The 10 most interesting ballot initiative battles to watch on Tuesday

Jennifer White Contributor
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Voting for president, congressman, senator, governor, county councilman, alderman, sheriff and dogcatcher apparently isn’t enough to think about Tuesday. Voters in dozens of states will also be faced with ballot initiative and amendment questions running the gamut from guns to gay marriage, from “Frankenfoods” to photo IDs.

Sure, four states have initiatives teed up to counter Obamacare, but aren’t you a bit tired of hearing about the president’s health care law by now? There are ten other ballot measures worth watching, and these wont bore you to tears.

#10: Perhaps the most unusual measure is The Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act, on the ballot as Measure B in Los Angeles County, California. Voters will decide whether actors in pornographic movies made in Southern California should have to wear condoms and practice safe sex while the cameras roll. Measure B is a response to the outbreak of sexually transmitted diseases among California’s adult film “actors” and “actresses.”

#9: North Dakota produces a lot of cattle, and those folks aren’t messing around. Measure 3 would forever enshrine farmers and ranchers as a protected class by adding a whole new section to the state constitution. “The right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state,” it would read. “No law shall be enacted which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices.” Take that, PETA.

#8: Minnesota voters will decide whether to require every voter to show a photo ID at the polls. Democrats have claimed similar requirements in other states were efforts to depress turnout among minority and low-income voters. Some even say voter ID laws  can prevent elderly voters from going to the polls if they no longer have driver’s licenses. But conservatives counter that the best way to make sure no one cheats on Election Day is to require IDs at check-in. If you have to show photo ID to get on an airplane or rent a car, they say, voting should be even more secure.

#7: A proposal in Missouri would more than quintuple the state’s cigarette tax to 90 cents per pack, up from a lowest-in-the-nation 17 cents. New York leads the field with a whopping $4.35 tax for every pack of smokes. And that’s on top of a $1.01 federal tax. If you’re lighting up in New York City, there’s also a cigarette tax levied by the city — another $1.50 — adding up to $6.86 in taxes per pack for smokers in the Big Apple. That’s 34 cents to the government for every cigarette.

#6: Proposition 37 in California would require food marketers to label genetically modified foods. It would set up a lawsuit-based enforcement mechanism like the “Proposition 65” toxics right-to-know law already employs, even though there’s no evidence so-called “frankenfoods” are actually unsafe to eat. (You probably ate some today.) While the measure is ahead in the polls, some fear it would raise grocery bills and create deceptive labeling schemes.

#5: In Louisiana, voters will decide whether to add the right to acquire, transport, carry, transfer, and use firearms to the constitutional right to bear arms. If approved, Louisiana ‘s current gun restrictions could be scrapped in favor of a policy that forces state and local governments to have a specific and compelling reason to limit gun rights. Universities and bars would be able to have gun-free zones, but the burden would be on the anti-Second Amendment side of the argument to prove why new firearms restrictions are necessary.

#4: There are several ballot questions about marijuana on statewide ballots this year, with Colorado’s Amendment 64 being perhaps the most significant. It would amend the Colorado Constitution to license and regulate growing and selling pot. it would make it legal for anyone over 21 to have an ounce of finished weed for their personal use — and six marijuana plants, with some restrictions. The state would get to tax Mary Jane, however, with the first $40 million every year going to a school construction fund. Also, the legislature would be required to pass legislation concerning the growth, processing, and sale of industrial hemp.

#3: Four states have measures on the ballot specifically about protecting citizens’ right to go hunting and fishing. This is largely a preemptive strike against the mega-rich Humane Society of the United States, whose president has said in the past that he would ban all sport hunting if he could. All four measures — in Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska and Wyoming — would amend state constitutions, making it harder for animal rights groups to have their way later on.

#2: Gay marriage history could be made in a few states Tuesday. Maine is asking voters a straight-up question: Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples? Minnesotans will be faced with a constitutional amendment establishing one-man, one-woman couples as the only legal definition of marriage. And Maryland’s question is unusual: Will voters accept a “civil marriage” recognition for gays and lesbians if churches can’t be forced to perform the ceremonies?

#1: Nine U.S. states don’t have personal income taxes, but only New Hampshire has “Live Free or Die” as its state motto. The Granite State will have a ballot measure Tuesday that would make its no-income-tax policy a permanent thing. The magic language reads, “No new tax shall be levied, directly or indirectly, upon a person’s income, from whatever source it is derived.”

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