Monday, November 1, 2010

Major State Ballot Measures Voters Will Decide on Nov 2 – Part 2, Social Legislation


Healthcare Mandates, Education, Personhood Definition, Legal Marijuana, and Union Secret Voting
Photo Credit - Flickr Creative

Social issues have taken a back seat to fiscal issues recently. According to ballotpedia.org, “The 2010 ballot includes fewer social issues (such as abortion, marriage, immigration, gambling) than has been the case in recent years, although one of the most widely-remarked measures on the ballot, California’s Proposition 19, is a classic in the genre.”

The discussion in 2010 has centered on the economy, jobs, and deficit spending. It’s rare to hear a discussion on future deficit without the new healthcare reform being a part of the mix, especially since the touted “saving” are now accepted by some Democrats as unrealistic. The most contentious part of the bill is the mandate that every citizen must purchase health insurance, and 21 states have filed lawsuits against the federal government related to the reform.

It’s not surprising 4 states have ballot measures relating to the new bill – AZ, CO, MO, and OK. Arizona’s Proposition 106 would prohibit rules against specific health care participation. Amendment 63 in CO is meant to protect the individual’s right to make health care decisions for one self. Proposition C already passed on August 3 in MO is to the point – it blocks a government mandate to buy health insurance. And, OK’s Question 756 is blunt proposing to allow residents to opt out of any federal healthcare mandates.

With the release of the education reform message documentary “Waiting for Superman”, education has jumped to the front of hot topics in the last month or so. There are 7 states with ballot measures relating to the “Education” category – AL, FL, HI, ID, OK, OR, and RI.

The usual top areas in the social categories are rather quiet in 2010 ballot measures. Arizona has an “Affirmative Action” measure with Proposition 107 which would ban preferential acceptance in employment. Oklahoma has an ”English” measure with Question 751 which specifies English is the “common and unifying language of Oklahoma”. Oklahoma is the only state with an election measure also considered an “Immigration” measure with Question 746 which proposes voters must provide proof of photo identity to vote.

Even though the definition of marriage was a hot debate in recent elections, there are no ballot measures this time in the “Marriage” category. The “Abortion” category is represented by 2 ballot measures. Measure 2 in AK already passed on August 24 mandates a doctor may not perform the abortion procedure on a minor without informing at least one parent. Measure further mandates that the legal penalties on the doctor for conducting minor abortions without parental consent will be enforced.

One of the ballot measures with the most impact potential is CO’s “Fetal Personhood” Amendment 62 which proposes defining the term “person” to every human being from the beginning of the biological development. The officially-approved ballot title says:

“An amendment to the Colorado Constitution applying the term 'person' as used in those provisions of the Colorado Constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice and due process of law, to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.”

In line with a growing discussion trend, 4 states have ballot measures under the “Marijuana” type. Marijuana legalization for medicinal purpose is proposed in AZ, OR, and SD. California’s Proposition 19, the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, is the most sweeping and would take effect the day after the election. It would “legalize various marijuana-related activities, allow local governments to regulate these activities, permit local governments to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and authorize various criminal and civil penalties.” In addition, 11 CA cities have local November 2 ballot measures allowing them to tax recreational marijuana should Prop 19 pass as a statewide ballot measure.

There are a few ballot measures that fall in the meaningful miscellaneous type category. They seem to be taking some aim at UN or foreign law consideration and at Card Check in the federal level discussions by the White House and Democrats. In OK under the “Judicial Reform” category, Question 755 proproses federal and state laws be used to decide cases by courts and forbids courts from considering international law. Four states have ballot measures under the “Labor” category that propose vote by secret ballot for union elections – AZ, CO, MO, and OK.

And just for fun, maybe this observation will make you smile like it did me. There are only 2 measures on the Kansas ballot – Question 1 would allow citizens to bear arms in the state, and Question 2 would eliminate mental illness as a voting disqualification. Ok, maybe it was just me.

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