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$5.5B for R&D in CA among critical state ballot initiatives

October 08, 2020
By: Ellen Marrison

With the general election less than one month away, SSTI has reviewed the 120 state ballot initiatives throughout the country for innovation-related issues. Education, gig workers, redistricting and issues surrounding elections and state budgets are scattered across the country and can affect the future of innovation through funding, talent and political will. Read below for coverage on the initiatives that could have an impact on different segments of the economy and the future of innovation.

Education and research

Question 1 on the Nevada ballot would remove the constitutional status of the Board of Regents governing higher education in the state if it wins voter approval. It would give the Legislature the power to govern, control and manage the state university system of higher education.

Proposition 14 in California would issue $5.5 billion in general obligation bonds for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which was created to fund stem cell research after voters approved Proposition 71 in 2004. Last year, CIRM suspended applications for new projects due to depleted funds, according to Ballotpedia. Issue 14 would dedicate $1.5 billion to brain-related diseases and require CIRM to spend no more than 7.5 percent of the bond funds on operation costs. Remaining funds would be spent on grants to entities that conduct research, trials, and programs related to stem cells, as well as start-up costs for facilities.

New Mexico voters will decide on the General Obligation (GO) Bond C that would issue no more than $156.3 million in bonds to make capital improvements for 33 public colleges, universities, special schools and tribal schools in the state.

Elections and redistricting

Ballot Measure 2 in Alaska would make changes to the state’s election policies that include replacing partisan primaries with open top-four primaries for state executive, state legislative, and congressional offices and would establish ranked-choice voting for general elections, including the presidential election, and would require additional disclosures for contributions to independent expenditure groups and relating to the sources of contributions. Massachusetts is also considering ranked-choice voting in Question 2, which if approved, would be enacted in 2022 for all statewide offices, state legislative offices, federal congressional offices, and certain other offices, but not presidential elections.

Colorado voters will consider Proposition 113, which would join Colorado with other states as part of an agreement to elect the president of the United States by national popular vote if enough states enter the agreement.

Florida’s Amendment 3 would replace closed elections for state legislators, the governor and lieutenant governor, and elected cabinet members to a top-two primary in which all candidates would be placed on one ballot regardless of political affiliation and the top two candidates would advance to the general election.

Mississippi’s Ballot Measure 2 would remove the electoral vote requirement and establish runoffs for gubernatorial and state office elections, and would provide that a candidate for governor or state office must receive a majority vote of the people.

Missouri voters will decide Amendment 3, which if passed, would change the redistricting process voters approved in 2018 by transferring responsibility for drawing state legislative districts from the Nonpartisan State Demographer to Governor-appointed bipartisan commissions and modify and reorder the redistricting criteria. New Jersey also has a redistricting measure on the ballot — Public Question 3, which would postpone the state legislative redistricting process until after the November 2021 election, if the state receives federal census data after Feb. 15, 2021 and it would keep the current state legislative districts in place until 2023. A no vote would keep the requirement that new maps be certified within one month of the state receiving federal census data or Feb. 1, whichever date is later. And in Virginia, if Question 1 is passed it will transfer the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts from the state Legislature to a redistricting commission composed of state legislators and citizens.


Nevada Question 6 would amend the state constitution to require electric utility providers in the state to acquire at least 50 percent of their electricity sold to come from renewable energy resources by 2030.

Marijuana and gaming

Several states have marijuana issues on the ballot, Arizona voters will vote on Proposition 207 that would legalize the recreational possession and use of marijuana and enact a 16 percent tax on its sale; Mississippi is considering Initiative 65 and Alternative 65A — two versions of a medical marijuana amendment; Montana I-190 would legalize non-medical marijuana and establish a 20 percent tax on its sale, with 10.5 percent of that going to the general fund while CI-118 would authorize the legislature or a citizen initiative to set a legal age for marijuana purchase, use and possession. Public Question No. 1 in New Jersey is a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana, which would be subject to the state sales tax, and in South Dakota Initiated Measure 26 would legalize marijuana for medical purposes and Constitutional Amendment A would legalize its recreational use.

Maryland’s Question 2, the Sports Betting Expansion Measure, would authorize sports and events wagering at certain licensed facilities for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education.

Nebraska voters will decide the fate of three gambling issues that would change the constitution to allow games of chance at licensed racetracks, establish a governing commission, and enact an annual 20 percent tax on gross gambling revenue of licensed gaming operators, with 2.5 percent of that going to the general fund.


California Proposition 22 is on the ballot as an initiated state statute and if passed would define app-based transportation and delivery drivers as independent contractors and adopt labor and wage policies specific to app-based drivers and companies. A no vote would mean California Asembly Bill 5, which was passed last year to give gig workers more benefits and protections, could be used to decide whether app-based drivers are employees or independent contractors. If passed, Proposition 22 would exempt drivers from AB 5, but would not affect how it is applied to other types of workers.

Florida voters will consider Amendment 2 that would increase the state minimum wage incrementally to $15 by 2026.

Illinois voters will face an amendment that would allow for a graduated income tax and repeal the state's constitutional requirement that the state personal income tax be a flat rate. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the measure in June 2019 that would enact a graduated income tax if voters approve the ballot measure.

Maryland’s Question 1 would alter the state’s budget process and authorize the Maryland General Assembly to increase, decrease, or add items to the state budget as long as such measures do not exceed the total proposed budget submitted by the governor.

states, elections, education, innovation, funding, energy, r&d