Tagballot measures

Florida marijuana initiative has enough signatures to appear on 2024 ballot; state supreme court review pending

Smart & Safe Florida, a campaign supporting a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in Florida, has collected 967,528 valid signatures, exceeding the 891,523 valid signatures needed to be placed on the ballot in 2024.

State officials confirmed on June 1, 2023, that the campaign had submitted enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot and had met the signature distribution requirement mandating that signatures equaling at least 8% of the district-wide vote in the last presidential election be collected from at least half (14) of the state’s 28 congressional districts.

The initiative would legalize marijuana for adults 21 years old and older. Individuals would be allowed to possess up to three ounces of marijuana (about 85 grams), with up to five grams in the form of concentrate. Existing Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers would be authorized under the initiative to sell marijuana to adults for personal use. The Legislature could provide by state law for the licensure of entities other than existing medical marijuana treatment centers to cultivate and sell marijuana products.

The campaign has raised $38.5 million, all from Trulieve Cannabis Corp., a marijuana business that operates in several states, including Florida. According to campaign reports covering information through April 30, 2023, Smart and Safe Florida had paid $23.07 million to Axiom Strategies and Vanguard Field Strategies for signature gathering.

Across all states with an initiative process, the average cost of a petition drive increased 297% from 2016 to 2022. So far, the cost of this signature drive is 463% more expensive than the average signature drive cost in Florida in 2016. The cost of running a successful initiative signature drive in Florida was $4.1 million in 2016, $4.6 million in 2018, and $6.7 million in 2020. No initiatives qualified for the Florida ballot in 2022. Marijuana legalization initiative campaigns in four states spent between $68,000 and $3.66 million on signature drives for 2022 initiatives.

In 2016, voters in Florida legalized medical marijuana through a ballot initiative, which was approved by a vote of 71.32% in favor and 28.68% opposed.

In Florida, proposed initiatives are reviewed by the state attorney general and state supreme court after proponents collect 25% of the required signatures across the state in each of one-half of the state’s congressional districts (222,898 signatures for 2024 ballot measures). After these preliminary signatures have been collected, the secretary of state must submit the proposal to the Florida Attorney General and the Financial Impact Estimating Conference (FIEC). The attorney general is required to petition the Florida Supreme Court for an advisory opinion on the measure’s compliance with the single-subject rule, the appropriateness of the title and summary, and whether or not the measure “is facially valid under the United States Constitution.”

The measure qualified for a state supreme court review after collecting 25% of the total required signatures on April 6, 2023. On May 15, 2023, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) petitioned the Florida Supreme Court for an advisory opinion on the measure. Moody wrote that she believes “the proposed amendment fails to meet the requirements” and that she plans to “present additional argument through briefing at the appropriate time.” Briefings in the case are due by June 12, 2023.

In 2021, Attorney General Ashley Moody argued against a proposed 2022 initiative to legalize marijuana sponsored by Make It Legal Florida. Moody argued that the ballot title was misleading and inaccurately stated that the measure would legalize something that is illegal under federal law.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that the measure could not appear on the 2022 ballot. The court wrote, “A constitutional amendment cannot unequivocally ‘permit’ or authorize conduct that is criminalized under federal law. And a ballot summary suggesting otherwise is affirmatively misleading.” Justices Jorge Labarga and Alan Lawson dissented. Lawson said, “Because the ballot summary in this case complies with the constitutional and statutory requirements by which we are to judge ballot summaries, I would apply our precedent and approve this measure for placement on the ballot.”

The ballot language for the proposed 2024 initiative includes a sentence stating, “Applies to Florida law; does not change, or immunize violations of, federal law.”

In Florida, constitutional amendments require a 60% supermajority vote of approval to pass. This requirement was added to the state constitution through voter approval of Amendment 3 in 2006. Since then, nine constitutional amendments (including a 2014 medical marijuana initiative) received a majority of votes in favor but failed to reach the 60% threshold and were therefore defeated.

