How Gay Marriage, Marijuana & Other Initiatives Fared in Election
Same-sex marriage supporters celebrated across the country Tuesday night as Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington all passed referendums supporting legal unions for gay couples, while pot proponents cheered the momentous marijuana measures that passed. Voters in Colorado and Washington agreed to legalize recreational cannabis use, while Oregon rejected a similar measure. Massachusetts approved medical marijuana consumption and Montana voted to restrict a 2004 allowing the same thing. Arkansas failed to be one of the first states in the south to welcome prescription pot.
Health care was another hot topic in Tuesday’s election. Several states asked voters to weigh in on bills or amendments intended to reject the effects of the Affordable Care Act. Montana, Wyoming, and Alabama passed a bill giving their residents the right to choose whether they want health insurance and, if they do, which kind they will purchase. Florida tried the same thing but failed, and Missouri passed a ban on any health-insurance exchanges not created by a ballot initiative, veto referendum, or legislative act. The point of the bill is to prevent the Missouri governor from establishing a health-care exchange, which is basically any state-regulated health-insurance plan eligible for federal subsidies.
But health care, marijuana, and gay marriage were just a few of the issues addressed by the 176 questions posed to voters on ballots in 38 states. The Daily Beast takes a look at some of the noteworthy state measures that passed or failed Tuesday.
California Keeps the Death Penalty, Raises Taxes
While the California initiative to replace the death penalty with a maximum prison sentence of life without parole was defeated Tuesday night, voters approved the “Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act” Initiative, which, among other new rules, requires that all convicted sex traffickers register online as sex offenders and pay criminal fines to help victims, and increases prison terms for sex traffickers. The Sunshine State also passed a ballot initiative to raise taxes by $6 billion every year for the next seven years. Also defeated was a measure to make labeling genetically engineered food mandatory. One of the most significant measures on California's ballot that did pass, however, was a law requiring that all porn actors filming in Los Angeles wear condoms.
Florida’s Abortion and Religious Freedom Amendments Fail
Floridians voted down most of the ballot initiatives backed by the state’s majority Republican legislature. Among them were a constitutional amendment restricting abortion rights and a “Religious Freedom Amendment” that sought to end Florida’s ban on government funding for religious organizations and activities.
Voters did pass, however, an exemption on property taxes for the surviving spouses of military veterans and first responders killed on duty.
Louisiana Tightens Right to Bear Arms Amendment
Louisiana voters approved an amendment to strengthen their right to bear arms, which could potentially interfere with current state bans like one on carrying concealed weapons on university campuses as well as one on stun guns.
Maryland Passes the DREAM Act
President Obama may not have been able to get the DREAM Act through Congress, but when Maryland put the law granting undocumented college students in-state tuition on Tuesday’s ballot, voters came out overwhelmingly in favor, officially passing the law Wednesday morning.
Massachusetts Dismisses “Death With Dignity”
Massachusetts residents may have been ready to legalize medical marijuana, but narrowly rejected a measure allowing physician-assisted suicides for the terminally ill.
Michigan Unable to Pass “Protect Our Jobs” Amendment
Labor leaders in the Great Lakes State lost their battle to pass a collective bargaining initiative through Tuesday’s ballot.
Minnesota Kills Voter Identification Law
In a last-minute turn of events, an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution requiring voters to provide photo IDs at the polls was rejected.
Oklahoma Bans Affirmative Action
Seventy-six of Oklahoma’s 77 counties supported a constitutional ban on the use of affirmative action in education, contracting, and government hiring throughout the state.
Rhode Island Approves Veteran Home Bond
Thanks to voters, Rhode Island’s veterans will be getting a brand new care facility—paid for by $94 million in bonds.