Americans for Tax Reform 2018 Ballot Guide

The fate of more than 150 statewide ballot measures will be decided by voters in 38 states from coast to coast on November 6. The initiatives and referenda that will be put to voters in the 2018 midterm elections span a broad range of issues, including tax, budget, health care, labor, and energy policy. Americans for Tax Reform has compiled the following list of 2018 ballot measures that will be particularly consequential to taxpayers, and whose outcomes will affect national, regional, and state economies for better or worse:

 

Arizona

Title: Renewable Energy Standards Initiative

Amendment/Initiative name: Proposition 127

Policy area: Energy

This measure would: Force Arizona’s electric utilities to acquire 50 percent of their electricity from certain types of renewables by 2030. The current mandate requires utilities to generate 15% of their electricity from renewables by 2025. This requirement would be imposed regardless of cost to consumers, and neither nuclear generation – which is usually considered renewable – pre-1997 hydropower, nor would future innovations qualify.

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: DEFEATED. 68% to 31%.

Title: Expansion of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Referendum

Amendment/Initiative name: Proposition 305

Policy area: Education

This measure would: Uphold Senate Bill 1431 from 2017. SB 1431 gradually expands Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA’s) program, allowing students to use up to 90% of the money allotted for their public school education on private school tuition, homeschooling expenses, and other qualified items.

ATR Recommendation: Support

Result: DEFEATED. 65% to 34%

Arkansas

Title: Minimum Wage Increase Initiative

Amendment/Initiative name: Issue 5

Policy area: Labor

This measure would: Increase the state minimum wage $2.50 per hour by January 1, 2021, raising it from the current amount, $8.50 per hour, to $9.25 per hour on January 1, 2019, then from $9.25 per hour to $10.00 per hour on January 1, 2020, and then from $10.00 per hour to $11.00 per hour on January 1, 2021.

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: APPROVED. 68% to 31%.

California

Title: Voter Approval for Future Gas and Vehicle Taxes and 2017 Tax Repeal Initiative

Amendment/Initiative name: Proposition 6

Policy area: Tax

This measure would: Repeal the gas tax and vehicle registration fee hikes enacted by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in 2017, providing much needed relief to Golden State taxpayers, who face one of the nation’s highest state and local tax burdens. Passage of this measure would require voter approval for future gas tax hikes.

ATR Recommendation: Support

Result: DEFEATED. 55% to 44%.


Colorado

Title: Establish Income Tax Brackets and Raise Taxes for Education Initiative

Amendment/Initiative name: Amendment 73

Policy area: Tax

This measure would: Establish a progressive income tax system and impose higher rates on incomes above $150,000. The measure would also result in a more than 29% corporate tax rate hike, taking the rate from 4.63% to 6%.

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: DEFEATED. 54% to 45%.

Title: “Fix Our Damn Roads” Transportation Bond Initiative

Amendment/Initiative name: Proposition 109

Policy area: Tax

This measure would: Authorize $3.5 billion in bonds to fund statewide transportation projects as an alternative to raising taxes.

ATR Recommendation: Support

Result: DEFEATED. 59.6% to 40.40%.

Title: “Let’s Go Colorado” Transportation Bond and Sales Tax Increase Initiative

Amendment/Initiative name: Proposition 110

Policy area: Tax

This measure would: Authorize $6 billion in bonds to fund transportation projects and raise the state sales tax rate by more than 21%, taking the rate from 2.9 percent (2018) to 3.52 percent for 20 years starting on January 1, 2019, through January 1, 2039

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: DEFEATED. 59% to 40%.

Title: Minimum Distance Requirements for New Oil, Gas, and Fracking Projects Initiative

Amendment/Initiative name: Proposition 112

Policy area: Energy

This measure would: Impose a new, heightened mandate that new oil and gas development projects, including fracking, be a minimum distance of 2,500 feet from occupied buildings and other areas designated as vulnerable (an increase from the 500 foot minimum distance mandated under current law).

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: DEFEATED. 55% to 44%.


