- Four states have ballot questions related to abortion and contraceptives
- Marijuana will have to be legalized this year for voters to decide in at least five states
- There is also a referendum in five states to outlaw slavery and indentured slavery.
Forget waiting for the Congress or the state legislatures to act. This year’s midterm elections are providing voters with an opportunity to directly shape public policy in the form of various state ballot initiatives tackling key national issues.
The country saw the power of those referendums when voters in Kansas, generally considered a safe red state, rejected the anti-abortion measure on the ballot by a decisive 59%-41% margin.
As elections fall, voters in 2022 are being asked to focus on what their states need to terminate pregnancy, the right to contraceptives, legalize certain drugs, and expand health care coverage. How to do Slavery is also on the ballot.
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In at least five states, voters will have to grapple with whether to officially eliminate slavery, a question that could Leading to a national rethink on US prison policy.
Many of those themes have stalled in Washington, where gridlock has swallowed up many reform efforts.
But whether through direct voting initiatives taken by the state legislature for the first time through petitions or indirect referendums by grassroots organizations, these measures could have major implications ahead.
Here are the issues on the ballot to watch:
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Kansas voters voted overwhelmingly to uphold abortion rights in August, which has encouraged progressives hoping for momentum. You can mobilize your base elsewhere through similar ballot initiatives.
At least three other states — California, Kentucky and Vermont — will have similar questions for voters to consider. While another, Montana, is asking voters to set rules about a “born-alive” baby from a failed abortion.
Similar question may come before voters Michigan, where A coalition of reproductive rights groups this month asked the state’s Supreme Court to allow their proposed measure that would guarantee abortion rights on the ballot this fall.
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Proposed amendments in California and Vermont, which already have liberal state laws that ensure the right to abortion, cover reproductive freedom as a whole, including other protections such as guarantees of access to contraceptives.
Voters in the more conservative-leaning state Kentucky are being asked this November by announcing restrictions on abortion rights The state constitution does not recognize such access or taxpayer required Abortion funding.
Montana’s referendum is concerned with whether babies born alive at any stage of development would be considered “legal persons.” If so, the proposal says, they should be provided with medical care. facing violators $50,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison.
Voters in Alabama, Louisiana, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont will decide whether to eliminate Slavery as part of a larger criminal justice reform movement aimed at prison labor.
The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary slavery when it was ratified in 1865. But a loophole allows it as a punishment for a person convicted of a crime and about 20 states have a similar exception.
Most of the referendums are asking voters to declare that slavery or involuntary slavery of any kind should not be allowed.
Others go further, such as the Alabama question that seeks to remove “all racist language” from the state’s constitution. In Oregon, the amendment would add provisions allowing the state courts or parole agency to order an option of imprisonment for a convicted person.
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Advocates of criminal justice reform say the referendums are more than symbolic, and could lead to major changes for those who are in prison, such as paying them higher wages for prison work or forced labor altogether. to end
Voters in 2018 Colorado, Nebraska and Utah Heavy Slavery and involuntary slavery were abolished through the ballot initiative.
Legislation has been introduced in California, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio and Texas to allow voters to have similar ballot questions before future elections.
reducing weeds, psychedelics
Many states will direct voters to drug policies with ballot questions on decriminalizing marijuana and some psychedelics.
at least five states Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota want to legalize marijuana for residents 21 years of age or older.
But in some places the provisions go even further.
Proposed amendments in Missouri would decriminalize marijuana use and give people convicted of nonviolent cannabis offenses the opportunity to get early release from prison and to have their criminal records eliminated.
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A legal battle is still underway in Oklahoma to determine whether voters will have a chance to tackle the issue with similar reforms this fall.
Colorado has a voting initiative that asks voters whether the state should define certain psychedelic plants and fungi as natural medicine, including mescaline.
Under the amendment, personal use, possession, transportation and development would be legal for people 21 years of age or older. The changes would also create a regulatory agency that would oversee treatment centers licensed to conduct naturopathic services.
Minimum Wage, Right to Work Rules
Nevada voters will be given a chance to give employees a pay increase this fall when they are asked to raise the minimum wage for all employees to $12 an hour.
Right now the state level how much a person is paid for sits between $9.50 to $10.50 an hour, depending on whether they have health insurance.
In 2019, the Nevada legislature passed a measure to raise the minimum wage by increments without addressing the health insurance discrepancy. The ballot question would establish a uniform rate for all, regardless of their insurance status.
More: Nevada’s minimum wage rises but is lower than a year ago
Illinois voters are being asked to establish a constitutional right to collective bargaining, which would guarantee workers the right to organize a union.
On the opposite end of the political spectrum, Tennessee voters would approve a work-to-work amendment to the state’s constitution, which would ban workplaces from requiring labor union membership as a condition of employment.
Expanded Medicaid, Health Care
One of the major debates about the Affordable Care Act from a decade ago was whether states would accept or reject federal incentives to expand Medicaid eligibility.
So far this year, 38 states and the District of Columbia have done the same, while many are doing so through ballot initiatives. For example, voters in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah did so in 2018.
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South Dakota, one of 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid, will have an opportunity for a coalition of health care groups to join forces this year to push the idea to the ballot box.
Under the amendment, adults 18 to 65 earning less than 133% of the federal poverty level would receive Medicaid. That’s about $18,000 per person, or $37,000 for a family of four.
Other health care questions are scattered across the country.
In Oregon, a ballot initiative will ensure that every resident has access to “cost-effective, medically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right.”
California voters will consider banning the sale of flavored tobacco products.
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