As of June 1, 2023, 23 states and Washington, D.C., had legalized the possession and personal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. In 12 states and D.C., the ballot initiative process was used to legalize marijuana. In two states, the legislature referred a measure to the ballot for voter approval. In nine states, bills to legalize marijuana were enacted into law. The average yes vote was 57.86% and the average no vote was 42.21% with an average margin of victory of 15.65%.

Of the 15 marijuana legalization ballot measures, four received a vote of approval of 60% or higher. The measure with the highest margin of victory was Washington, D.C.’s 2014 initiative, which was approved by a vote of 70.06% to 29.94% for a margin of victory of 40.12%. The measure with the lowest margin of victory was Maine’s 2016 initiative, which was approved by a vote of 50.26% to 49.74% for a margin of victory of 0.52%.

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Texas State Legislature sends 13 ballot measures to the November ballot during its regular session—the most since 2007

Texas voters will decide on 13 constitutional amendments this November—the most since 2007 when voters decided on 17 measures on two election dates. The average number of measures appearing on Texas odd-numbered-year ballots was 14 between 1985 and 2021. The year with the highest number of measures was 1987 with 25 on one election date.

The state legislature adjourned its regular session on May 29, taking final votes on four of the 13 amendments over the weekend. The final additions to the ballot relate to creating a state broadband infrastructure fund; creating a state energy fund to modernize electric generation facilities; creating a state water fund to finance water projects; and renaming the National Research University Fund to the Texas University Fund and establishing an ongoing revenue source from the accrued interest of the rainy day fund.

The nine other previously certified amendments relate to:

  1. issuing bonds for conservation districts in El Paso County;
  2. establishing a right to farming and ranching;
  3. increasing the mandatory retirement age for state judges and justices;
  4. abolishing the office of Galveston County treasurer;
  5. providing for tax exemptions on medical equipment and inventory;
  6. prohibiting a wealth or net worth tax;
  7. providing for tax exemptions on childcare facilities;
  8. creating the Centennial Parks Conservation Fund; and
  9. providing cost-of-living adjustments for annuitants of the Teacher Retirement System.

The state legislature convened on Jan. 10. The Texas State Legislature is one of 16 states that requires a two-thirds vote in each legislative chamber—100 votes in the House and 21 votes in the Senate (assuming no vacancies)—during one legislative session to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot. During the 2023 legislative session, legislators introduced 297 constitutional amendments, of which 47 passed at least one chamber. This compares to 218 introduced constitutional amendments with 16 passing at least one chamber in 2021 and 216 amendments with 19 passing at least one chamber in 2019.

One 2023 amendment that would have stated that only citizens could vote in Texas passed the Senate but failed in the House by a vote of 88-0 with 54 present and not voting.

Excluding the four newest additions to the ballot that do not have official vote totals yet, the average number of yes votes in both chambers for amendments on the 2023 ballot was 150. This is lower than the average yes votes received by amendments appearing on even and odd-numbered year ballots in Texas between 1995 and 2022, which was 164 votes.

The 2023 right-to-farm amendment received the most yes votes with 175. The amendment to prohibit a wealth or net worth tax received the fewest yes votes with 123—surpassing the two-thirds supermajority threshold by one vote in both chambers.

During the 2023 legislative session, Republicans controlled both chambers of the state legislature, as well as the governor’s office, making Texas a Republican trifecta. At the general election on November 8, 2022, Republicans retained control of the House and Senate, increased their 86-64 majority in the House, and gained one seat in the Senate. The new majority in the Senate following the election was 19-12. Changes in the state have impacted the prospects of constitutional amendments making the ballot. Republicans held 21 seats in the state Senate in 2018, which was enough to pass a constitutional amendment without support from Democrats. In 2023, Republicans held 19 seats, meaning at least two Democrats were needed to pass a constitutional amendment in the state Senate. 

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called a special session that convened on May 29 to address property taxes and the border. During the regular session, the Senate introduced a constitutional amendment to increase the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $70,000, which was amended by the House to $100,000. However, the two chambers did not pass a final version of the amendment prior to the regular session adjournment.

