Louis Jacobson is a GOVERNING contributor.E-mail: email@example.com
It was a big night for supporters of same-sex marriage and the decriminalization of marijuana -- just two of the highest profile measures on the 2012 ballot.
Here’s a rundown of results on selected ballot measures:
Same-sex marriage: Voters in Maine and Maryland backed measures to permit marriage equality, with 53 percent of the vote in Maine and 52 percent of the vote in Maryland. They became the first states to affirmatively approve same-sex marriage at the ballot box, joining others that had done so legislatively or judicially.
A third state weighing a same-sex marriage initiative, Washington state, had counted only about half its vote by early Wednesday morning, with 52 percent in support.
In another victory for supporters of same-sex marriage, Minnesota voters narrowly rejected a measure that would have banned the practice.
Marijuana: Supporters of decriminalizing marijuana had a big -- but not perfect -- night as well.
Two states appear to have voted to allow marijuana for recreational use -- not just for medical purposes. Colorado voted for such a measure with 53 percent support, and Washington state looks headed toward approval with 55 percent. One state rejected a similar measure: Oregon, where it garnered only 45 percent support.
New medical-marijuana measures were less successful. One passed overwhelmingly in Massachusetts (63 percent), but Montana voters are poised to curb an existing medical marijuana law (57 percent of the vote so far) and Arkansas medical marijuana supporters fell just short, winning 49 percent at the ballot box. Arkansas would have been the first state in the South to approve any law on marijuana.
Taxes: A key measure in California, Proposition 30, appears to have succeeded. Sponsored by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, the measure would increase the income tax on earnings over $250,000 for seven years and increase the sales tax by 0.25 percent for four years. With 83 percent of the vote counted, it was leading with 53 percent of the vote.
Immigration: Immigration advocates had a mixed night. Marylanders voted by a strong margin -- 59 percent to 41 percent -- to allow undocumented immigrants the same in-state tuition breaks as legal residents, commonly known as the DREAM Act.
But in Montana, voters are backing a measure to deny services to undocumented immigrants by a massive, 4-to-1 margin.
Labor unions: In a win for labor unions and their allies, California Proposition 32, which would have prohibited union dues from being used for political purposes without the explicit authorization of members, lost by a 10-point margin.
But Michigan voted down a measure that would have created a new constitutional right to collective bargaining, with just 42 percent support.
Abortion: Voters delivered a mixed message on abortion. They rejected a measure in Florida that would have barred public funds from being used to pay for abortions or for health benefits that include abortion coverage. The measure won only 45 percent of the vote.
But voters in Montana easily approved a measure to require parental notification before a minor could get an abortion. The measure won 70 percent of the vote.
Criminal justice: California voters faced three criminal-justice measures: A measure to end the death penalty was on its way to failing, winning just 47 percent of the vote; a measure to ease portions of the state’s “three strikes” sentencing law was winning better than two-thirds of the vote; and a measure to crack down on human trafficking was winning by more than a 4-to-1 margin.
Assisted suicide: In Massachusetts, a measure to allow assisted suicide was trailing narrowly. However, it is still too close to call as of Wednesday morning.
Affirmative action: Oklahoma voters, by a 3-to-2 margin, approved a measure to end racial preferences.
Education: In one of the bigger surprises of the night, voters in conservative Idaho and South Dakota pushed back efforts to curb the power of teachers’ unions.
In Idaho, voters appeared poised to defeat three measures backed by the GOP establishment that would have limited collective bargaining for teachers, instituted performance-based pay and modified school district funding.
By a wide margin, voters in South Dakota rejected a law that would have created a program for teacher merit bonuses, mandated a uniform teacher and principal evaluation system, and eliminated state requirements for teacher tenure.
Transportation: In Michigan, voters rejected, by a 3-to-2 margin, a proposal designed to hamper the building of a new $2.1 billion bridge over the Detroit River to Canada. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and other supporters of the new bridge prevailed against the existing bridge’s owners in the vote.
Electoral reform: Following a year in which voter-ID requirements became a polarizing political issue, the only state to take up a voter-ID ballot measure this year -- Minnesota -- rejected more stringent ID rules. The Minnesota measure failed, garnering only 46 percent of the vote.
Voters in Arizona rejected a proposed open-primary system by a resounding 2-to-1 margin.
In Ohio, voters rejected creation of a redistricting commission, which would have taken line-drawing out of the hands of state lawmakers.
By a 3-to-1 margin, California voters opted to keep the state Senate lines drawn by a redistricting commission rather than undoing them.
In Colorado, voters instructed the Colorado congressional delegation to propose and support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that allows Congress and the states to limit campaign contributions and spending. The measure won by a 3-to-1 margin.
And by a 10-point margin, South Carolina voters approved a measure to start electing their governor and lieutenant governor jointly.
Budget reform California voters rejected a potentially far-reaching budget process reform, providing less than 40 percent support. It would have established a two-year state budget cycle; prohibited the Legislature from creating expenditures of more than $25 million unless offsetting revenues or spending cuts are identified; permitted the governor to cut the budget unilaterally during declared fiscal emergencies if the Legislature failed to act; required performance reviews of all state programs and performance goals in state and local budgets; and required publication of all bills at least three days prior to legislative vote.
Genetically modified food: A California measure that would have imposed labeling requirements for genetically modified food appeared headed for defeat, despite a lead in early opinion polls. After a barrage of advertising from opponents, the measure was garnering only 47 percent support with 86 percent of the vote counted.
Corporate rights: In an unusual ballot measure, Montana voters are on their way to giving broad approval to a measure that charges Montana elected and appointed officials, state and federal, with "implementing a policy that corporations are not human beings with constitutional rights.” The measure was securing 3-to-1 support.
Emergency-manager law: Michigan voters rejected GOP Gov. Rick Snyder's emergency manager law for troubled localities. A measure to endorse the existing law won only 48 percent support.
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