Connecticut

Title: Two-thirds vote & public hearing requirement to transfer state lands

Amendment/Initiative name: Connecticut Legislative Requirements to Transfer State Properties Amendment

Policy area: Land Management, State Parks

This measure would: Require the state legislature to hold public hearings on any transfer or sale of state-owned property, like parks, to a local government, or private entity. It would also require a two-thirds vote in the state Senate and Assembly to authorize the transfer. Adding additional barriers to state government’s ability to sell land could create inefficiencies that may burden taxpayers.

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: APPROVED 84.45% to 15.55%.


Florida

Title: Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption Amendment

Amendment/Initiative name: Amendment 1

Policy area: Property Taxes

This measure would: Amend the constitution to increase the value of homes eligible for the homestead property tax exemption to $100,000-$125,000. The maximum exemption would become $75,000. The exemption does not extend to school taxes.

ATR Recommendation: Support

Result: REJECTED. 58% for to 42% against (needed 60%).

Title: Permanent Cap on Nonhomestead Parcel Assessment Increases Amendment

Amendment/Initiative name: Amendment 2

Policy area: Property Taxes

This measure would: Make the 10% non-homestead limit on property tax increases permanent. Nonhomestead parcels include second homes, rental properties, commercial properties, and vacant land.

ATR Recommendation: Support

Result: APPROVED. 66.5% to 33.5%.

Title: Increase to Two-Thirds Vote Majority in Legislature to Increase Taxes Amendment

Amendment/Initiative name: Amendment 5

Policy area: Taxes

This measure would: Increase the majority needed in both chambers of the state legislature to two-thirds in order to increase taxes. Prevents any provisions to raise taxes or fees from being tacked onto other state bills.

ATR Recommendation: Support

Result: APPROVED. 65.75% to 34.25%.

Title: Ban on Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling, Ban on Indoor Vaping Amendment

*NOTE*: This measure was struck from the ballot by a judge’s decision, however, as of October 1, it is still possible it could return to the ballot due to an ongoing appeal.

Amendment/Initiative name: Amendment 9

Policy area: Energy, Environment, Oil & Gas, Consumer Choice, Vaping

This measure would: Ban offshore natural gas and oil extraction in all Florida waters. The measure also prohibits vaping, or use of e-cigarettes in indoor workplaces. It also gives more room to localities to regulate vaping.

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: APPROVED. 68.85% to 31.15%.


Hawaii

Title: Allowing Surcharge on Residential Investment Properties for Education Funding Amendment

Amendment/Initiative name: Senate Bill 2922

Policy Area: Education: PreK-12 | Tax & Revenue 

This measure would: Allow the state legislature to tax investment properties

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Update: The Hawaii Supreme Court has declared the ballot question invalid and notes that any votes on this proposed constitutional amendment will not be counted and will not have an impact.


Idaho

Title: Medicaid Expansion Initiative

Amendment/ Initiative Name: Proposition 2

Policy Area: Healthcare  

This measure would: Expand Medicaid coverage in accordance with Obamacare to those under 65 and whose income is 133 percent or below of the federal poverty line and who are not eligible for other state medical insurance coverage. If Proposition 2 is approved, it will place a huge burden on the state budget and bankrupt taxpayers. As the foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) notes Feb. 2018 report, Medicaid expansion cost states two and a half times as much as promised. Moreover, expansion per-person costs have exceeded original estimates by 76 percent and total Medicaid expansion cost overruns have cost taxpayers 157 percent more than expected. These overruns would shackle Idaho taxpayers with billions of dollars more than expected.

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

ResultAPPROVED. 60% to 39%.

 

 


Indiana

Title: State Balanced Budget Amendment

Amendment/Initiative name: Public Question 1

Policy area: Budget, Taxes

This measure would: Add an amendment to the Indiana constitution requiring the legislature to adopt a balanced budget. A two-thirds majority vote can override this requirement.

ATR Recommendation: Support

Result: APPROVED. 72% to 28%.


Louisiana

Title: Unanimous Jury Verdict for Felony Trials Amendment

Amendment/Initiative name: Amendment 2

Policy area: Criminal Justice Reform

This measure would: Bring Louisiana up to speed with the 48 other states that require unanimous agreement of jurors to convict people charged with felonies. Under the status quo, Louisiana requires just 10 out of 12 jurors for felony convictions.