Gov. Abbott last called for a special legislative session in August 2021 that resulted in the placement of two constitutional amendments on the May 2022 ballot—the first even-numbered year statewide measures since 2014.

In Texas, a total of 281 ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1985 and 2022. Two hundred forty-eight ballot measures were approved, and 33 ballot measures were defeated.

Texans to decide constitutional amendment on cost-of-living adjustments for Teacher Retirement System in November

On May 25, the Texas Legislature took the final vote to send a constitutional amendment to the ballot that would authorize the legislature to provide for cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for certain annuitants, who meet criteria provided by law, of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. The amendment also authorizes the legislature to allocate money from the general fund to pay for the adjustment.

The amendment, House Joint Resolution 2 (HJR 2), passed the state House by a vote of 147-0 with three not voting on April 28. The state Senate passed an amended version of HJR 2 on May 22 by a vote of 31-0. The state House concurred on May 25 by a vote of 140-0 with nine not voting.

The implementing legislation, Senate Bill 10 (SB 10), passed the state Senate, was amended by the state House, and is headed to a conference between the chambers after the Senate did not concur with the House amendments. Under the House amended version of SB 10, annuitants would receive an annual gain sharing cost-­of­-living adjustment not to exceed 2% annually and contingent upon a five-year average pension fund investment return of 7%. The gain-sharing cost-of-living adjustment would take effect in Sept. 2028 and apply to annuitants who have been retired for at least three state fiscal years. The amended bill would also provide for a one-time cost-of-living adjustment in Jan. 2024. The rate would vary by the amount of time an annuitant has been retired ranging from 2% to 6% of a cost-of-living adjustment.

The Teacher Retirement System is considered actuarially sound with an authorization period of 27 years according to the Pension Review Board.

Legislative Chair for the Texas Retired Teachers Association Ricky Chandler said, “I think it’ll be a big help especially to the retired teachers and staff, not only teachers but everybody that’s a school employee.” He also said, “The inflation has really hurt teachers and employees that have retired years and years ago, some of them are just barely making it.”

Nicole Hill, communications director for the Texas American Federation of Teachers, said, “Good news is we saw movement, and we haven’t seen that in years,” she said. “But it just doesn’t go far enough. This is essentially crumbs.”

This is the ninth amendment to be certified for statewide ballots in Texas for Nov. 2023. Between 1985 and 2021, an average of 14 measures appeared on statewide ballots in odd-numbered-year elections in Texas.

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New York voters to decide on municipal debt limit exemptions for sewage improvements

A constitutional amendment regarding indebtedness for the construction of sewage facilities will appear on the ballot for New York voters on Nov. 7, 2023. The amendment was referred to the ballot by the New York Legislature.

In New York, for the state Legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, a simple majority vote is required during two successive legislative sessions. The amendment, introduced as Senate Bill S8931 in 2022, passed the Senate by 63-0 on May 31, 2022, then passed by 141-1 in the House on June 3, 2022. In the following legislative session, the amendment passed the Senate by 61-0 on March 23, 2023, then passed the House by 146-0 on May 17, 2023.

The amendment would extend an existing provision in the New York Constitution regarding municipal indebtedness resulting from the construction or maintenance of sewer facilities. Under the New York Constitution, state municipalities are under a constitutional debt limitation. In 1963, voters approved Amendment 5, which provided for these municipalities to exclude from their constitutional debt limits any indebtedness related to the construction or reconstruction of sewage facilities for an 11-year period. It was most recently re-approved in 2013, when 62% of voters approved Proposal 3. Proposal 3 extended the exclusion until Jan. 1, 2024.

The 2023 amendment would extend that exemption for another ten years up until 2034.

A memorandum in support of the legislation, submitted by the New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli (D), said, “The need and rationale for the debt exclusion cited in 1963 and in each subsequent extension remains relevant and valid today. Local government finances continue to be strained by the need to repair or replace aging sewer infrastructure. Indeed, the urgent need for improvements and upgrades to municipal sewer facilities is well-documented as an ongoing concern for local governments.”

