Other Ways to Have Your Say

by John Hood

While most attention is (and should be) devoted to the competitive races for federal and state office this year, voters in nearly three dozen states will also get the chance to weigh in on controversial issues directly in the form of referenda (usually placed on the ballot by elected lawmakers) and initiatives (placed on the ballot by voters via petition). According to a handy round-up from the National Conference of State Legislatures, there will be at least 150 such measures on the ballot in November, including 43 initiatives and four referenda to call constitutional conventions — in Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, and Montana.

Here are some of the notable ballot measures:

• Arizona, California, Oregon, and South Dakota will vote on various marijuana decriminalization or legalization proposals.

• Voters in at least 15 states will vote on fiscal measures that would either cap spending growth, change tax rates, or make other changes in budgetary laws and procedures.

• A California initiative would suspend implementation of the state’s climate-change regulations until the jobless rate falls below 5.5 percent (which will probably be quite a long time).

• Arizona voters will decide whether to prohibit racial or other preferences in state hiring, contracts, and school admissions.

• Seven states will allow voters to approve changes in law related to legislatures themselves. Several more will vote on election reforms, including a Florida measure to abolish the state’s taxpayer-financing scheme for statewide candidates.

A good place to research the substance of state initiatives and referenda is Ballotpedia. You can click on your state to get a rundown of what issues will be on your ballot November 2.