ATR Recommendation: Support

Result: APPROVED. 64% to 35%.        

Title: Phase-In of Tax Increases from Property Reappraisal Amendment

Amendment/Initiative name: Amendment 6

Policy Area: Tax

This amendment would: Allow tax increases that come from reappraisals – the reassessment of the market value of a property – that increase a property’s value by more than 50 percent to be phased in over four years.

ATR Recommendation: Support

Result: APPROVED. 57% to 42%.


Maine

Title: Payroll and Non-Wage Income Taxes for Home Care Program Initiative

Amendment/Initiative name: Question 1

Policy area: Tax

This measure would: Enact a new 3.8% payroll tax and a non-wage income tax hike. The new entitlement program created by passage of Question 1 would be funded with a 1.9% payroll tax on employers on income paid to an employee above $128,400 (the Social Security’s Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) contribution and benefits base), as well as a 1.9% payroll tax on employees’ income above $128,400, equating to a total payroll tax hike of 3.8 percent. Question 1 would also enact a 3.8% tax on non-wage income, such as stock dividends and interest, above $128,400.

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: DEFEATED. 62% to 37%.


Missouri

Title: Gradual Minimum Wage Increase to $12 Initiative

Amendment/ Initiative Name: Proposition B

Policy Area: Labor & Employment 

This measure would: Increase the state’s minimum wage requirement to $12 per hour by 2023.

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: APPROVED. 62% to 37%. 

Title: Increase of Gas Tax, Tax Exemption for Olympic Prizes Money, and Road Infrastructure Fund Measure

Amendment/ Initiative Name: Proposition D

Policy Area: Tax, Criminal Justice, & Transportation

This measure would: Raise the tax on gasoline, diesel, natural gas, and propane by 10 cents per gallon, and dedicate funding to law enforcement. Proposition D would also prizes won at the Special Olympics, Paralympics, and Olympics from state taxation.

ATR Recommendation: Oppose.

Result: DEFEATED. 53% to 46%.


Nebraska

Title: Medicaid Expansion Initiative

Amendment/Initiative name: Initiative 427

Policy area: Healthcare, Budget

This measure would: Expand the state’s Medicaid program in accordance with Obamacare (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: APPROVED. 53% support. 


Nevada

Title: Medical Equipment Sales Tax Exemption Amendment

Amendment/Initiative name: Question 4

Policy area: Healthcare, Taxes

This measure would: Constitutionally-require the legislature to pass a law exempting medical equipment from sales taxes.

ATR Recommendation: Support

Result: APPROVED. 67% support. 

Title: “50-by-30” Renewable Energy Standards Initiative

Amendment/Initiative name: Question 6

Policy area: Energy

This measure would: Require utilities to generate 50% of electricity from renewable sources by 2050.

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: APPROVED. 59% support. 


New Hampshire

Title: New Hampshire Taxpayer Standing to Bring Legal Actions Against Government Amendment 

Policy area: Tax

This measure would: Give taxpayers the right to take legal action against state and local governments (where they reside) to declare that public resources have been spent or have been approved to be spent in violation of law.

ATR Recommendation: Support

Result: APPROVED.82% to 17%. 


New Jersey

Title: $500 Million School Bonds Measure

Amendment/Initiative name: Question 1

Policy area: Education, Budget

This measure would: Approve $500 million in new bonding for schools.

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: APPROVED. 52.4% to 47.6%.


North Carolina

Title: North Carolina Income Tax Cap Amendment

Amendment/Initiative name: Income Tax Cap Amendment

Policy area: Tax

This measure would: Lower the North Carolina’s constitutional income tax cap, currently set at 10%, to 7%. The state’s income tax rate stands at 5.499% and is scheduled to drop to 5.25% on January 1, 2019. Governor Roy Cooper and the North Carolina Democratic Party have come out against this measure, even though the reduced income tax cap of 7% would still permit a more than 33% state income tax increase.

