In November, Massachusetts voters will decide on a constitutional amendment that would create an additional income tax of 4% for income over $1 million, in addition to the existing 5% flat-rate income tax, and dedicate revenue to education and transportation purposes.
Raise Up Massachusetts, the campaign registered in support of the amendment reported $1.2 million in cash and in-kind contributions in 2021. The top donors to Raise Up Massachusetts include the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Massachusetts AFL-CIO, 1199 SEIU MA PAC, Omidyar Network Services LLC, and Jewish Alliance For Law and Social Action.
Coalition for a Strong Massachusetts Economy is registered in opposition to the amendment and reported $437,486.00 in cash and in-kind contributions. The top donors to the coalition include Robert Reynolds, Nino Micozzi, Jeffrey Markley, and Mark Casady.
The amendment is modeled after a 2018 initiative that was removed from the ballot after certification due to a lawsuit that ruled the initiative violated the constitutional requirement that subjects of initiatives be “related or mutually dependent.” Since the 2022 amendment is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, it does not need to meet the same constitutional requirement.
In 2018, Raise Up Massachusetts and the Coalition for Social Justice raised $1.97 million in support of the initiative.
Opponents of the 2022 amendment filed a lawsuit with the state Supreme Court on Jan. 27 arguing that the ballot summary is misleading and the court should remove the amendment from the ballot. The lawsuit was filed by Christopher R. Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) and Secretary of State William Galvin (D). In a statement, the Massachusetts High Technology Council said, “The promise of new public education and transportation spending is an empty one, because the amendment imposes no real limits on how the state legislature can spend the new tax revenues.”
According to separate reports from the Beacon Hill Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and the Center for State Policy Analysis at Tufts University, the additional tax could generate at least $1.2 billion in 2023.
In order to refer the amendment to the ballot, the state legislature needed to pass the measure with a simple majority during two successive legislatures. This amendment passed in 2019 by a vote of 147 to 48 with five members absent or not voting and again in 2021 by a vote of 159-41. Both votes were largely along party lines with Democrats in the majority and Republicans in the minority.
Between 1996 and 2020, about 54% (22 of 41) of the total number of measures that appeared on statewide ballots were approved, and about 46% (19 of 41) were defeated.
Every state but Delaware requires voters to ratify proposed changes to a state’s constitution.
There are four ways that proposed constitutional amendments can be proposed and put on the ballot:
Through legislatively referred constitutional amendments.
Through citizen-initiated constitutional amendments put on the ballot through signature petition drives. Eighteen states allow this method of amendment.
Through referral by constitutional conventions. In some states, automatic ballot referrals allow voters to decide at regular intervals whether or not to hold a convention.
In Florida, there is a commission-referred amendment process through the Constitution Revision Commission that meets every 20 years. It last met in 2018.
From 2006 through 2021 a total of 1,040 constitutional amendments were proposed and put before voters. This data only includes constitutional amendments put on the ballot for a statewide vote. It does not include certain state constitutional amendments that only apply to local jurisdictions and were voted on only by residents of particular local jurisdictions. It also does not include constitutional amendments in Delaware that weren’t subject to voter ratification. Of this total, voters approved 749 (72%) proposed changes to state constitutions.
In 2021, voters in seven states decided 24 constitutional amendments. Of the 24 proposed amendments, state legislatures referred 23 to the ballot, and a signature petition drive was used to initiate one in Colorado. Of the 24 amendments, 16 (66.66%) were approved. The seven states with constitutional amendments in 2021 were:
Colorado – 1
Louisiana – 4
Maine – 1
New Jersey – 2
New York – 4
Pennsylvania – 3
Texas – 8
Below are some of the notable amendments approved in 2021:
Maine voters enacted a first-of-its-kind constitutional right to produce, harvest, and consume food.
New York voters enacted a constitutional right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment.
Pennsylvania voters approved two amendments providing limits to and giving the legislature additional authority over the governor’s emergency declaration powers. Both were put on the ballot in response to conflict over responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Texas voters also approved two constitutional amendments in response to COVID-19: an amendment to prohibit the state or any political subdivision from enacting a law, rule, order, or proclamation that limits religious services or organizations; and an amendment creating a constitutional right for residents of nursing homes to designate an essential caregiver that may not be prohibited from visiting the resident.
