Ballot Initiatives Open Thread

And now on to the more important matters of ballot initiatives.

In general last night’s results lead me to believe that American citizens are moving towards a more liberal (in the classical sense) political stance. In peace-loving Massachusetts, my state, Question One dealt with access to information for do-it-yourself auto repair. A “yes” vote gave citizens and small repair shops access to the same information database that big-time dealers currently enjoy access to. This “right to repair” initiative passed by a very large margin.

Question Two dealt with physician-assisted suicide. Right now, many sources say the results are too close to call without a more-thorough count, but others are reporting that the initiative was marginally defeated by an active block of meddling Catholic voters.

Finally, Question Three – legalizing medical marijuana – passed by a huge margin. This plus similar anti-drug war initiatives passing in Washington and Colorado showcases weed-loving state governments continuing to blast their Bob Marley and Sublime music from their fishbowled cars as they drive past the metaphorical police station that is the federal DEA.

Massachusetts did well. How did your state do?

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54 thoughts on “Ballot Initiatives Open Thread

    • I have a love/hate relationship with citizen initiatives. This one is (at least IMO) somewhat good — weed is legal so far as the State of Colorado is concerned, and the legislature can’t mess with it because it’s in the state constitution, not just in statute. The state Attorney General has indicated he won’t challenge the legality of the amendment in court. How the DEA reacts remains to be seen. OTOH, over the decades we have garbaged-up the Colorado Constitution with all sorts of things that have no business being in there, with contradictory budgetary directives, etc. This time, with a requirement that the legislature must approve an amendment to the US Constitution that allows states to impose campaign spending limits if such an amendment is ever referred to the states.

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    • Yes but the initiative takes place at the state level, right? Smells like Federalism to me. And let me also add that I agree with you in spirit: populist initiatives are probably the only way to reform drug and prison policy and to get the government out of your bedroom. There aren’t any anonymous voters voting by secret ballot who are afraid of being labelled “Soft on crime”.

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  1. California was its usually crazy self.

    30 passed, which is great for public education, and a surprise for anti-tax CA.
    32 failed (Citizens United, the Union Version), which saves the state a lengthy court case ending with it getting overturned.
    34 failed (no more death penalty) but with a smaller margin of victory than the last time. Maybe next time.
    35 (human trafficking) passed, which goes to show that if it doesn’t involve taxes, people will vote for anything with a scary enough topic even if groups that actively work against those things put recommendations against in the arguments.
    36 (amend three strikes) passed, which is a first step at restoring some sanity to our prison culture.
    37 (label GMOs) failed, which was a surprise here. I think it’s because anti-GMO people already shop at farmer’s markets and everyone else is afraid it would make milk prices go up.

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      • I don’t freak out over GMOs in the least; OTOH, I don’t generally object to labelling requirements, even though they tend to be exception riddled to placate various specific lobbies.

        Based on my who’s agin versus who’s for, I leaned weakly pro.

        I voted no on 37 based on my heuristic that anything involving bounty hunting fees (in this particular case, “reasonable attorney’s fees and all reasonable costs incurred in investigating and prosecuting the action”) is almost certainly a bad idea.

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    • I found myself surprised at my opinions on 34. I’m nominally pro-capital punishment; while I see and understand the moral objection to it and recognize that retributive justice is the only real justification for it (it doesn’t deter anyone), I’m still good with all that. At least in theory.

      But the thing is, it’s so damned expensive! (And it ought to be!) I just don’t think we can afford it, and whatever abstract retributive value we get out of the process is not worth the hard dollar cost of keeping it around. If we ever get super wealthy again, then we can revive it. But for now, it seems to me that the cost-benefit analysis indicates that we need to have at least a moratorium on executions until we get our financial house in order as a state.

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      • I came to the following conclusion on the death penalty years ago: Humans are fallible. Ergo, innocent people will end up on death row. Death is not a reversible process. Neither is years or decades in prison, but you can always set a prisoner free — you can’t dig up an executed man and pat him off, send him back to society.

        Also, it’s expensive. It’s cheaper to just throw them in jail.

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    • I did much better than usual. (The following table is probably crappy. If the PTB could format it…

      Prop # Pete’s Description My Vote State Vote
      30 — Jerry Brown’s Tax Increase — YES — Yes
      31 — Budget Reform and Local Override — NO — No
      32 — Prohibiting Political Use of Payroll Deductions — NO — No
      33 — Mercury Insurance Rides Again — NO — No
      34 — Repeal of the Death Penalty — YES — No
      35 — Increase Penalties for Human Trafficking — Yes — Yes
      36 — “Three Strikes” Reform — YES — Yes
      37 — Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food — Yes — No
      38 — Molly Munger’s Tax Increase — YES — No
      39 — Closing Tax Loophole for Multistate Businesses — YES — Yes
      40 — Reaffirm State Senate Districts — YES — Yes

      I’m not real surprised about the death penalty, although I was pleasantly surprised about Three Strikes. I wavered a LOT on the GMO prop, but decided against Monsanto, rather than any real case for or against.

      Good on Cali!

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  2. Not my state, but Puerto Rico voted 61% for statehood.

    All in all, what I had thought was going to be a boring election year has turned out to be quite fascinating.

    In my own state, Michigan, all ballot measures were defeated. We shot down a proposal to require a 2/3 vote of the public in order to raise taxes. For god’s sake, nobody really wants to be like California.