ATR Recommendation: Support

Result: APPROVED. 57% to 42%.


North Dakota 

Title: Ethics Commission, Foreign Political Contribution Ban, and Conflicts of Interest Initiative

Amendment/Initiative name: North Dakota Measure 1

Policy area: Free Speech; Ethics

This measure would: Create an ethics board appointed by Governor and Senate. Ban political contributions from foreign government entities, foreign individuals, and foreign corporations. It intends to create restrictions on lobbying, and require all contributions to political efforts and issue campaigns to be published online.

The open-ended language is potentially unconstitutional and would require invasive reporting of information from citizen groups just for communicating on a public issue. Even news media could be captured under the law. The right to privacy for a company’s shareholders, or advocacy group’s donors would be violated. These attacks on free speech would be supported with taxpayer dollars.

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: APPROVED. 54% to 46%.


Oklahoma

Title: Right of Optometrists and Opticians to Practice in Retail Establishments Initiative

Amendment/Initiative name: Question 793

Policy area: Regulatory/Health Care

This measure would: Lift the state’s prohibition preventing retailers from operating eye care centers. Passage of this measure will expand access to eye care and reduce associated costs.

ATR Recommendation: Support

Result: DEFEATED. 50.2% to 49.8%.

 

 


Oregon

Title: Ban Tax on Groceries Initiative

Amendment/Initiative name: Measure 103

Policy area: Tax

This measure would: Prohibit state and local governments in Oregon from taxing groceries.

ATR Recommendation: Support

Result: DEFEATED. 47% to 42%.

Title: Definition of Raising Revenue for Three-Fifths Vote Requirement Initiative 

Amendment/Initiative name: Measure 104

Policy area: Tax

This measure would: Make clear that any vote to raise fees or taxes – not just by raising rates, but also by limiting or scrapping credits and deductions – requires a three-fifths majority vote by both chambers of the legislature in order to pass.

ATR Recommendation: Support

Result: DEFEATED. 65% to 34%.


South Dakota

Title: Tobacco Tax Increase Initiative

Amendment/Initiative name: Initiated Measure 25

Policy area: Tax

This measure would: Increase the cigarette tax about $1.00 per pack, taking the amount from $1.53 per pack to $2.53 per pack, and would also increase the tax on wholesale tobacco products 20 percentage points, from 35 to 55 percent of the wholesale price.

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: DEFEATED. 55% to 44%.


Utah

Title: 10 Cents per Gallon Gas Tax Increase

Amendment/Initiative name: Nonbinding Opinion Question 1

Policy area: Tax

This measure would: Advise the legislature to increase the state gas tax by 10 cents per gallon, which is estimated to amount to about $100 million per year.

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: DEFEATED. 65% to 34%. 

Title: Medicaid Expansion Initiative

Amendment/Initiative name: Proposition 3

Policy area: Healthcare

This measure would: Expand Medicaid coverage in accordance with Obamacare for all people under age 65 and with incomes equal to or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line, and increase the state sales tax from 4.70 percent to 4.85 percent to pay for it. If Proposition 3 is approved, it will place a huge burden on the state budget and bankrupt taxpayers. As the foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) notes Feb. 2018 report, Medicaid expansion cost states two and a half times as much as promised. Moreover, expansion per-person costs have exceeded original estimates by 76 percent and total Medicaid expansion cost overruns have cost taxpayers 157 percent more than expected. These overruns would shackle Idaho taxpayers with billions of dollars more than expected.

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: APPROVED. 53% to 46%.


Washington

Title: Carbon Emissions Tax Measure

Amendment/Initiative name: Initiative 1631

Policy area: Tax

This measure would: Impose a $15/metric ton of carbon tax starting in 2020, with the rate increased $2 annually until emissions reduction goals are met.

ATR Recommendation: Oppose

Result: DEFEATED. 56% to 43%. 

Title: Prohibit Local Taxes on Groceries Measure 

Amendment/Initiative name: Initiative 1634

Policy area: Tax

This measure would: Prohibit local governments from taxing groceries.

ATR Recommendation: Support

Result:APPROVED. 55% to 44%.