Statistically, from 2006 through 2021, odd-year election cycles featured a higher approval rate for proposed constitutional amendments than even years. The average number of statewide constitutional amendments on the ballot in an odd-numbered year was 21, with an average approval rate of 81.10%. In even-numbered years, an average of 109 statewide constitutional amendments were on the ballot with an average approval rate of 70.27%.
Among states with a process for initiated constitutional amendments, Florida and Colorado featured the most proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot from 2006 through 2021, with a total of 56 and 53, respectively. Of that total, Florida voters approved 37, and Colorado voters approved 21. Among all 50 states, Louisiana featured the most proposed constitutional amendments (108) and the most approved amendments (77).
On June 24, the Oregon State Legislature voted to send a constitutional amendment to voters in November 2022 that would remove language that allows slavery or involuntary servitude for duly convicted individuals. The amendment would also add language to authorize an Oregon court or a probation or parole agency to order alternatives to incarceration for a convicted individual as part of their sentencing.
To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a simple majority is required in both the Oregon State Senate and the Oregon House of Representatives.
This amendment was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 10 (SJR 10) on January 11, 2021. It was sponsored by Democratic Senators James Manning Jr., Lew Frederick, and Rob Wagner. On April 14, 2021, the state Senate passed SJR 10 in a vote of 27-2 with one excused. On June 22, 2021, the state House passed SJR 10 with amendments in a vote of 51-7 with one excused. On June 24, 2021, the Senate concurred with the House amendments by a vote of 25-4 with one excused.
Oregonians Against Slavery Involuntary Servitude (OASIS) is leading the campaign in support of the amendment. They said, “SJR 10 would remove the exception of slavery and involuntary servitude from the Oregon State Constitution and brings us one step closer to a more just and equitable state and world. By changing this language, Oregon would do away with the antiquated racist legacy of slavery in our State’s most important document.”
In November 2022, Tennessee voters will also decide on a constitutional amendment to remove language that allows the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments. It would be replaced with the statement, “Slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited.”
In 2020, voters in Nebraska and Utah voted to remove language from their respective constitutions that allowed the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments. Nebraska Amendment 1 was approved by a margin of 68.23% to 31.77%. Utah Constitutional Amendment C was approved by a margin of 80.48% to 19.52%. Voters in Colorado approved a similar amendment in 2018 after rejecting the proposal in 2016.
Ten states, including Oregon, have constitutions that included provisions prohibiting enslavement and involuntary servitude but with an exception for criminal punishments. Nine states have constitutions that include provisions permitting involuntary servitude, but not slavery, as a criminal punishment. One state—Vermont—has 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.
In 2022, Oregon voters will also decide on a constitutional amendment to require the state to “ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right.”
From 1995 to 2020, the number of measures on Oregon ballots during even-numbered years ranged from four to 32. About 46.43% (78 of 168) of the total number of measures that appeared on statewide ballots during even-numbered years were approved, and about 53.57% (90 of 168) were defeated.
Florida Initiative 21-13, sponsored by Florida Education Champions, was cleared for signature gathering on June 23, 2021.
The measure would authorize sports betting at sports venues, pari-mutuel facilities, and online in Florida. The Florida State Legislature would need to pass legislation to implement the constitutional amendment such as providing for licensing, regulation, consumer protection, and taxation. Under the amendment, all online sports betting tax revenue would be dedicated to the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund of the Department of Education.
Online sports betting could be conducted by (a) Native American tribes and (b) entities that have existed for at least one year and that have conducted sports betting in at least 10 other states under the amendment. Such entities could begin conducting sports betting no later than eight months after the amendment is effective. Other entities or organizations could conduct sports betting no sooner than 20 months after the amendment is effective if authorized by state law.
