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Initiatives and referenda: The overlooked part of elections

Initiatives and referenda are often overlooked in the red shirt/blue shirt post-game analysis. But I find them fascinating. USA Today has a quick review of some ballot measures across the nation. I see that Mary Jane did well, winning approval in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington DC, though not in Florida. Oh well. It’s getting to the point that when our economy tanks, we can all light up to make the pain go away. Even as it becomes more difficult to purchase legal products (continue reading), we’re making it easier to take one toke over the line. Freedom!

In neighboring Wisconsin, voters approved a measure to (allegedly) “prevent the state transportation fund from being siphoned to pay for other needs.” That sounds great, though I’d like to look at the details. Voters in Milwaukee said that it’s just find and dandy to regulate political speech–and they did so by greater than a 2:1 margin. Illinois approved a question that prohibits voting-related laws that have a disparate impact on selected groups of people. That sounds like a law with a lot of unanticipated consequences. Voters in Arkansas decided to let “dry” counties remain that way, should they choose. Score one for local control, and one against personal choice. The campaign was enough to remind one of the theory of baptists and bootleggers, though in this case, established liqour distributors stood in the place of the bootleggers. Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates scored a win in Washington state, where voters approved an initiative to impose more regulations on the purchase of guns. Finally, voters in Berkeley, California, approved a soda pop tax. Who says that liberalism is (just) about providing free stuff?

This was first published at Look True North. For more information, see the Initiative and Referenda Institute, which has a handy compilation (PDF) of the results from the 2014 election.