July | August 2017


 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Election Day Ballot Measures Among States

By Carl Sims, CSG policy intern
Elections in odd-numbered years typically garner less voter and media attention than nationally driven election cycles. However, these “off years” present an opportunity to bring greater focus to the current national mood and the voter issues that could be bellwethers of change for future elections. The Nov. 7 Election Day had major congressional, gubernatorial and mayoral elections, however, nine states also presented ballot measures for voter consideration with issues ranging from bond issuances and tax reform to health care.
According to Ballotpedia, odd-numbered year ballot measures have declined over the years, with 2017 being categorized as the lowest total since 1947. Even-numbered election years generally see more ballot-measure activity but those numbers are experiencing a decades-long declining trend as well. Still, 22 state ballot measures were up for consideration by voters on Nov. 7, originating from legislatively referred constitutional amendments and bond questions, automatic ballot referrals, and citizen-sponsored initiatives. Of the ballot measures considered this Election Day, four were citizen-driven initiatives and two of those involved health care.
One of these voter initiatives, Maine’s Question 2 proposed the expansion of Medicaid. The measure sought to expand health care coverage to adults under the age of 65 who are at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. About 70 percent of voters answered in the affirmative, making Maine the 32nd state to implement an expansion. The Maine voter initiative provides a potentially trendsetting case for the 18 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act as it became the first state to do so by ballot measure. Since 2013, the state legislature has passed bills five times authorizing the expansion, only to have each vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage. The governor recently said he would only implement the voter referendum if the state legislature provides funding for the measure.
Voters in Ohio considered Issue 2, a measure that would require state agencies to not pay more for prescription drugs than the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. The Department of Veteran Affairs receives mandatory discounts and negotiates drug prices. A similar proposition (Proposition 61) was introduced to California voters in 2016. The Ohio ballot measure was defeated by voters with about 79 percent siding against it. Issue 2 had more financial investment than any other ballot measure in 2017, and it was the highest grossing of any Ohio ballot measure in history, with $16.7 million being contributed in support and $58.2 million being donated in opposition.
The remaining ballot measures that appeared on Election Day ballots are summarized in the chart below.
 

State

Ballot Measure

Summary

Outcome

MAINE

Question 1

An Act to Allow Slot Machines or a Casino in York Co.

Fail

Question 2

An Act to Enhance Access to Affordable Health Care

Pass

Question 3

An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Improve Highways, Bridges, and Multimodal Facilities and Upgrade Municipal Culverts

Pass

Question 4

Proposed Constitutional Amendment to Reduce Volatility in State Pension Funding Requirements Caused by the Financial Markets

Pass

NEW JERSEY

Question 1

New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act

Pass

Question 2

Constitutional Amendment Dedicating Moneys from State Environmental Contamination Cases

Pass

NEW YORK

Proposal 1

To determine whether a Constitutional Convention will be held in 2019

Fail

Proposal 2

To allow the complete or partial forfeiture of a public officer’s pension if he or she is convicted of a certain type of felony

Pass

Proposal 3

To Authorize the Use of Forest Preserve Land for Specific Purposes

Pass

OHIO

Issue 1

Rights for Crime Victims

Pass

Issue 2

To require state agencies to not pay more for prescription drugs than the federal Department of Veterans Affairs

Fail

PENNSYLVANIA

Ballot Question

Proposed Constitutional Amendment Amending the Homestead property tax assessment exclusion

Pass

TEXAS

Proposition 1

Broadens scope of homestead ad valorem tax exemption for disabled veteran or spouse

Pass

Proposition 2

Prescribes conditions, fees, refinancing options, and eligibility for home equity loans

Pass

Proposition 3

Limits the service of certain gubernatorial appointees after term expirations

Pass

Proposition 4

Relates to notice requirements to the Attorney General regarding challenges to constitutionality

Pass

Proposition 5

Permits additional professional sports team charitable foundations to conduct raffles

Pass

Proposition 6

Provides homestead exemption for deceased first responder’s surviving spouse

Pass

Proposition 7

Permits financial institutions to award random prizes to customers to encourage saving

Pass

WASHINGTON*

Advisory Vote 16

HB 1597 - Increase revenue to the state wildlife account by increasing commercial fishing license fees

Fail

Advisory Vote 17

HB 2163 -  Changes the Sales and Use tax and Business and Occupation tax

Fail

Advisory Vote 18

HB 2242 - Increase the state property tax

Fail


*Washington’s Advisory Votes do not change or establish law, only advise the legislature to repeal or maintain the law