

Voters in Nevada could decide in 2024 to repeal language in the state constitution that allows the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments. In Nevada, a majority vote is required in two successive sessions of the Nevada State Legislature to place an amendment on the ballot. The amendment was introduced in the Nevada House of Representatives as Assembly Joint Resolution 10 (AJR 10). On April 13, 2021, it was approved by the House in a vote of 42-0. On May 17, 2021, it was approved in the Senate by a vote of 21-0. The amendment must also pass in the 2023 legislative session.



An initiative related to California dialysis clinics qualifies for the November ballot

On June 20, the California Secretary of State announced an initiative to enact staffing requirements, reporting requirements, ownership disclosure, and closing requirements at dialysis clinics had qualified for the November ballot. Californians for Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection, the campaign behind the initiative, submitted over 1 million signatures. The random sample concluded that 725,890 signatures were valid, surpassing the 623,212 signature threshold for initiated state statutes.

The proposed requirements include: 

  • requiring clinics to have at least one physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant—with at least six months of experience with end-stage renal disease care—onsite during patient treatments;
  • requiring clinics to report dialysis-related infections to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH);
  • requiring clinics to provide patients with a list of physicians with an ownership interest of 5 percent or more in the clinic;
  • requiring clinics to provide the CDPH with a list of persons with an ownership interest of 5 percent or more in the clinic; and
  • requiring clinics to obtain the CDPH’s written consent before closing or substantially reducing services to patients.

The ballot initiative would also prohibit clinics from refusing to care for a patient based on the patient’s form of payment, whether the patient is an individual payer, the patient’s health insurer, Medi-Cal, Medicaid, or Medicare.

The campaign is sponsored by SEIU-UHW West, which has contributed over $3.5 million. On its campaign website, Californians for Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection said, “We are dialysis workers and patients who are coming together to challenge the profiteering business model of the dialysis industry, to push dialysis corporations to make needed investments in patient care, and to stop extreme consumer overcharging.”

Similar measures were defeated in California in 2018 and 2020 by 60% and 63% of voters, respectively. The 2022 initiative is facing opposition from the same organizations. Stop Yet Another Dangerous Dialysis Proposition Committee has received endorsements from the American Academy of Nephrology PAs, California Chamber of Commerce, California Medical Association, California Taxpayer Protection Committee, and National Hispanic Medical Association. The campaign reported over $2.2 million in contributions from dialysis providers—DaVita, Inc. and Fresenius Medical Care.

Six initiatives have qualified for the 2022 ballot, including the dialysis initiative. An initiative to increase the cap on medical malpractice lawsuits qualified for the ballot in July 2020. However, in April 2022, the sponsors reached a legislative compromise with the California State Legislature and withdrew the initiative in May.

The other four initiatives relate to sports betting legalization, plastic waste reduction, K-12 art and music education funding, and a flavored tobacco products ban.

Between 2010 and 2020, an average of 87 initiatives were filed for even-numbered year ballots with an average of 10 making the ballot.