In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case, Murphy v. NCAA (originally Christie v. NCAA), regarding the legality of a law implementing New Jersey Public Question 1 (2011). On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the federal government could not require states to prohibit sports betting, thereby overturning the federal ban on sports betting. The ruling allowed states to legalize sports betting if they wish. As of June 2021, sports betting was legal, or laws to legalize had been approved, in 30 states and D.C.
In 2018, Florida voters approved Amendment 3, which gave voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in the State of Florida.” Amendment 3 made the citizen initiative process “the exclusive method of authorizing casino gambling,” meaning the Florida State Legislature is not permitted to authorize casino gambling through statute or through referring a constitutional amendment to the ballot. The amendment is not applicable to compacts between the state and Native American tribes under the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that authorize gaming on tribal lands.
Florida made a compact with the Seminole Tribe in April 2021 that gave the Tribe the exclusive ability to conduct sports betting in the state. Under the compact, the tribe would conduct sports betting and would be required to give a minimum of $400 million per year to the state of Florida for the next 30 years, until 2051. Under the compact, sports betting would be available online and at pari-mutuel facilities to anyone in the state and would be “deemed at all times to be exclusively conducted by the tribe at its facilities” where the sportsbooks and servers are located.
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988 requires that any gaming activities provided for through gaming compacts between Indian tribes and state governments occur only on Indian lands, defined as “all lands within the limits of any Indian reservation.” Florida’s 2021 compact with the Seminole Tribe contains a severability clause, providing that, “[i]f at any time the Tribe is not legally permitted to offer Sports Betting to Patrons physically located in the State but not on Indian lands,” then the rest of the compact would remain in effect, meaning sports betting would then be available only on tribal lands.
Florida Education Champions said, “Our amendment will allow more competition and enable Floridians to use their favorite sports betting platform. [It] will bring competitive sports betting to Florida and allow fans to use their favorite online sports betting platforms, such as DraftKings or FanDuel. That means no monopolies or limited options.” Florida Education Champions spokesperson Christina Johnson said the amendment would “generate substantial revenue that can be directed to Florida’s public education system — without raising taxes.”
Seminole Tribe spokesperson Gary Bitner said, “This is a political Hail Mary from out-of-state corporations trying to interfere with the business of the people of Florida. They couldn’t stop Florida’s new gaming compact, which passed by an overwhelming 88 percent ‘yes’ vote from Florida’s elected legislators and enjoys 3-to-1 support from Floridians and guarantees $2.5 billion in revenue sharing. The guarantee is the largest commitment by any gaming company in U.S. history.”
To qualify for the 2022 ballot, proponents must submit 891,589 valid signatures. The deadline for signature verification is February 1, 2022. As election officials have 30 days to check signatures, petitions should be submitted at least one month before the verification deadline. Proposed measures 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 2022 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.”
Last month, an initiative was certified for the California 2022 ballot that would legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks in California.
In 2022, voters in Arizona will decide a ballot measure to allow the state legislature to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot initiatives in cases where the Arizona Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court declare that a portion of the ballot initiative is unconstitutional or illegal. In Arizona, the legislature must propose a ballot measure to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot initiatives. Initiatives often include severability clauses, meaning that if the courts declare a provision to be unconstitutional, other provisions can remain valid.
Arizona is one of two states—the other being California—that prohibits the legislature from repealing or amending a ballot initiative unless voters approve the changes through a new ballot measure. Arizona has an exception for changes that further an initiative’s purpose. Arizona adopted this restriction on legislative alterations in 1996 with the approval of Proposition 105, also known as the Voter Protection Act.
An example of an Arizona ballot initiative that has been partially, but not entirely, struck down is Proposition 200 (1998). It established the Arizona Citizens Clean Election Commission (CCEC) and a public campaign finance system. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision of Proposition 200 that triggered matching funds to candidates based on their opponent’s spending. The remainder of the law stayed in effect.
