The Corner

Voters Get Their Say on Pot, Guns, Taxes, and Wages

There are 154 measures on statewide ballots today, according to the indispensable Ballotpedia website. Although there are initiatives or referenda on dozens of different issues, the largest categories of ballot measures this year involve the issues of gun control, taxes, health care, marijuana, and the minimum wage. Some of the most prominent and consequential measures include:

• Colorado’s Amendment 69, which would impose a 10 percent tax on payrolls and other incomes to fund a “public option” state-run health plan. If this ColoradoCare scheme is approved, the state would instantly become one of the highest-taxed in the nation. On the other hand, Coloradans would gain the ability to ridicule Vermonters as being too conservative, truly an impressive accomplishment.

• Oregon Measure 97, which would create a new gross-receipts tax in a state that currently lacks a retail sales tax. It would be the equivalent of a 25 percent increase in Oregon’s state tax burden. Despite its blue electoral tint and liberal reputation, Oregon ranks well on some measures of tax competitiveness, because it doesn’t tax sales. Measure 97 would change that dramatically for the worse.

• California Proposition 63, which would prohibit “large-capacity ammunition magazines” as well as require a government permit for consumers to purchase ammunition. Naturally, criminals are terrified at the prospect of having to comply with these onerous and comprehensively enforced rules. But because they also conscientiously obey all election laws, their voter participation rates are low enough that it’s anyone guess how this will turn out.

• Pot legalization or decriminalization measures on the ballot in nine states: California, Florida, Massachusetts, Arizona, Arkansas, Maine, Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota. As usual, the GOTV challenge for supporters is that their voters tend to show up late, often after the polls have already closed, and get Cheetos stains on everything.

• Proposed hikes in state minimum wages to $12 an hour in Arizona, Colorado, and Maine, and to $13.50 in Washington. In South Dakota, by contrast, voters are being asked to approve a measure to create a lower minimum wage for workers under the age of 18. If passed, the “training wage” would be $7.50 an hour instead of the current $8.50.

There are many other measures to be decided, including bond issuances, tobacco-tax hikes, statewide bans on plastic bags, and pivotal Proposition 60 in California, which would require actors filming porn to wear condoms. The Tax Foundation has a helpful list of all the tax-related initiatives and referenda on statewide ballots today. Ballotpedia has much more about the broader set of policy issues being voted on today, including historical background and emerging trends.

John Hood is a syndicated columnist and the president of the John William Pope Foundation, a North Carolina–based grantmaker.

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