Voters in five states are taking up ballot measures in the 2023 elections on Tuesday, weighing in on issues including abortion, legalizing marijuana and abolishing the wealth tax.
The ballot measures likely to attract the most attention are in Ohio, Texas and Maine. Here are the ones to watch.
Ohio Number 1: Access to abortion
Ohioans will vote on whether to amend the Ohio Constitution to enshrine the right to abortion into state law, which appears on the ballot as follows:. A “yes” vote would amend the state Constitution, while a “no” vote would reject the amendment and maintain the status quo.
In Ohio, abortion is legal up to 22 weeks, although Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine,was enacted in 2019, banning abortions once embryonic cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. The new law has been blocked by state courts as litigation continues.
Ohio is one of several states that put abortion protection on the ballot after the Supreme Court..
If the measure receives a simple majority of votes, it will take effect 30 days after the election.
Last year,a ballot measure that would have eliminated abortion protections from the state Constitution.
Ohio number 2: legalization of marijuana
Ohioans will also vote Tuesday on whether to legalize recreational marijuana use — it’s on the ballot as No. 2.
If passed, the new law would allow the sale and purchase of marijuana for personal or recreational use by adults 21 and older. Eligible adults could purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at a time, and sales would be taxed at 10 percent. The measure would also allow Ohio residents to keep up to six cannabis plants.
A vote against the measure would mean marijuana remains illegal in the state.
Question 2 only needs a majority of votes to pass, and if so, it would take effect 30 days after the election.
Colorado Proposition II: Excessive Nicotine Taxes on Preschools
A Colorado ballot measure, Proposition II, would allow the state to retain all revenue above official projections from tax increases on tobacco, cigarettes and nicotine, and require Colorado officials to dedicate those funds to preschool education. If the measure is not approved, the state will have to return excess revenue to wholesalers and distributors.
Maine Question 2: Extension of ban on foreign spending in elections
Foreign spending is already banned in federal, state and local elections, but a Maine initiative would expand that ban.
The ballot measure would prohibit foreign governments as well as entities with at least a 5% ownership or control of a foreign government from spending money to influence candidates or ballot measures.
Federal law does not prohibit foreign nationals from making donations related to ballot measures.
The measure also directs television, radio, print and online organizations to establish policies to prevent the publication of communications in which entities influenced by foreign governments have illegally spent money.
If it becomes law, violating the ban would be a felony punishable by a fine of $5,000 or twice the amount of the contribution, whichever is greater.
Maine Question 8: Removing the voting ban for certain people with mental illness
Another Maine ballot measure would remove a constitutional provision that a federal court has already ruled unconstitutional, a state provision barring people placed under conservatorship due to mental illness from voting.
In 2001, a federal court found that Maine’s constitutional provision violated the Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses. Amendments to make voting accessible to people under conservatorship for mental illness have been passed in Maine before, but not since 2000. And the public’s understanding and perspective on mental illness has changed significantly over the past 23 years.
Texas Proposition 3: Ban wealth taxes
This Texas measure supports amending the state Constitution to prohibit the Texas Legislature from enacting a tax on a person’s wealth or net worth in the future. Such a tax is highly unlikely in the near future, since Republicans control both houses of the Legislature, as well as the governor’s mansion.
“The constitutional amendment prohibits the imposition of a tax on the wealth or net worth of individuals, including a tax on the difference between the assets and liabilities of an individual or family,” reads the title of the ballot measure.
Texas Proposition 4: Increase the real estate tax exemption
Another Texas ballot measure would amend the state constitution to increase the property tax exemption for homeowners from $40,000 to $100,000 for their primary residence.
Currently, homeowners can deduct $40,000 from the home’s appraised value to calculate the homeowner’s state tax burden. The measure would increase that figure to $100,000, in light of soaring Texas real estate prices in recent years.
The measure would also allow lawmakers to limit the annual increase in nonresidential property assessments.
Texas Proposition 12: Eliminate Galveston County Treasurer
One of the more unusual statewide ballot measures is Proposition 12, which asks all Texas voters whether they support an amendment to the state Constitution to abolish the office of Treasurer of Galveston County.
In fact, it’s Galveston County Treasurer himself, Hank Dugie, who is pushing this measure, meaning he’s seeking a constitutional amendment to eliminate his own job. Dugie campaigned for the job – and won – by getting rid of the position. He argues that his position is redundant, that other departments can easily take over the treasurer’s duties and that taxpayers should not have to pay his $117,260 salary.
Dugie points out on his website that this isn’t the first time Texas has voted to abolish the county treasurer position — if Proposition 12 succeeds, Galveston will be the 10th county in the state to get rid of its treasurer.
The amendment would allow the county to choose someone else or another county official to serve as treasurer.