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TBED Ballot Issues, Bond Proposals Fare Well in Midterm Elections

November 06, 2014

In case you missed it, the midterm elections were on Tuesday, resulting in Republicans taking control of Congress, several new governors, and five states endorsing minimum wage increases. Although the 146 state ballot measures up for vote were a quarter-century low, several proposals were relevant to the TBED community, as highlighted in a Digest article last week. Voters ultimately approved many of these proposals, although initiatives related to higher-education in North Dakota and Oregon both failed. 

Issue Three in Arkansas was approved by voters, officially banning lobbyist gifts to state officials, prohibiting direct corporate and union contributions to candidates, and doubling the time needed before former politicians can become lobbyists. It appeared that the measure was headed to defeat, largely because in addition to these provisions, Issue Three also increases term limits to 16 years per office. 

Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 105, an initiative to label genetically engineered foods, with more than 68 percent of voters saying no to the labeling. About $900,000 was contributed in support for the initiative, mainly from individuals and organic groups, while $16 million from food companies and seed and chemical firms was contributed by the opposition.

Residents in Georgia approved Amendment A, a constitutional amendment freezing the state’s top income tax rate at 6 percent and prohibiting lawmakers from raising the Georgia’s top marginal income tax rate above its current level.

In Maine, Question 3, Question 4, Question 5,and Question 7 were all approved, supporting bond issues for a variety of TBED initiatives, including the creation of new laboratories related to animal and plant disease and insect control and a new research center for genetic solutions to cancer and diseases of ageing.   Question 5 is a bond issue that will expand infrastructure in a tissue repair biological laboratory and Question 7 provides bond funding to support the state’s marine industry.

North Dakota’s Measure 3 failed to pass, keeping the State Board of Higher Education intact. The measure would have replaced the eight-member part-time board with a three-member full-time Commission.

Measure 92, Oregon’s GMO labeling initiative, failed narrowly in the state’s costliest ballot measure of all time. Labeling proponents in Oregon fared much better than their Colorado counterparts in fundraising, receiving more than $8 million – a small number compared to the $20 million raised by opponents. Likewise, Measure 86, which would have allowed the state to borrow money to establish a fund for college financial aid, was defeated.

Rhode Island voters approved all of their bond referenda, including Question 4, which proposes borrowing $35 million to rebuild engineering facilities at the University of Rhode Island.     

Similarly, all of Tennessee’s constitutional amendments were approved. Amendment 3 prevents state and local governments from enacting a personal income tax or a payroll tax measured by income. 

Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maine, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennesseehigher ed, workforce, elections