North Carolina voters won’t decide any statewide ballot referendums or initiatives in November.
In most other states, residents will vote on issues such as legalizing recreational or medical marijuana, raising the minimum wage, increasing cigarette taxes and prohibiting large-capacity ammunition magazines.
North Carolina is boring this year in that regard (but not in other ballot items, such as the presidential and gubernatorial races).
The Tar Heel state, unlike many others, doesn’t allow citizen-driven initiatives on the ballot. Many ballot questions you’ll read about below ended up before voters through a process started by residents, not necessarily because the state legislature decided they should be there.
The N.C. General Assembly considered a few referendums this year, including enshrining in the N.C. Constitution the right to hunt and fish, as well as a limit on spending growth. None of the ideas made it through the legislative process.
The following information comes from a database from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Voters in Arizona will decide whether to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older and tax sales at 15 percent. They’ll also vote on whether to raise the minimum wage to $10 in 2017, then to $12 by 2020. The current minimum wage there is $8.05. (North Carolina’s is $7.25.) Voters also are expected to decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada. Proposed minimum wage hikes also are on ballots in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington.
Arkansas voters are expected to decide whether to allow the opening of medical marijuana centers to treat patients with certain conditions. Voters in Florida and North Dakota also will consider medical marijuana initiatives. The N.C. legislature held a public hearing on the medical marijuana issue in early 2015, but lawmakers quickly killed a proposal to legalize it.
In California, an initiative called the “Legislative Transparency Act” would prohibit the state legislature from passing any bill unless it’s been in print and published online for at least 72 hours before the vote, except in cases of public emergency. (Anyone else just think of House Bill 2?)
Also in California, the “Safety For All Act” would prohibit possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and require most individuals to pass background checks and obtain Department of Justice authorization to buy ammo. California voters also will decide whether to increase cigarette taxes by $2 a pack, with revenues paying mainly for anti-smoking programs. Voters in Colorado and Missouri will also decide whether to increase tobacco taxes.
A Colorado initiative would permit mentally capable adults who are terminally ill to receive prescriptions from doctors for medication to end their lives. N.C. Democrats filed a similar bill in 2015, called the “Death with Dignity Act.” It didn’t go anywhere.
Voters in Indiana and Kansas will consider right to hunt and fish amendments.
In Louisiana, a referendum would authorize a property tax exemption for surviving spouses of individuals killed in the line of duty as members of the armed forces, law enforcement officers or fire fighters. Virginia voters will consider a similar referendum.
In Massachusetts, voters will decide whether to phase out extreme methods of farm animal confinement.
In Nebraska, a referendum will determine whether to repeal a 2015 bill that eliminated the death penalty there.
In Oklahoma, an initiative would increase sales taxes by 1 percent for an education fund to increase teacher salaries, address teacher shortages, improve reading in early grades and increase access to early learning for low-income children.
In Oregon, voters will decide whether programs to help veterans should be the beneficiaries of 1.5 percent of the proceeds of the state lottery.
South Dakota voters will decide whether a redistricting commission, rather than the legislature, should draw districts for state Senate and House seats. That’s a big topic here, too.
In Washington, a ballot initiative would allow police or family members to get court orders to prevent access to guns by people exhibiting mental illness or violent behavior indicating they might harm themselves or others.
Oh, what could have been in North Carolina.
Patrick Gannon is the columnist for the Capitol Press Association. Reach him at [email protected]