The constitutional amendment was approved along party lines in the Senate and House. Republicans hold one-member majorities in each chamber. The amendment needed 16 votes in the state Senate, and it received the support of the 16 Senate Republicans. It needed 31 votes in the state House, and it received the support of the 31 House Republicans. No Democrats voted for the proposal. State Rep. Athena Salman (D) said the 2022 amendment is “a very sneaky way to undermine the Voter Protection Act without actually having to repeal the Voter Protection Act.” Rep. Mark Finchem (R) stated, “It’s true that we have certain things in law that were referred to the voters or that the voters established. I have a real struggle with believing that that pre-empts any future ask to the voters for clarity and precision.”
Arizona voters approved 60% (44 of 73) of the amendments that the legislature put on the ballot since 1985. The legislature referred an average of 4 amendments to the ballot between 1985 and 2020, although legislators put no amendments on the ballot in 2020. As of June 25, legislators had referred one constitutional and one statutory change to the 2022 ballot. They can refer additional measures during the remainder of this year’s legislative session and the 2022 legislative session. Arizonans also have the power to initiate legislation as either a state statute or a constitutional amendment or repeal legislation via veto referendum. Signatures for 2022 ballot initiatives are due July 8, 2022.
On November 2, N.J. voters will decide at least two constitutional amendments, including an amendment to expand college sports betting. The ballot measure would allow wagering on postseason college sports competitions held in N.J. and competitions in which an N.J.-based college team participates. Currently, the state constitution permits sports betting except on games held in N.J. and on games featuring N.J.-based college teams. Therefore, the ballot measure would expand sports betting to include all postseason college sports competitions, as long as a nonprofit collegiate athletic association sanctions the game.
The state Assembly approved the constitutional amendment on June 24, 2021. The state Senate approved the constitutional amendment 21 days earlier on June 3. Democrats and most (36 of 43) Republicans supported referring the constitutional amendment to the ballot.
In 2011, voters passed a constitutional amendment to allow sports betting in New Jersey, except on college sporting events involving an N.J. team or taking place in N.J. Betting is permitted in-person, through telephone, or through the internet at racetracks throughout the state and casinos in Atlantic City. The constitutional amendment, however, was blocked after the NCAA, NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB sued then-Gov. Chris Christie (R) to stop the implementation of sports betting. The NCAA argued that the Sports Wagering Act violated the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which prohibited states from being involved in sports betting. On May 14, 2018, the case surrounding sports betting went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled 7-2 that the federal government could not require states to prohibit sports betting. In June 2018, sports betting was authorized in New Jersey.
Since Christie v. NCAA, 30 states and D.C. have passed laws to legalize sports betting. In Arkansas, Colorado, Maryland, and South Dakota, sports betting was legalized through ballot measures. Voters in California will decide a ballot initiative on November 8, 2022, on whether sports betting show be legalized at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks.
Between 1995 and 2020, N.J. ballots featured 35 constitutional amendments, and 91% of them were approved by voters. An average of one constitutional amendment appeared on odd-year general election ballots in New Jersey during this period. As of June 24, 2021, the legislature had referred two constitutional amendments to the ballot. The legislature can also refer general obligation bond issues. Legislation for ballot measures must be passed by August 2, 2021, for measures to appear on the ballot for November 2. Legislature passed after that date would place measures on the ballot for 2022.
The Louisiana State Legislature adjourned its 2021 session on June 10, 2021. It referred two constitutional amendments to the 2021 ballot and seven to the 2022 ballot.
The Louisiana Constitution limits legislation and constitutional amendments in odd-numbered years to matters concerning the state’s budget, government finance, and taxation.
The two 2021 constitutional amendments will be on the statewide ballot on October 9, 2021. In odd-numbered years from 1999 to 2019, 52 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot in Louisiana, of which, 36 (69.23%) were approved and 16 (30.77%) were defeated. There was an average of 4.7 amendments on odd-year ballots from 1999 through 2019.
Louisiana Changes to Taxing Authority of Levee Districts Amendment (2021):
The Louisiana Constitution authorizes levee districts, with district voter approval, to impose a tax of up to five mills ($5 per $1,000 of assessed value) for the purpose of constructing and maintaining levees. This amendment would remove the voter approval requirement for levee districts created between January 1, 2006, and October 9, 2021, and that vote in favor of this amendment in October. Levee districts created after October 9, 2021, would require voter approval to levy a tax.
