2009 ballot measures: Taxes, marriage, marijuana, casinos

On November 3, voters in six states will weigh in on 26 statewide ballot questions and hundreds of local ballot measures in several dozen states. Recent polls show tight races in the most contested campaigns.

Back in May, California voters kicked a $16 billion tax hike to the curb.

Next week, voters are using the veto referendum process to opine on Question 1, the same-sex marriage statute enacted by the Maine state legislature earlier this year. Voters in the State of Washington will consider a veto attempt to roll back expanded domestic partnership rights in Washington R-71.

Voters in Maine and Washington also have a chance to vote on whether they want a lid on state government spending: Maine Question 4 and Washington I-1033 dig into that subject.

Texans might amend the Texas Constitution to limit the ability of local governments to take property through eminent domain.

The Humane Society has been very effective at using ballot initiatives to advance their agenda. In recent years, they shepherded Proposition 2 to a decisive victory in California, along with Prop 204 in Arizona in 2006. Have they met their tactical match in Ohio? Leading Democratic and Republican legislators from Ohio, and the state’s agricultural community, have joined forces behind Issue 2, which the Humane Society regards as an attempt to “thwart meaningful improvement” in how Ohio farmers treat livestock.

Also in Ohio, casino interests that were once at war have joined forces and are likely to get Issue 3 passed. Issue 3 allows casino gambling in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo. Part of its appeal to voters is the 33% tax rate that will apply to casino revenues.

Back in Maine, after wrangling with marriage and taxes, voters can turn to the Maine Medical Marijuana Initiative, Question 5, which creates “a regulated system of distribution” for medical marijuana. Opponents include several medical marijuana patients, whose objections mirror a split in the marijuana community around the Tax California Marijuana Initiative headed for the 2010 ballot in the state that loves ballot initiatives the most.