New Yorkers approved extending this exemption five additional times after originally approving it in 1963.

  1. 1963: Voters approved Amendment 5 by 63%-36% on Nov. 5, 1963.
  2. 1973: Voters approved Amendment 1 by 54%-45% on Nov. 7, 1973.
  3. 1983: Voters approved Proposal 2 by 51%-48% on Nov. 8, 1983.
  4. 1993: Voters approved Proposal 2 by 50%-49% on Nov. 2, 1993.
  5. 2003: Voters approved Proposal 1 by 52%-47% on Nov. 4, 2003.
  6. 2013: Voters approved Proposal 3 by 62%-37% on Nov. 5, 2013.

As of May 23, there are two measures certified for the Nov. 7, 2023, ballot in New York. The other constitutional amendment, referred by the state legislature, would remove the debt limit regarding property valuations for small city school districts.

Nevada voters to decide on amendment regarding constitutional status of Board of Regents

An amendment to remove the constitutional status of the Board of Regents in Nevada, an elected executive agency responsible for managing the state’s system of higher education, will appear on the ballot in 2024 for Nevada voters.

In Nevada, placing an amendment on the ballot requires a majority vote in two consecutive sessions of the Nevada State Legislature. During the 2021 legislative session, the amendment was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 7 (SJR 7), and received unanimous approval from the Senate on April 13, 2021, with a vote of 20-0. On May 18, 2021, the Assembly passed SJR 7 with a vote of 30-11. In the second legislative session in 2023, the amendment was approved by the Senate on April 10, 2023, with a vote of 19-2. On May 18, 2023, the Assembly approved it with a vote of 34-7.

The Board of Regents oversees eight public institutions of higher education in Nevada, including the University of Nevada System. It is composed of 13 voting members elected to six-year terms in by-district elections. Designated members are elected every two years at the general election.

This amendment would remove the Board of Regents from the Nevada Constitution and would authorize the state legislature to review and change the governing organization of state universities.

An amendment to remove the constitutional status of the Board of Regents was also on the ballot for Nevada voters in 2020 as Ballot Question 1. Nevada voters rejected this amendment by 50.15-49.85%. Nevada Assemblymember Jim Wheeler (R), who supported Ballot Question 1, said, “Ballot Question 1 restores accountability, transparency, and oversight to higher education by reinvigorating the original intent of the framers of the Nevada Constitution. Question 1 simply makes the Board of Regents a statutory body, subject to checks and balances—an important American principle.”

Laura Perkins, a member of the Nevada Board of Regents who opposed the 2020 amendment on the ballot, said, “There’s no numbers or positive proof that the system that may or may not come out of this is better than the system that we have now.”

The Nevada Faculty Alliance, an organization representing all eight institutions in the Nevada System of Higher Education, said that they are neutral on the 2024 amendment. In a statement, the organization said, “Question 1, narrowly defeated in 2020, had a clause regarding academic freedom, but as written it would actually have endangered academic freedom. SJR7 is silent on academic freedom. In the 2021 legislative session, we offered an amendment to protect academic freedom, but it gained no traction. The constitutional independence of a governing board provides some protection for academic freedom; however, today we see both elected and appointed boards becoming politicized and they do not necessarily protect the principles we value.”

Currently, there are three constitutional amendments on the Nevada 2024 ballot in November. One measure, a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment, would provide for open top-five primaries and ranked-choice voting for general elections. The other measure, a constitutional amendment referred by the state legislature, would repeal language from the Nevada Constitution that allows the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments.

Minnesota voters to decide on extending lottery revenue dedication for Environment and Natural Resource Fund through 2050

Voters in Minnesota will be asked to keep providing revenue from state-operated lotteries to the Environment and Natural Resources Fund through 2050. The dedicated revenue source is set to expire at the end of 2024.

