Trends Watcher

There are several types of key ballot measure issue areas, including: 

  • Democracy: Policies that pertain to our governing systems 
    • Voting Rights 
    • Elections 
    • Campaign finance
    • Redistricting
  • Fiscal Policy: Policies that pertain to taxation and government spending 
    • Income Taxes 
    • Property Taxes 
    • Corporate and Business Taxes 
    • State budgets 
    • Education budgets 
  • Ballot Initiative Process: Changes to laws governing ballot measures 
    • Signature  Gathering 
    • Language development 
    • Protection and implementation of ballot measures that are approved 
  • Civil Rights: Guarantees of equal social opportunities and protection under the law, regardless of race, religion, or other characteristics
    • Racial equality 
    • Gender equality 
    • Marriage equality 
    • Criminal Legal Reform – Laws, procedures, institutions, and policies at play before, during, and after the commission of a crime.Policing 
    • Sentencing 
    • Abolishing the Prison Industrial Complex 
  • Reproductive Health/Rights: Access to health care for all reproductive needs.  Pertaining to a person’s ability to decide when to become pregnant, to terminate a pregnancy, and the legal protections to act on that decision
    • Reproductive Health: A continuum of physical, mental and social-emotional care pertaining to the reproductive system at all stages of life. 
    • Reproductive Rights: largely focused on abortion and contraception. 
  • Health Justice: Access to equitable and affordable quality health care for all
    • Medicaid expansion 
    • Universal healthcare 
    • Cost transparency 
    • Full body health care 
    • Corporate responsibility and  accountability 
  • Economic Justice: Systemic policies that end the cycle of poverty and prevent wealth inequality 
    • Worker Rights
    • Wages
    • Benefits 
    • Paid Sick Leave 
    • Paid Family Leave  
    • Fair lending 
    • Housing 
  • Education: Policies in the educational sphere that govern the operation of education systems
    • School to Prison Pipeline 
    • Curriculum
    • Vouchers
    • Choice policies 
  • Environmental Protection: Policies that impact the protection of the natural environment, conservation of natural resources and the existing natural environment
    • Oil & Gas 
    • Mining 
    • Air quality 
    • Recycling 
    • Land use 
  • Immigration: Policies that influence migration for permanent settlement, temporary labor migration, migration for family reunification and migration of highly skilled workers

Progressive Wins Lead to Voting Access AND Direct Democracy Restrictions

More than one-third of all ballot measures filed for 2022 pertain to Democracy and the Ballot Initiative Process: 83  measures that would impact our Democracy and another 24 that would impact the initiative process directly are in process for the 2022 election. Four measures have already been certified that would create barriers to direct democracy: Arkansas, 60% voter approval threshold; Arizona, creation of a single subject rule, and the repeal of the Voter Protection Act which protects ballot measure from legislative alteration; and South Dakota (June Special Election), 60% voter approval threshold for tax increases and fiscal impacts over $10 million.

The rise in Democracy-related ballot measures is part of a concerted conservative effort to dismantle our democracy as a whole by attacking the ballot initiative process, the freedom to vote, the freedom to protest, and limit the powers of state and local officials during an emergency.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 14 measures have been filed to limit the power of government during an emergency or prohibit government from taking specific public health actions. For example, Michigan legislators have exploited the indirect initiative process to repeal the Emergency Powers Act of 1945. The vote came one week after the state Senate also approved the initiative. The indirect process in Michigan allows the legislature to approve a measure without sending it to voters and without the signature of the governor. 

We expect the trend of rising attacks on direct democracy and the ballot initiative process to continue throughout the next legislative session, as GOP legislators continue to retaliate against progressive wins at the ballot box.