On Tuesday, during the 2023 elections, residents in five states will vote on various ballot measures. These measures cover topics such as abortion, the legalization of marijuana, and the elimination of wealth taxes.
The proposed laws that are expected to receive the most focus are located in Ohio, Texas, and Maine. These are the ones to keep an eye on.
Ohio Ballot Measure 1: Availability of Abortion Services
Voting “yes” would change the state constitution, while voting “no” would maintain the current situation.
In 2019, a bill was passed and signed into law that prohibits abortions after embryonic cardiac activity is detected. This typically occurs around six weeks into a pregnancy and does not make exceptions for cases of rape or incest. However, the implementation of this law has been paused by state courts pending ongoing legal proceedings.
Ohio is one of many states that have placed abortion safeguards on the voting ballot following the decision made by the Supreme Court.
The ruling in Roe v. Wade reversed the federal protection of the right to abortion..
If the measure garners a majority of votes, it will be enacted 30 days after the election.
A proposal that aimed to remove abortion safeguards from the constitution of the state was not passed.
Proposed Legislation in Ohio: Legalizing Marijuana
On Tuesday, residents of Ohio will have the opportunity to vote on the legalization of recreational marijuana. This measure is listed as Issue 2 on the ballot.
If this is approved, the proposed legislation would permit adults over the age of 21 to legally buy and sell marijuana for personal or recreational purposes. These individuals would be allowed to purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at a time, and a 10% tax would be imposed on all sales. Additionally, the law would permit Ohio residents to grow and maintain up to six cannabis plants.
Voting against the proposal would result in the state maintaining its ban on marijuana.
A simple majority vote will approve the measure, and it will take effect 30 days after the election.
The Colorado Proposition II proposes implementing higher taxes on nicotine for the purpose of funding preschool programs.
Proposition II in Colorado proposes that any additional revenue from tax hikes on tobacco, cigarettes, and nicotine will be kept by the state and used for preschool education. If the measure is not passed, the excess funds must be returned to wholesalers and distributors.
Question 2 in Maine: Broadening the restriction on overseas funding in electoral processes.
Restrictions on foreign contributions are currently in place for federal, state, and local elections. However, a proposed initiative in Maine aims to broaden this prohibition.
This proposal would prevent foreign governments and companies that are at least 5% owned or controlled by foreign governments from using money to influence candidates or voting initiatives.
The federal government does not forbid foreign citizens from contributing to ballot initiatives.
The ruling also requires TV, radio, print, and online news outlets to implement protocols to avoid disseminating communications that have been funded unlawfully by foreign government-influenced entities.
Breaking the rule could result in a penalty of either a $5,000 fine or double the contribution amount, whichever is higher.
Question 8 in Maine: Eliminating the restriction on voting for individuals with mental illness.
A proposed Maine ballot initiative aims to eliminate a constitutional rule that has already been declared unconstitutional by a federal court. This rule prohibits individuals with mental illness who have been placed under guardianship from voting.
In 2001, a federal court ruled that Maine’s state law violated the due process and equal protection guarantees of the Constitution. Although amendments to allow voting for individuals under guardianships for mental illness have been proposed in Maine previously, the last time was in 2000. Furthermore, the public’s perception and attitudes towards mental illness have changed greatly in the past 23 years.
Proposition 3 in Texas: Prohibiting the imposition of taxes on wealth.
The proposed law in Texas aims to change the state’s constitution and prevent the Texas Legislature from implementing a tax on an individual’s assets or total worth in the future. This type of tax is not expected to happen anytime soon, given that Republicans currently hold majority in the Legislature and the governor’s office.
The proposed ballot measure is titled “Prohibition of Individual Wealth or Net Worth Tax,” and it seeks to prevent the implementation of taxes on an individual’s or family’s assets minus liabilities.
Texas Proposition 4: Raising the homestead tax exemption
A proposed Texas ballot initiative aims to modify the state’s constitution in order to raise the homestead tax exemption for homeowners from $40,000 to $100,000 for their main place of residence.
At this time, individuals who own homes can subtract $40,000 from the estimated value of their home when determining their state tax liability. This proposal would raise that amount to $100,000, taking into consideration the significant rise in home prices in Texas over the past few years.
The proposal would also grant the Legislature the power to restrict the yearly valuation hike on properties that are not primary residences.
Proposition 12 in Texas aims to remove the position of Galveston County treasurer.
Proposition 12, a unique ballot measure, poses the question to all Texas voters whether they are in favor of amending the state constitution to eliminate the role of Galveston County treasurer.
The individual behind this proposal is actually Hank Dugie, the treasurer for Galveston County. He is advocating for a constitutional amendment to abolish his own position, which he was elected into with the promise of eliminating it. Dugie believes that his role is unnecessary and that other departments can take on his responsibilities without any issue. He also believes that the taxpayers should not have to cover his salary of $117,260.
On his website, Dugie notes that Texas has previously voted to eliminate the position of county treasurer. If Prop. 12 is successful, Galveston will become the 10th county in the state to do so.
The revision would allow the county to designate another individual or a different county official to carry out the responsibilities of treasurer.