The constitutional amendment will appear on the ballot at the general election on Nov. 5, 2024. It’s the first measure certified for the statewide ballot in Minnesota since 2016.

In 1988, more than 80% of voters approved a constitutional amendment to create the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Fund. The amendment did not include a dedicated source of revenue. Also in 1988, voters approved an amendment to allow for state-operated lotteries. In 1990, the Legislature asked voters to dedicate at least 40% of revenue from state-operated lotteries to the Environment and Natural Resources Fund until 2001. The amendment was approved. In 1998, voters approved an extension, requiring the revenue dedication until 2025.

In 2024, voters will decide whether to continue dedicating revenue from state-operated lotteries to the fund through 2050. The ballot measure would also increase the amount of money that can be spent from the fund each year from 5.5% to 7.0% of the fund’s market value. The legislation that placed the constitutional change on the ballot also included changes to Minnesota Statutes. One of these changes would create a grant program to provide funding for projects related to addressing environmental issues in affected communities, environmental education, and natural resource conservation. An advisory board would make recommendations about grants, and the commissioner of natural resources would award the grants.

In the Legislature, the final version of the ballot measure was approved on May 21, 2023. In the Senate, the vote was 36-29. In the House, the vote was 89-41. Legislative Democrats supported the amendment. Legislative Republicans voted 2-29 in the Senate and 20-41 in the House.

Organizations that supported the amendment in the Legislature include the American Sportfishing Association, Association of Minnesota Counties, Ducks Unlimited, League of Women Voters, and The Nature Conservancy, among others. Their statement said, “We believe that Minnesotans deserve the opportunity to vote to renew the constitutional dedication of lottery proceeds to the ENRTF while dedicating additional lottery proceeds to the environment and reducing barriers for local organizations and communities to receive funding.”

Sen. Steve Drazkowski (R-20), who voted against the amendment in the Legislature, disagreed with how the new grants would be issued, saying, “So what we are doing is we are doing it again, we are doing what we have done in this Legislature for the last four months. Again, taking authority for appropriation from the legislative branch, and giving it to the executive branch, that’s what this bill is doing.”

Since 1996, voters have decided on 10 constitutional amendments in Minnesota. Eight of those amendments were approved, and two were defeated. In Minnesota, a constitutional amendment must receive a simple majority of all ballots cast in the election, rather than a simple majority of votes on the amendment itself.

Lawsuit filed challenging proposed Colorado property tax ballot measure set for Nov. 2023 election

Advance Colorado and Englewood City Council member Steven Ward filed a lawsuit on May 15, 2023, in Denver County District Court, challenging the property tax measure recently placed on Colorado’s Nov. 2023 ballot. The lawsuit alleges that the measure violates the state’s single-subject rule, which requires ballot measures to concern a single subject, and alleges that the ballot language is misleading.

Senate Bill 303, referred to the 2023 ballot by the Legislature, would make several changes to state property taxes and revenue limits. Among its provisions are the reduction of property tax rates, the retention and spending of state revenues that would otherwise be refunded to residents under the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), the allocation of funds to local governments to compensate for decreased tax revenues, the implementation of a limit on local government property tax revenue, and the establishment of a new cap on state revenue.

Michael Fields, president of Advance Colorado, argues that the measure contains multiple subjects. Fields stated, “This ballot measure clearly violates the single-subject provision in our Colorado Constitution. We’re talking about TABOR refunds going to education, we’re talking about money going to renters, we’re talking about long-term changes to TABOR formula, and we’re talking about limited property tax relief in the same measure.” Fields also said “On top of that, the ballot language is unclear and misleading. Voters deserve to know that they would be giving up their TABOR tax refunds in exchange for very little property tax relief.”

State Senate President Stephen Fenberg (D) defended the measure. In a statement, Fenberg said, “It’s unfortunate that Republican special interest groups are trying to prevent Coloradans from lowering their property taxes, but we are confident SB23-303 was crafted within the confines of the law, and we look forward to proving its constitutionality so that every Colorado family can enjoy immediate relief while protecting critical funding for services like schools, libraries, and fire departments our communities rely on.”

