The Five Big Policy Changes That Might Happen After The Election

Beyond the federal, state, and local candidates on the ballot tomorrow, voters will consider 174 state ballot questions. While these touch on a wide array of subjects, here are five of the most significant areas of potential policy change:

1. In-state tuition for eligible undocumented immigrants in Maryland. Maryland voters will vote on Question 4, deciding whether a state DREAM Act, passed by the legislature, should go into law. If voters approve the question, eligible undocumented immigrants would be able to to pay in-state tuition at state universities. On the other hand, Montanans will vote on LR-121, a proposal to deny state services to undocumented immigrants — including state permits, licenses, and services for crime victims.

2. Marriage equality could be enacted in Maine, Maryland, and Washington. Voters in Maryland (Question 6), Maine (Question 1), and Washington (Referendum 74) will vote on whether to enact marriage equality for same-sex couples. In Maryland and Washington, the voters would be endorsing bills enacted by the state legislature, while Maine voters will consider the first effort to proactively pass marriage equality by initiative petition. Minnesotans, however, will consider a proposed marriage inequality amendment (Amendment 1). Under state law, opponents of equality will need a majority of all voters who show up — even if they don’t vote on Amendment 1 — to amend the state constitution.

3. Marijuana could be legalized in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. Colorado’s Amendment 64 and Washington’s Initiative 502 would legalize and regulate sales of small quantities of marijuana to residents 21 years and older. Oregon will consider a less-restrictive Measure 80. Additionally, Arkansas (Issue 5) and Massachusetts (Question 3) will both consider proposals to allow medical marijuana and Montana (Initiative Referendum 124) will vote on whether to allow the state legislature to substitute its own medical marijuana law for one enacted by voters in 2004.

4. Unions in California could lose their power to engage in political activity. California’s Proposition 32 would prevent labor unions from collecting money from their membership to pay for political activities, while doing nothing about corporations which, thanks to Citizens United, can spend as much of their corporate treasury funds on electioneering as they wish. This misleading proposal — dressed up as a campaign finance reform effort — is being pushed by a wealthy Republican activist and the Koch-linked America’s Future Fund. On the other hand, Michigan’s Proposition 12-2 would amend the state’s constitution to protect collective bargaining rights.

5. Extreme anti-tax rules could be enacted in Florida, Michigan, and Washington. Florida voters will decide whether to accept Amendment 3, a so-called “Taxpayer Bill of Rights,” which limits public spending and revenue collection through a harmful proscribed formula. Both Michigan (Proposal 12-5) and Washington (Initiative 1185) will vote on proposals to require a two-thirds legislative supermajority in order to end tax breaks or increase tax rates. Additionally, Oregon voters will decide on Measure 84, which would gradually repeals the estate tax and will cause a $120 million loss in revenue for the state every year.
These ballot initiatives have a huge potential to shape policy — and possibly the direction the nation will go on those topics.

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