The Board of Levee Commissioners of the Orleans Levee District may impose a tax of up to two and a half mills ($2.50 per $1,000 of assessed value). Voter approval is not required in this district. This constitutional amendment would not affect the Orleans Levee District.
Louisiana Increase Limit on Funding Reductions and Redirections During Budget Deficits Amendment (2021):
The amendment would increase from 5% to 10% the funds that can be redirected to a purpose other than what was originally provided for by law or as stated in the constitution during a projected budget deficit.
During the 2021 legislative session, the Louisiana Legislature referred seven constitutional amendments to November 8, 2022 ballot. In even-numbered years from 2000 to 2020, 96 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot in Louisiana, of which, 69 (71.88%) were approved and 27 (28.13%) were defeated. There was an average of 8.7 amendments on even-year ballots from 2000 through 2020. The legislature can refer additional amendments to the ballot in 2022.
Louisiana Adjustment of Ad Valorem Tax Rates Amendment (2022):
Currently, the state constitution provides for the adjustment of ad valorem tax rates up to the maximum authorized rate in effect the prior year. The maximum authorized rate is adjusted every four years in a statewide reassessment and may also be adjusted if the homestead exemption change.
The amendment would provide that ad valorem tax rates can be increased by a two-thirds vote of a taxing authority up to the maximum rate allowed by the constitution until the authorized rate expires.
Louisiana Reduction of the Maximum Individual Income Tax Rate Amendment (2022):
The amendment would decrease the maximum individual income tax rate from 6% to 4.75% for tax years beginning in 2022. The tax brackets for an individual would be 2% on the first $12,500 of net income, 4% on the next net income up to $37,500, and 4.75% on income above $50,000. The amendment would permit, (instead of require) a deduction for federal income taxes paid.
Louisiana Waiving Water Charges Amendment (2022):
The Louisiana Constitution currently prohibits the state or any local government from “loaning, pledging, or donating its funds, credit, property, or things of value,” though it provides certain exceptions. The amendment would add a new exception to this requirement in order to allow local governments to waive water charges for customers if water is lost due to water delivery infrastructure damages if such damages are not caused by the customer’s actions or the customer’s failure to act.
Louisiana Limit on Assessed Value Increase of Reappraised Property in Orleans Parish Amendment (2022):
The amendment would limit the increase in the assessed value of residential property in Orleans Parish to 10% of the property’s assessed value from the prior year. The effective date of the amendment is January 1, 2023.
Louisiana Increase Maximum Amount Invested in Equities for Certain State Funds Amendment (2022):
The amendment would increase the portion of money in certain state funds that could be invested in equities (stocks) from 35% to 65%. The increase would apply to the following funds:
1. Louisiana Education Quality Trust Fund;
2. Artificial Reef Development Fund;
3. Lifetime License Endowment Trust Fund;
4. Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge Trust and Protection Fund; and
5. Russell Sage or Marsh Island Refuge Fund.
The amendment would also remove a provision in the constitution that limits the legislature’s ability to increase the amount of money in the Millennium Trust that may be invested in stock and instead allows the legislature to provide for investments by general law.
Louisiana Creation of the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission Amendment (2022):
The amendment would create the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission. The commission would have eight members. The role of the commission would be to provide streamlined electronic filing and remittance of all sales and use taxes. It would also be responsible for promulgating rules related to all sales and use taxes levied by any taxing authority in the state. The administration of the commission would be funded by sales and use tax revenue. The amendment would require the state legislature to enact any laws related to the duties and funding of the commission. The commission would replace the Louisiana Sales and Use Tax Commission for Remote Sellers and the Louisiana Uniform Local Sales Tax Board after one year with all employees transferred to the new commission.
Louisiana Classified Civil Service Employee Public Support of Family Members’ Campaigns Amendment (2022):
The amendment would allow civil service employees to publicly support the election campaigns of individuals in their immediate family when off duty.
Click here for vote totals for each amendment broken down by political party.