Three years ago, Colorado voters approved a measure that also made multiple changes to property tax laws. Amendment B repealed the Gallagher Amendment of 1982, which limited the residential and non-residential property tax assessment rates so that residential property taxes equaled 45% of the total share of state property taxes and non-residential property taxes equaled 55% of the total share of state property taxes. The Legislature passed a companion bill, Senate Bill 20-223, which allowed legislators to reduce the assessment rate in state law. 

Michael Fields was also an opponent of Amendment B in 2020. In a statement to Ballotpedia, Fields said, “The repeal of the Gallagher Amendment was supposed to make things better, but I opposed it because it would inevitably lead to huge increases in property taxes for Colorado families. That is exactly what we are seeing across the state. The legislature created this problem. They said they would come up with a solution and they didn’t. Now, the governor and legislature want us to give up our TABOR tax refunds for a tiny bit of property tax relief. It’s another bad idea.”

The 2023 measure requires voter approval under TABOR since it would increase state revenue. Since 1992, when TABOR was adopted, through 2022, Colorado voters have decided on 27 statewide ballot measures that would have increased revenue for the state, which required voter approval under TABOR.

  • Eight measures asked voters if the state could retain revenue as a voter-approved revenue change that would have otherwise been refunded to taxpayers under TABOR;
  • Five measures asked voters to adopt a new tax;
  • Two measures asked voters to eliminate a tax exemption (thereby raising state revenue);
  • One measure asked voters to reduce income tax deduction amounts;
  • Nine measures asked voters to adopt a tax increase;
  • One measure asked voters to adopt a tax increase and new tax; and
  • One measure asked voters to adopt a tax increase and eliminate a tax exemption.

Eight (29.6%) of the 27 measures were approved while 19 (70.3%) were defeated.

Additional reading:

Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR)

Update on this year’s and next year’s ballot measure certifications

As of May 16, 2023, 13 statewide measures have been certified for the ballot in eight states for elections in 2023. That’s five more measures than the average number (8) certified at this point in other odd-numbered years from 2011 to 2021. 

For 2024, 34 statewide measures have been certified in 18 states. That’s five more measures than the average number certified at this point from 2010 to 2022.

Here’s an update on the latest ballot measure activity.

Three new measures were certified for the 2023 ballot last week:

Two new measures were certified for the 2024 ballot last week:

Signatures have been submitted and are pending verification for one initiative in Michigan:

Signatures were verified for three indirect initiatives in Maine, and the initiatives are now before legislators:

In Ohio, one initiative to legalize marijuana was certified to the Legislature, which had four months to act on the proposal; as the Legislature took no action, a second 90-day signature-gathering period commenced on May 3.

Additional links:

Colorado voters will be asked in November to make changes to property taxes and tobacco taxes

The Colorado State Legislature referred two ballot measures concerning taxes and state revenue to the Nov. 2023 ballot before adjourning the legislative session on May 8.

Ballot initiatives on the ballot in Colorado during odd-numbered years are limited to topics concerning taxes or state fiscal matters under TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. This includes proposals for new taxes, tax increases, and changes related to taxes that result in a net gain in tax revenue. When voters approve a measure allowing the state to increase taxes and retain revenue, the estimated revenue is included in the ballot title and ballot information booklet. In some cases, the actual revenue the state receives is higher than the estimate, and thus, is higher than the amount voters initially approved. In this case, the state must ask voters whether the revenue may be retained and spent or refunded.

One measure, Proposition HH, would reduce property tax rates and allow the state to retain and spend revenues that would otherwise be refunded to residents under TABOR. Proposition HH would allocate this revenue to local governments for the purpose of making up lost tax revenues from the property tax rate reduction.