    Also shot down enshrining the right to collective bargaining in the state constitution, which is good because no matter how you feel about CB, the message that would be received by businesses is “stay the hell out of Michigan,” and that’s the last thing we need them thinking right now.

    The strangest measure we had was a proposal to require a vote of the public before building a new bridge between Michigan and Ontario. This was sponsored by, and was solely for the benefit of, the owner of the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, the only bridge crossing in the region. MoFo’s got himself a nice monopoly and is willing to spend many many millions to defend it. He persuaded the less intelligent members of our state legislature to say no to building a second crossing, and then freaked out that Ontario wants one so bad that it’s willing to front Michigan’s portion of the cost, to be repaid out of tolls. He ran non-stop ads exhorting us not to let our state government spend our tax dollars without our consent (wait, didn’t we vote for them so they could, um, making spending decisions?). Got his ass kicked hard by the public yesterday.

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    • That was big news.

      Now let’s see what Congress does with it. Can you legitimately refuse to recognize Puerto Rico’s statehood on the grounds that you don’t want two more Senators and another House Rep that might join up with the other team? Inquiring minds want to know.

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      • Yes, you can legitimately do so. It’s Congress’s call, by Article IV section 3, which has no language constraining motivation.

        The GOP just having shot itself in the foot in two straight elections in its efforts to retake the Senate, surely doesn’t want to make the task harder. And Congress has no obligation to respond in any way to the referendum.

        But after years of repeatedly nudging PR to make up its mind about what it really wants, it’d be rather shifty to snub them now.

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            • 2012 platforms:

              Democrats: “We commit to moving resolution of the status issue forward with the goal of resolving it expeditiously. If local efforts in Puerto Rico to resolve the status issue do not provide a clear result in the short term, the President should support, and Congress should enact, self-executing legislation that specifies in advance for the people of Puerto Rico a set of clear status options, such as those recommended in the White House Task Force Report on Puerto Rico, which the United States is politically committed to fulfilling”

              Republicans: “We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a state, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the U.S. government.”

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  3. All three idiotic proposals passed in DC.

    As of now, a City Council member can be removed if every other member of the council votes to remove. That seems likely to never happen.

    Also, any member of City Council (or mayor) will be automatically removed after a felony conviction and ineligible to serve again.

    I was opposed to all three, the former for its toothlessness and the latter for their obstruction of the right to vote. Alas and alack, I was thwarted.

    Also, James forgets to note that Detroit decriminalized marijuana possession yesterday. A nice win in the Wolverine State.

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  4. Kentucky passed an amendment giving citizens the right to kill and eat critters using traditional means.

    With the various marijuana initiatives in Colorado and elsewhere passing, there’s a possiblity of a national constitutional amendement gaining steam that would require states like Colorado and California to pass a drug test before their EV are counted. This would possibly involve temporarily diverting the Colorado river into a pee-cup.

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  5. As a libertarian, I was vehemently in favor of Washington’s legalized pot law and it has passed. 74, the redefinition of marriage initiate looks like it will pass too.

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  6. Regarding the various marriage equality initiatives, I found the different language used interesting. Some states sought to make it legal. Others sought to ban it. If it was neither legal nor banned… what was it?

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  7. I finally checked the AJC to find that the citizens of Georgia voted to amend our constitution to give the state government the right to create charter schools on their own (recently the state supreme court ruled that they could not) for local school districts, using local tax dollars, regardless of the school district’s feelings on the matter.
    The result I had expected but not wanted.

    I had hoped that some skepticism of our deeply corrupt state government might tingle enough federalist principles, so loudly professed by my neighbors when applied to the powers of the Federal government, but it was not to be.

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  8. Reviewing my previous post on these – let’s see how much of my November Christmas List I got:

    Fingers crossed for “yes” on California Prop 34 (abolish death penalty) and Prop 36 (scale back three-strikes law), “no” on Prop. 37 (label GMOs; shows that conservatives aren’t the only ones who can prefer superstition above science), “yes” on at least one recreational marijuana use referendum (on the ballot in Washington, Oregon and Colorado), “yes” on Florida Amendment 6 (restricting abortion) and “no” on Massachusetts Question 2 (euthanasia). And, on Russell and North’s behalfs, “yes” on Maine, Maryland and Washington allowing same-sex marriage and “no” on Minnesota passing an amendment against it.

    Overall, I got 9/12 (getting everything but abolition of the death penalty in California, abortion restrictions in Florida, and marijuana legalization in Oregon – and as I’d have been happy with ONE state legalizing it, I’m thrilled that there’s TWO and don’t mind Oregon).

    Even without the presidential and congressional results, it was a good night.

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  9. Well, in MD, the voters passed:

    The gay marriage amendment
    The gambling referendum
    The redistricting referendum
    Probably more-but I stopped paying attention.

    Enough has been said on the marriage thing. I’m curious as to why the voters actually believed that the gambling money would actually go to schools (the ostensible purpose) when the state looted the education fund to pay other bills, to the tune of 300M+, in prior years. Hell, even the comptroller said it was a stupid plan. Maybe the subsidy to the casinos will allow the state to refill the education fund (so they can loot it again)

    And, finally, showing that MDers are 100% blue, MDers approved a grotesquely gerrymandered redistricting plan, ensuring that they’ll get all the “representation” they have coming.

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