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Elections Update: Incumbent govs re-elected; legislative results in VA, NJ; ballot initiative results in three states

November 09, 2023
By: Laura Lacy Graham

The Kentucky and Mississippi gubernatorial elections were held on Nov. 7, with both incumbents, Andy Beshear (D) and Tate Reeves (R), winning re-election. Legislative elections were also held in Mississippi (where simple majorities were guaranteed for Republicans in both chambers), New Jersey, and Virginia. With all 40-person Senate and 80-person Assembly seats in the New Jersey Legislature up for election, the Democrats not only retained their legislative majority, which they have held since 2004, but expanded it. Meanwhile, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s hopes to advance his conservative agenda were dashed as voters kept the state Senate in Democratic hands and flipped the state House blue.  In Michigan, which did not hold a legislative election this year, the Democrats lost their slim majority in the House (as well as its first majority of both chambers in four decades) when voters elected two state representatives as mayors to southeast Michigan communities. Although the twin victories were planned for by leadership, it also means that the Democrats will, at least temporarily, lose their two-seat edge (56 to 54) in the state House of Representatives. The even split between the two parties returns Michigan to a divided government until Gov. Gretchen Whitmer calls for a special election.

Six states (Colorado, Maine, New York, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas) voted on 36 statewide ballot measures this fall, with five voting on 28 measures this week. Of the total measures, many focused on taxes and state funds, 30 were legislatively referred constitutional amendments or statutes, while the other six were citizen initiatives. In this week’s election, 24 of the 28 ballot measures put before voters were approved. The following initiatives were discussed in last week’s SSTI Weekly Digest and their preliminary results are as follows:


Voters defeated Proposition HH, which would have enacted changes to state property taxes and revenue limitations and allowed the state government to retain revenue that would otherwise be refunded to taxpayers or required to be reimbursed under the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR).


Voters in Ohio approved Issue 2 (the Marijuana Legalization Initiative), which legalizes the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 years of age or older and enacts a 10% tax on cannabis sales, with the revenues going toward administrative costs, addiction treatment programs, municipalities with dispensaries, and a social and equity jobs program. According to an analysis by The Ohio State University, the measure would generate additional revenues of $218 million in the first year and between $276 million and $403 million in annual tax revenue by the fifth year of full legalization. But legalization is not guaranteed. Since it was a citizen-initiated ballot measure, the legislature can modify or repeal it. 


Voters in Texas approved Proposition 3, which prohibits a wealth or net worth tax, or the enactment of an individual wealth or net worth tax on individuals or families without requiring lawmakers to ask voters for authorization; approved Proposition 4 which increases homestead tax exemptions to $100,000 and increases state funding for public education; approved Proposition 5 which renames the National Research University Fund to the Texas University Fund and establishes an ongoing revenue source from the accrued interest of the economic stabilization fund; approved Proposition 8 which creates the Texas Broadband Infrastructure Fund to finance high-speed broadband access; and, approved Proposition 10 which authorizes an ad valorem tax exemption on equipment and inventory manufactured by medical or biomedical companies.