This is what I wrote for the Progress Report -- if you haven't signed up to receive this daily email newsletter, do so!
Running under the media radar, ballot measures "allow voters to directly decide whether to change state laws or amend state constitutions." Many are practical fiscal measures, while others deal with hot-button social issues. Ballot initiatives "shape the political conversation and suggest to voters what their policy priorities should be." "There isn't one big 'wedge' issue, but voters in a handful of states will consider bans on gay marriage, abortion, and affirmative action." Voters in a few states are considering measures to put their economies on a path toward green recovery, moving off of fossil fuels and onto clean energy. Progressive ballot proposals to allow states to support children's education and health are a model of efforts to bring voters together in building better government, instead of furthering cultural divides.
GREEN ECONOMY: "Three states -- California, Colorado and Missouri -- have measures on their ballots that deal with alternative energy sources, including wind and solar power," reports USA Today.
- The Missouri ballot initiative, Proposition C, would add Missouri to the 24 other states with renewable energy standards. YES ON MISSOURI PROP C.
- Colorado Amendment 58 "would eliminate a severance tax credit for oil and gas companies" and use the funds to support education, wildlife, renewable energy, and other green investments. Both are broadly supported by environmental and progressive organizations. YES ON COLORADO PROP 58.
- California's Proposition 1A to have the state borrow $9.95 billion to construct a "high-speed train network that would make it possible to get from downtown San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2 1/2 hours" is supported by a coalition of businesses, environmental groups, labor, and California's top officials. YES ON CALIFORNIA PROP 1A.
- In contrast, California's Proposition 7, which would increase California's renewable energy standard, is opposed by "wind, solar and other renewable power providers, environmental organizations, consumer and taxpayer groups, small business and labor, and climate change scientists" because of "a suitcase full of devils in the details." NO ON CALIFORNIA PROP 7.
- California's Proposition 10 is another flawed "clean-energy" initiative that would "require the state to borrow $5 billion" to support natural-gas vehicles. It's a boondoggle for T. Boone Pickens, whose natural gas company in California has put up millions as his Pickens Plan coincidentally calls for a wild increase in natural-gas vehicles. NO ON CALIFORNIA PROP 10.
The Center for American Progress Action Fund has put together a voter guide to the initiatives in California here
RIGHT-WING SOCIAL PRIORITIES: Ballot initiatives advanced by conservative activists have enjoyed success in recent years. Seventeen ballot measures opposing marriage equality for same-sex couples have succeeded since 2004. 2008 sees new anti-equality measures in:
All three initiatives would amend the state constitutions
to ban same-sex marriage, even though it is already illegal in Arizona and Florida. In addition, Florida's amendment "could eliminate legal domestic partnership benefits
and legal protections for heterosexual couples."
- After they pushed through a ban on gay marriage in Arkansas, conservatives are now gunning for a ban on gay adoption in that state. NO ON ARKANSAS PIA 1.
- South Dakota will consider a measure to ban abortion "except in cases of rape, incest or threats to a woman's health." If approved, "the proposal would give the state one of the strictest bans in the country" and is explicitly designed as a test case against Roe v. Wade. NO ON S. DAKOTA MEASURE 11.
- A radical proposal on the ballot in Colorado goes even further, giving "a single-celled, newly fertilized human egg...the same rights and protections as a fully developed, living, breathing human being." NO ON COLORADO 48.
"Abortion opponents' unabashed goal is to ban abortion throughout the country
," writes the Center for American Progress Action Fund's Jessica Arons. "Their initiatives at the state level are just one part of that plan."
Voters in Nebraska and Colorado will also consider proposed bans on affirmative action and a set of anti-union measures with deceitful language.
PROGRESSIVE BALLOT MEASURES: Several states have progressive ballot questions supporting education, economic justice, and economic growth.
- Ohioans have a chance to ban predatory lending with Issue 5. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and other religious conservatives are supporting the payday lending industry's multimillion-dollar campaign to kill the effort. YES ON OHIO ISSUE 5.
- Michigan voters will consider a proposal to support its biotech industry with limited stem cell research, allowing "stem cell lines to be drawn only from frozen embryos that would otherwise be discarded, and whose donors agreed the embryos could be used for that purpose." However, the Detroit News notes that "opponents of the measure have spent a great deal of money to confuse the issue, and when voters are confused about what a ballot measure will do they tend to vote no." YES ON MICHIGAN PROP 2.
- Colorado's Amendment 59 would create a responsibly designed fund for education, and is opposed only by hard-right anti-government groups like the National Taxpayers Union. YES ON COLORADO 59.
- Montana's Initiative 155 will "provide comprehensive health coverage to the 30,000 uninsured Montana children who live in families that make up to about $50,000 per year," and is supported by a broad coalition including insurers, hospitals, children's groups, and Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D). YES ON MONTANA I-155.