By Kaitlyn Schallhorn
Published November 06, 2018
From legalizing marijuana to increasing minimum wage, voters nationwide won’t just be deciding candidates in the 2018 midterm elections. A bevy of policy initiatives are slated to appear on ballots for the people to decide Tuesday.
Read on for a look at 12 measures up for a vote this year across the country.
Three states have measures pertaining to abortion on the ballot this year – and they are all geared toward restricting access or public funding to the procedure.
In Alabama, Amendment 2 would add to the state’s constitution an affirmation of support for “the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children.” It would also include a clarification that the state “does not protect the right to abortion or require the funding of an abortion using public funds.”
West Virginia’s Amendment 1 would also specify its state constitution does not “secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of an abortion.”
While these measures wouldn’t immediately impact state policy when it comes to abortion, it would solidify concrete language in the states’ constitutions should Roe v. Wade ever be overturned.
In Oregon, Measure 106 would prohibit the use of public funds for an abortion unless deemed “medically necessary” by a licensed doctor if passed.
Voters in four states will have the opportunity to decide whether marijuana – recreational or medicinal – should be legalized this year.
Missouri has three ballot initiatives for voters to choose from if they support legalizing medicinal marijuana. The differences between the measures are mostly in how much the marijuana would be taxed and what that money would go toward. Proposals include veterans’ services, drug treatment and medical research.
Voters in Utah, too, will consider a measure legalizing medical marijuana for those suffering from specific illnesses.
Oklahoma voters already approved legalizing medical marijuana earlier this year.
Tamar Todd, senior director with the Drug Policy Alliance, said the country has “reached a tipping point” when it comes to broad and bipartisan public support for marijuana legalization – particularly since people have “had time to see how it played out” in states that have legalized it, like Colorado and Washington.
And with Canada set to legalize marijuana nationwide before November, votes in the border states of Michigan and North Dakota could be especially interesting to watch, Todd said.
An initiative to repeal Oregon’s so-called sanctuary state status – which regulates just how much law enforcement can cooperate with federal immigration authorities – is on the November ballot as Measure 105.
Oregon has been a sanctuary state since 1987, making the law the oldest in the nation. It prohibits law enforcement agencies from using “agency monies, equipment or personnel for the purpose of detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is” that they are in “violation of federal immigration laws.”
The Trump administration has been particularly critical of sanctuary policies – whether at the city or state level.
Alabama voters will get to decide whether to allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed on public property, including schools, with Amendment 1.
If approved, state funds could not be used to erect these displays, but private money would be used.
Critics argue allowing the religious display would violate the separation of church and state. However, proponents said the Founding Fathers were able to express their Christian beliefs, and the amendment would be a reaffirmation of religious liberty.
Although slavery was technically abolished with the 13th Amendment more than 150 years ago, Colorado’s state constitution still includes a provision that technically permits a person to be sentenced to slavery or indentured servitude if convicted of a crime.
As of now, Section 26 of Article II of the state’s constitution states: “There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” Voters in November will have the opportunity to shorten the section by omitting the part beginning with “except” if Amendment A passes.
A similar initiative was defeated in 2016 due to apparent confusion over the wording of the measure.
Offshore oil and gas drilling and e-cigarette use might not seem like they have much in common, but the ban of both is the topic of a single Florida ballot measure this year. If passed, Amendment 9 would ban vaping in enclosed, indoor workplaces and offshore drilling for oil and gas in state waters.
Pushed by Republicans and some Democrats, an effort to repeal California’s controversial gas tax hike will be on the ballot in November. If passed, Proposition 6 would reverse California Gov. Jerry Brown’s 12-cent gas tax increase and transportation improvement fee that has resulted in a gallon of gasoline in the state costing about 80 cents higher than the national average.
Supporters of the tax, such as California Association of Highway Patrolmen Doug Villars, has said the money is needed to fix the state’s crumbling roads, bridges and other infrastructure. But critics have said it places even more financial burdens on motorists in the state.
If it’s passed, more than 1.5 million Florida residents convicted of felonies could see their voting rights restored as early as 2020 as long as they have served their time and paid any required restitution. Amendment 4 would not apply to murderers or sex offenders.
“This would move Florida out of being an outlier and more into the mainstream,” Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice's Democracy Program, told Fox News. “This follows the general trend we have seen in recent years.”
If passed, Proposition 12 in California would significantly impact farmers. It would ban the sale of eggs in the state that come from hens raised in small cages.
The proposal would require hens have at least one square foot of usable floor space by the end of 2019 and be completely cage-free by the end of 2021. They would also need to be provided nests, perches and scratching posts.
Cage-free eggs can also cost as much as two times the amount of regular eggs, stoking concerns among consumers.
The measure would also require farmers to give calves raised for veal 43 square feet of usable floor space; breeding pigs would require at least 24 square feet. It would ban the sale of any meat in California that does not meet these standards.
North Carolinians will get to decide whether the hunting and fishing should be rights guaranteed in the state’s constitution.
The measure wouldn’t actually change any current hunting regulations in the state. But it could ward off any future legal challenges to the hunting of specific animals or hunting methods.
A proposed measure in Massachusetts would restrict the number of patients assigned to registered nurses in the state. The number of patients allowed to be assigned would depend on the emergency room, anesthesia, maternity and pediatric care services in the facility if Question #1 passes.
Two states have ballot measures this year that would increase the minimum wage if passed: Arkansas and Missouri
Issue Five would raise the minimum wage from $8.50 per hour to $9.25 per hour by January 2019. Then it would increase to $10 per hour in January 2020 and $11 per hour in January 2021.
In Missouri, Proposition B would increase the minimum wage by 85 cents every year until 2023. Then, the minimum wage would be $12 per hour. If Proposition B passes, government employers would be exempt from the increase. Now, the minimum wage is $7.85.