The New York State Legislature voted to send five constitutional amendments to voters for the general election on November 2, 2021, and one bond issue to voters for the general election on November 8, 2022. The state Legislature adjourned on June 10, 2021.
On January 20, 2021, the first constitutional amendment was referred to the ballot. The amendment is designed to make several changes to the redistricting process in New York. Legislative votes were largely along party lines, with Democrats supported the amendment and Republicans opposing it. The ballot measure would repeal the higher vote threshold for adopting redistricting plans when the legislature is controlled by a single party. In other words, a simple majority vote would be required for the legislature to adopt plans regardless of party control. Currently, both chambers of the New York State Legislature are controlled by Democrats.
The second constitutional amendment was referred on February 8. The ballot measure would add a right to clean water, clean air, and a healthful environment to the New York Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Senate Democrats supported the proposal, and Senate Republicans were divided 6 to 14. Assembly Democrats, along with the chamber’s one Independence Party member, supported the proposal, while Assembly Republicans split 17-25.
On May 11, 2021, the legislature referred two constitutional amendments related to voting policy. One amendment would authorize the state legislature to pass a statute for no-excuse absentee voting. No-excuse absentee voting would allow any registered voter to request and vote with an absentee ballot. As of 2021, the New York Constitution requires voters to be absent from their home county, ill, or physically disabled to vote with an absentee ballot. Democrats in both chambers supported the amendment, while Republicans were divided 7-13 in the Senate and 13-30 in the Assembly.
The second May 11 amendment would repeal the requirement that persons must register to vote at least ten days before an election, thus authorizing the state legislature to pass a statute for same-day voter registration. Same-day voter registration enables voters to register and vote at the same time. In the Senate, Democrats supported and Republicans opposed the amendment. In the Assembly, Democrats and one Republican supported it, while the remaining 42 Republicans opposed the proposal.
On the final day of the legislative session, the legislature approved a fifth constitutional amendment in a unanimous vote in both chambers. The amendment would increase the New York City Civil Court’s jurisdiction over lawsuits involving claims for damages from $25,000 to $50,000.
The 2022 bond measure is a proposal that was originally set for the November 2020 ballot but was withdrawn due to financial concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Officially called the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act, the ballot measure would issue $3.00 billion in general obligation bonds for projects related to the environment, natural resources, water infrastructure, and climate change mitigation. It was included as a provision of the state’s budget. Most Democrats (38 of 43 in the Assembly and 88 of 107 in the Senate) voted to approve the budget. All Assembly and Senate Republicans voted against the bill.
In New York, constitutional amendments require a simple majority vote in each legislative chamber in two successive legislative sessions with an election for state legislators in between. All of the constitutional amendments approved in 2021 were previously approved in 2019.
Between 1995 and 2020, the legislature referred an average of 1.7 constitutional amendments to the odd-yer ballot. The highest number during this period was 6 in 2013. Voters approved 76% of the referred amendments.
On June 9, the Massachusetts General Court convened a joint session and passed Senate Bill 5 (SB 5) by a vote of 159-41, which sent an increase in the state’s income tax for top earners to state voters in 2022.
SB 5 is a constitutional amendment that would create an additional 4% income tax on income above $1 million, increasing the rate from 5% to 9%. The additional tax revenue would be dedicated “to provide the resources for quality public education and affordable public colleges and universities, and for the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges, and public transportation.” Currently, Massachusetts is one of nine states with a flat income tax rate (5%).
The amendment would also authorize the $1 million threshold to be adjusted according to any changes in the cost of living in Massachusetts using the same method used to establish federal income tax brackets. The tax would take effect on January 1, 2023.
The amendment is identical to a 2018 citizen initiative that initially qualified for the ballot but was later removed by the Massachusetts Supreme Court following a lawsuit where they ruled that the measure violated a provision of the state constitution that requires an initiative “contains only subjects … which are related or which are mutually dependent.” The ballot initiative, according to the ruling, encompassed two subjects—a tax and a dedication of revenue, which were not mutually dependent in their judgment. The state’s single-subject rule does not apply to legislative referrals.