Proposition HH would create a limit on local government property tax revenue unless the district adopts a resolution or ordinance to exceed the limit. This wouldn’t apply to school districts and home-rule cities and counties. In order to exceed the local property tax revenue limit, a district would need to provide notice, conduct public hearings, and hear public testimony. Without following those steps, the local government would be required to refund the revenue above the limit to taxpayers. Annual growth in property tax revenue could not exceed the rate of inflation in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood Consumer Price Index.

The measure would make other changes to property tax law and create a Proposition HH Cap on state revenue, similar to the Proposition C cap, which authorized the state to permanently retain and spend revenue up to a cap, referred to as the Referendum C cap (equaling FY 2007-08 revenues adjusted by inflation plus population growth), beginning in FY 2010-11.

Voters will also decide on a measure that would ask voters to allow the state to retain and spend revenue the state received above the estimated revenue generated from increased taxes on cigarettes and tobacco and nicotine products from Proposition EE. Otherwise, the state would refund $23.65 million to distributors and wholesalers and reduce the tobacco tax rate by 11.53%.

Since 1992, when TABOR was adopted, through 2022, Colorado voters have decided on 27 statewide ballot measures that would have increased revenue for the state, which required voter approval under TABOR.

  • Eight measures asked voters if the state could retain revenue as a voter-approved revenue change that would have otherwise been refunded to taxpayers under TABOR;
  • Five measures asked voters to adopt a new tax;
  • Two measures asked voters to eliminate a tax exemption (thereby raising state revenue);
  • One measure asked voters to reduce income tax deduction amounts;
  • Nine measures asked voters to adopt a tax increase;
  • One measure asked voters to adopt a tax increase and new tax; and
  • One measure asked voters to adopt a tax increase and eliminate a tax exemption.

Eight (29.6%) of the 27 measures were approved while 19 (70.3%) were defeated.

The state Legislature also approved a constitutional amendment, which will appear on the ballot in 2024, to create an independent judicial discipline adjudicative board and create rules for the judicial discipline process.

Additional reading:

California parcel tax measures have an approval rate of 62% during odd-numbered years; in 2023, 89% have been approved so far

From 2011 to 2021, voters decided 216 parcel tax-related ballot measures in California during odd-numbered year elections. Voters approved 133 (61.57%) and rejected 83 (38.43%). Through April, voters have decided on nine parcel tax ballot measures in California in 2023. Eight (88.89%) were approved, and one (11.11%) was defeated. This approval rate is higher than the average for odd-numbered years from 2011 to 2021.

On average, 36 parcel tax-related measures appeared on ballots in California during an odd-numbered year.

Parcel taxes are a form of special property tax, which must be paid by the owners of parcels, or units, of real estate. However, unlike standard property taxes, which are based on the value of the property, a parcel tax is an assessment based on the characteristics of the parcel. These assessments can include taxing a parcel based on square footage or by dwelling unit, or the tax may be a flat rate per parcel.

Parcel taxes can be imposed by public school districts and on other local units of government, including cities, counties, and special districts. California is the only state that allows parcel taxes as a method for funding schools.

Of the parcel taxes approved by voters in 2023, South Pasadena Unified School District had the highest parcel tax measure, which asked voters to renew a current parcel tax at a rate of $4,764 per parcel for seven years to provide education funding.

The one parcel tax measure that was defeated by voters would have established a tax based on the square foot of buildings ($0.32 per square foot of homes, $1.42 per square foot for lodging, and other rates) to provide funds to acquire, operate, and maintain the Napa County Fairgrounds.

The measure that had the highest vote of approval was in the Salmon Creek Fire Protection District in Humboldt County, which was approved with 111 (96%) voters in favor and five (4%) opposed. The measure enacted a $75 per year special tax for each parcel to fund the Salmon Creek Volunteer Fire Company.

In 2023, Ballotpedia is covering local ballot measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the 100 largest cities in the U.S., within state capitals, and throughout California. You can review the coverage scope of the local ballot measures project here. Ballotpedia is also covering a selection of election-related and policing-related ballot measures outside of the largest cities.

Additional reading:

Parcel tax elections in California