Across the country in states that allow for citizen lawmaking through ballot propositions, yesterday voters in many states had a direct say in the laws that govern them. There were 188 measures on the ballot in 38 states. Below we review the official, unconfirmed election results of some of the key propositions. Join the conversation on Facebook and tell us about other important propositions in your state.
California Rejects GMO Labeling
As CMD has reported, California's Proposition 37 to label foods made with genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) enjoyed the support of two-thirds of the California population as of a month ago. But it suffered a precipitous decline in public support after a massive and misleading ad campaign funded by Monsanto and other "Big 6" GMO and pesticide companies, as well other big food corporations like PepsiCo, ($46 million as of November 5).
The measure failed to pass, with 47 percent voting for and 53 percent against.
Colorado and Montana Vote Against Citizens United
Colorado's Amendment 65 and Montana's Initiative 166 are ballot propositions designed to challenge the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United v. FEC that lifted bans on corporate political spending (see CMD's reporting for more on Citizens United).
California Rejects Anti-Labor "Paycheck Protection"
California's Proposition 32 has been called the "Paycheck Protection" Initiative -- a name straight out of the playbook of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). As CMD has reported, this proposition has been spun as campaign finance reform but would actually "eviscerate labor" by banning employers from deducting union dues in payroll processing and transmitting the dues to the unions that represent employees' rights.
The measure failed to pass, with 43.8 percent voting for and 56.2 percent voting against, but labor spent $75.2 million to hold off the attack. Similar measures have failed twice before in California.
California Rejects Auto Insurance Billionaire's Proposition
California voters faced a ballot proposition on an obscure but important consumer issue: whether or not to allow automobile insurers to set prices based on a driver's history of insurance coverage rather than other factors. The dominant donor to the campaign to pass the initiative was George Joseph, who chairs insurance company Mercury General. He spent at least $16.2 million on the campaign. The LA Times called the proposition a "billionaire's attempt to manipulate public policy."
The proposition failed to pass, with 45.4 percent voting for and 54.6 percent against.
Mixed Results for Labor in Michigan, South Dakota, and Idaho
Another labor rights proposition, Michigan's Proposal 2, would have amended the Michigan State Constitution to add collective bargaining for both private and public sector employees.
The measure failed to pass, with 37 percent voting for and 63 percent against.
In another loss for labor, voters in South Dakota failed to pass a referendum repealing 2011 House Bill 1234, which provides bonuses for high performing teachers but bans teacher tenure, with 32.77 percent voting for and 67.23 percent voting against.
However, in a win for labor, voters in Idaho rejected two referenda to uphold 2011 education laws that had limited collective bargaining for teachers. Proposition 1 to limit teacher contracts failed, with 43 percent voting for and 57 percent against. Proposition 2 also failed, with 42 percent voting for and 58 percent against.
Michigan Repeals "Emergency Manager" Law
As CMD has reported, Michigan's controversial Emergency Manager Law, 2011 Public Act 4, allowed the governor to appoint emergency managers to take over local municipalities like Benton Harbor in place of officials elected by residents. Volunteers collected over 200,000 signatures to get a referendum -- Proposal 1 -- on yesterday's ballot to overturn the law.
The measure to keep the law in place failed, with 48 percent voting for and 52 percent against, successfully overturning the law.
Michigan Turns Down ALEC-Inspired Supermajority Tax Initiative
Michigan voters also had their say on a proposition sponsored by the front group Michigan Alliance for Prosperity and taken right from ALEC's playbook. The Michigan Taxation Amendment, Proposal 5, is similar to ALEC's Super-Majority Act and would amend the state constitution to require a 2/3 majority in the legislature to enact an increase in state taxes.
The measure failed, with 31 percent voting for and 69 percent against.
Minnesota Votes Against ALEC-Inspired Voter ID Measure
The measure showed support until the final hours, but it failed to pass, with 45.79 percent voting for and 54.21 percent voting against.
Five States Vote on ALEC-Inspired Attempts to Block "ObamaCare"
Voters in Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Montana, and Wyoming weighed in on propositions to block aspects of 2010 federal health care legislation, the Affordable Care Act or "ObamaCare." ALEC has been pushing similar laws nationwide.
The measures fared as follows:it failed 52 percent to 48 percent in Florida, but passed 59 percent to 41 percent in Alabama, passed 61.8 percent to 38.2 percent in Missouri, passed 66 percent to 34 percent in Montana, and passed 77 percent to 23 percent in Wyoming.
Georgia and Washington State Pass Charter School Propositions
Georgia voters weighed in on a proposal to give the state legislature the right to create public charter schools, another part of the ALEC wish list. The measure passed, with 58.5 percent voting for and 41.5 percent voting against.
Washington State voted on a proposition to allow the creation of 40 charter schools in the next five years. It has been called the "billionaires initiative" because its signature drive was primarily funded by Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and the parents of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. The measure passed, with 51.24 percent voting for and 48.76 percent against.
Maine, Washington State, and Maryland Support Gay Marriage
In a significant turning of the tide, Maine, Washington State, and Maryland became the first states to successfully legalize gay marriage rights through ballot referenda. Previous to these victories, as Rachel Maddow pointed out, gay rights activists were "0 and 32" for gay marriage rights in the states via ballot proposition. "All state-level victories for same-sex marriage have come from courts or legislatures," according to the Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California.
Maine's proposition passed with 54 percent voting for and 46 percent against. Washington State's proposition passed with 52 percent voting for and 48 percent against. Maryland's proposition passed with 52 percent for and 48 percent against. Minnesota voters also failed to pass a proposition banning gay marriage, with 49 percent voting for and 50 percent voting against.
Colorado and Washington State Legalize Marijuana
Colorado and Washington State citizens yesterday voted to legalize small amounts of marijuana for individual possession and use. Colorado's proposition passed with 54 percent voting for and 46 percent against, and Washington State's passed with 55 percent voting for and 45 percent against. Oregon's similar ballot proposition did not pass, with 45 percent for and 55 percent voting against.
In addition, Massachusetts voters passed a proposition to legalize medical marijuana, with 63 percent voting for and 37 percent against. Montana voters, however, passed a proposition banning medical marijuana, with 57 percent voting for and 42 percent against.