Elections Are Not Just About Candidates

Marijuana Flag
Jose Luis Magana, File/ AP Photo

By Brian J. Skinner

Although most of the discussion following yesterday's voting is focused on the Presidential race, several states also had referendums on the ballot. Some of the more notable referendums include:

Marijuana -- New Jersey and Arizona legalized recreational marijuana use, while South Dakota and Mississippi approved medical marijuana. Now, one in three Americans live in a state where adults can legally buy pot.

Drug decriminalization -- Oregon decided to decriminalize the use of all drugs (including heroin and cocaine). 

Gig economy -- Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash’s hugely expensive Prop 22 passed in California. The ballot measure directly challenged a recent state law that required these companies to classify their drivers as employees, not independent contractors. Uber and Lyft warned earlier this year that they might suspend their services in California over the law. 

Workers -- Floridians voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2026 and Colorado will establish a progressive family and medical leave program. 

Sports betting -- Maryland appears poised to approve a statewide measure to legalize sports betting, according to preliminary election returns.

Abortion rights -- In Colorado, voters rejected Proposition 115, which would’ve banned late-term abortions. In Louisiana, voters passed Amendment 1, which would add language to the state constitution stating that it does not recognize a right to an abortion. (Samantha Schmidt and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux)

State flag -- Mississippi voters approved a new state flag design with a magnolia flower on a blue background and red and yellow outer stripes — retiring a 126-year-old banner that featured the Confederate battle emblem.

Public schools -- Voters in Arizona passed Proposition 208, an income tax surcharge to provide more money for public schools.

Official name -- Rhode Island passed Question 1, which removes “Providence Plantations” from the state’s official name.

Brian is the former counsel to the West Virginia House of Delegates Judiciary Committee and counsel to the West Virginia Senate Minority Caucus. He was also general counsel to the West Virginia State Health Officer and Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health. He has almost two-decades of experience as a strategic advisor and chief legal counsel to both executive and legislative branch public officials.

 

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