Moving Measures in the States

July 14, 2017

Ballot initiatives have become an integral part of the electoral process - as a form of direct democracy, and as another avenue for impacting policy change outside of, or in spite of, legislatures that are otherwise under Republican control.

A Ballot Initiative is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can bring about a public vote on a proposed statute or constitutional amendment.

Twenty-four states and DC allow ballot initiatives or, depending on the state, "popular initiatives," "voter initiatives" or "citizen initiatives."  Additionally, Maryland and New Mexico allow referendums (only).

Ballot Initiative Strategy Center Interactive Map! (Click)

2017 Initiative Highlights
There are 20 statewide initiatives in eight states that have qualified for the ballot in 2017, covering issues from bonds, taxes, housing and healthcare to construction, land preservation and gambling.

Major wedge, or publicly controversial initiatives, are usually held in on-election (even) years when congressional and more electoral seats are up, and ballot measures can be used to help drive higher voter turn out to the polls.

In 2016 there were 162 statewide ballot initiatives in 35 states, compared to an average of 35-45 in off years that tend toward state-specific tax and bond issues. Off-year measures, like those in 2017, tend toward tax and bond issues.

Initiative Types (below) LRCA: Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendments  (15), IndISS:  Initiative or Indirect Initiated State Statute (3), BI: Bond Issue or Legislatively referred bond questions (1), ConCon:  Constitutional Convention (1)

2017 Statewide Ballot Measures

State Type Subject Title Description Date On The Ballot
Maine BI Bonds Technology Sectors Funds and Business Loans Bond Issue (Passed) $50 million in bonds for investment in tech sectors and businesses June 13, 2017
Maine IndISS Gambling  Casino or Slot Machines in York County Initiative Accept or deny an application for a license to operate slot machines or casinos in York County November 7, 2017
Maine IndISS Healthcare  Medicaid Expansion Initiative Expand Medicare under the ACA November 7, 2017
Louisiana LRCA Budget Dedicate new taxes on fuel to transportation construction fund amendment Dedicates revenue from new taxes to transportation projects October 14, 2017
Louisiana LRCA Taxes Property Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouses of Emergency Responders Killed Performing Duties Amendment Creates property tax exemption for surviving spouses of emergency responders killed performing duties October 14, 2017
Louisiana LRCA Taxes No Property Tax on Properties Under Construction Amendment Exempts properties under construction from property taxes until completion October 14, 2017
New Jersey LRCA Environment Revenue from Environmental Damage Lawsuits Dedicated to Environmental Projects Amendment Dedicates revenue from environmental lawsuits to environmental projects November 7, 2017
New York ConCon ConCon Constitutional Convention Question Hold a constitutional convention November 7, 2017
New York LRCA Gov't Acc Pension Forfeiture for Convicted Officials Amendment Allows judges to revoke the state pension of a public officer convicted of a felony related to officer's duties November 7, 2017
New York LRCA Forests and Parks Forest Preserve Land Bank Amendment Creates a 250-acre land bank to provide forest preserve land for local projects November 7, 2017
Ohio IndISS Healthcare Drug Price Standards Initiative Requires the state to purchase prescription drugs at prices no more than what the Department of Veterans Affairs pays for them November 7, 2017
Pennsylvania LRCA Taxes Allow Local Taxing Authorities to Exempt Full Value of Homestead Amendment Authorizes local taxing authorities to exempt the full value of homesteads from property taxes November 7, 2017
Texas LRCA Housing Home Equity Loan Amendment Make changes to home equity loan provision of constitution November 7, 2017
Texas LRCA Banking Financial Institutions to Offer Prizes to Promote Savings Amendment Authorizes financial institutions to offer prizes to promote savings November 7, 2017
Texas LRCA Gambling Definition of Professional Sports Team in Charitable Raffles Amendment Defines Professional Sports Team in charitable raffles November 7, 2017
Texas LRCA Taxes Property Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouses of First Responders Killed in Line of Duty Amendment Authorizes property tax exemption for surviving spouses of first responders killed in line of duty November 7, 2017
Texas LRCA State Exec Require Court to Provide Notice to Attorney General Amendment Requires a court to provide notice to the attorney general of a challenge to a statute November 7, 2017
Texas LRCA State Exec Appointed Officer Term Expiration Amendment Provides for how long an appointed officer may serve after his or her term expires November 7, 2017
Texas LRCA Taxes Property Tax Exemption for Partially Disabled Veteran with Donated House Amendment Authorizes tax exemption for property of partially disabled veterans received as donations November 7, 2017
West Virginia LRCA Bonds Bonds for Roads and Bridges Amendment Authorizes $1.6 billion in bonds for highways, roads, and bridges October 7, 2017

Make change where you can at the ballot box!

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Sources: BISC,  Ballotpedia

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