Representative James O’Day (D) introduced House Bill 86 (HB 86) during the 2019 legislative session. In Massachusetts, both chambers of the state General Court meet as a single convention to vote on amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution. An amendment needs to receive the vote of 101 of 200 state legislators during two successive sessions to appear on the ballot. During the 2019 legislative session, the bill was approved by a vote of 147 to 48 with five Democratic members absent or not voting. During the joint session convened Wednesday, the bill was approved by a vote of 159-41. All but one Republican, Sen. Patrick O’Connor, voted against the amendment, and all but nine Democrats favored it. The sole Independent member, Rep. Susannah Whipps, voted in favor of it.
On the eve of the vote, Democratic Representatives James O’Day and Jason Lewis wrote, “The reason why the Fair Share Amendment is so popular is that most people recognize that our wealthiest residents can afford to pay a bit more in taxes to help fund investments that expand opportunity and make our Commonwealth more just and equitable for all. … In fact, investments in a stronger education system and improved transportation infrastructure will strengthen our economy, expand opportunity, and make Massachusetts an even more desirable place to live, work, raise a family, and build a business.”
Raise Up Massachusetts, the non-profit coalition that sponsored the 2018 amendment, tweeted after the vote Wednesday, “We applaud the state legislature for their vote and thank our many grassroots partners for making this possible.”
In opposition to the amendment, Christopher Carlozzi, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in Massachusetts, said, “A millionaire’s tax could also send wealthy people fleeing the state and leave Massachusetts with less revenue, which would place a financial burden upon the remaining residents who would see taxes go up, small business owners included.”
The amendment is the first ballot measure to be referred to statewide ballots in Massachusetts. Between 1962 and 2020, Massachusetts voters decided on 11 ballot measures related to state income tax. Nine measures were defeated, and two were approved.
The Louisiana Legislature voted on Sunday and Monday to refer two more amendments to the Nov. 2022 ballot, bringing to total to four. A two-thirds vote is needed in each chamber of the Louisiana Legislature to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot for voter consideration.
Last week, the legislature referred two amendments to the 2022 ballot concerning investing state money in stocks and electronic filing and remittance of sales taxes.
Louisiana Waiving Water Charges Amendment
This measure would allow local governments to waive water charges for water lost because of damage to infrastructure if damages are not caused by the customer.
This amendment was introduced as House Bill 59 (HB 59) by Rep. Jeremy LaCombe (D) on March 4, 2021. On May 19, the House passed HB 59 in a vote of 102-0. The Senate approved the amendment in a vote of 36-1 on June 6. The “no” vote came from Democratic Senator Karen Carter.
Louisiana Limit on Assessed Value Increase of Reappraised Property in Orleans Parish Amendment
The amendment would limit the increase in the assessed value of residential property in Orleans Parish to 10% of the property’s assessed value from the prior year. The effective date of the amendment is January 1, 2023.
This amendment was introduced as House Bill 143 (HB 143) by Rep. Matthew Willard (D) on April 12, 2021. On May 10, the House passed HB 143 in a vote of 97-3. The bill was amended and passed in the Senate on June 2 in a vote of 26-6. The House concurred with the Senate’s amendments and approved the amendment on June 7, in a vote of 94-1.
Potential 2021 and 2022 Louisiana ballot measures
There are six other constitutional amendments for the 2022 ballot and three amendments for the 2021 ballot that have passed one chamber of the Louisiana Legislature. They would appear on the statewide ballot if passed in the second chamber. The state legislature is set to adjourn its 2021 session on June 10, 2021.
Louisiana historical ballot measure statistics
From 2000 to 2020, 132 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot in Louisiana. Of the total, 96 amendments appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years, and 36 amendments appeared on the ballot during odd-numbered years.
The average number of amendments appearing on the statewide ballot was 10 in even-numbered years and 4 in odd-numbered years.
Voters approved 71.88% (69 of 96) and rejected 28.13% (27 of 96) of the amendments during even years. Voters approved 69.44% (25 of 36) and rejected 30.56% (11 of 36) of the amendments during odd years.