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

StateTypeSubjectTitleDescriptionDate On The Ballot
MaineBIBondsTechnology Sectors Funds and Business Loans Bond Issue (Passed)$50 million in bonds for investment in tech sectors and businessesJune 13, 2017
MaineIndISSGambling Casino or Slot Machines in York County InitiativeAccept or deny an application for a license to operate slot machines or casinos in York CountyNovember 7, 2017
MaineIndISSHealthcare Medicaid Expansion InitiativeExpand Medicare under the ACANovember 7, 2017
LouisianaLRCABudgetDedicate new taxes on fuel to transportation construction fund amendmentDedicates revenue from new taxes to transportation projectsOctober 14, 2017
LouisianaLRCATaxesProperty Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouses of Emergency Responders Killed Performing Duties AmendmentCreates property tax exemption for surviving spouses of emergency responders killed performing dutiesOctober 14, 2017
LouisianaLRCATaxesNo Property Tax on Properties Under Construction AmendmentExempts properties under construction from property taxes until completionOctober 14, 2017
New JerseyLRCAEnvironmentRevenue from Environmental Damage Lawsuits Dedicated to Environmental Projects AmendmentDedicates revenue from environmental lawsuits to environmental projectsNovember 7, 2017
New YorkConConConConConstitutional Convention QuestionHold a constitutional conventionNovember 7, 2017
New YorkLRCAGov't AccPension Forfeiture for Convicted Officials AmendmentAllows judges to revoke the state pension of a public officer convicted of a felony related to officer's dutiesNovember 7, 2017
New YorkLRCAForests and ParksForest Preserve Land Bank AmendmentCreates a 250-acre land bank to provide forest preserve land for local projectsNovember 7, 2017
OhioIndISSHealthcareDrug Price Standards InitiativeRequires the state to purchase prescription drugs at prices no more than what the Department of Veterans Affairs pays for themNovember 7, 2017
PennsylvaniaLRCATaxesAllow Local Taxing Authorities to Exempt Full Value of Homestead AmendmentAuthorizes local taxing authorities to exempt the full value of homesteads from property taxesNovember 7, 2017
TexasLRCAHousingHome Equity Loan AmendmentMake changes to home equity loan provision of constitutionNovember 7, 2017
TexasLRCABankingFinancial Institutions to Offer Prizes to Promote Savings AmendmentAuthorizes financial institutions to offer prizes to promote savingsNovember 7, 2017
TexasLRCAGamblingDefinition of Professional Sports Team in Charitable Raffles AmendmentDefines Professional Sports Team in charitable rafflesNovember 7, 2017
TexasLRCATaxesProperty Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouses of First Responders Killed in Line of Duty AmendmentAuthorizes property tax exemption for surviving spouses of first responders killed in line of dutyNovember 7, 2017
TexasLRCAState ExecRequire Court to Provide Notice to Attorney General AmendmentRequires a court to provide notice to the attorney general of a challenge to a statuteNovember 7, 2017
TexasLRCAState ExecAppointed Officer Term Expiration AmendmentProvides for how long an appointed officer may serve after his or her term expiresNovember 7, 2017
TexasLRCATaxesProperty Tax Exemption for Partially Disabled Veteran with Donated House AmendmentAuthorizes tax exemption for property of partially disabled veterans received as donationsNovember 7, 2017
West VirginiaLRCABondsBonds for Roads and Bridges AmendmentAuthorizes $1.6 billion in bonds for highways, roads, and bridgesOctober 7, 2017

Make change where you can at the ballot box!

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Sources: BISC,  Ballotpedia

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