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State Ballot Measure Takeaways

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 10: A ride share driver picks up passengers at O'Hare Airport on April 10, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. In response to the death of 21-year-old University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson, the South Carolina House has approved a bill that would require Uber, Lyft and other ride sharing vehicles to have illuminated signs. Josephson was killed after climbing into a vehicle that she thought was her Uber ride. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
By Ashley Ravid on November 12, 2020

California's Prop 22 Passes

The costliest state ballot measure at issue was California's Proposition 22, which allows gig companies like DoorDash, Lyft, and Uber to designate their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. Its passing is seen as a loss for workers' rights. As employees rather than contractors, workers would be granted sick pay, overtime, and a guaranteed minimum wage.

These gig-based driving companies spent over $188 million in advertising to lobby for the passing of Prop 22, which means they can continue to pay their workers lesser wages. Instacart and Doordash workers were sometimes instructed to deliver food to customers in bags that promoted the ballot measure or to give them pro-Prop 22 stickers.

Drug Law Reform

The citizens of Montana, South Dakota, Arizona, and New Jersey all voted to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. South Dakota also voted to legalize medical marijuana, becoming the first state to vote on recreational and medical use of cannabis on the same ballot.

Oregon and Washington, D.C., legalized both medical and recreational cannabis in recent years. Now, both have taken steps to permit the usage of psilocybin or "magic" mushrooms.

In Oregon, the mushrooms have been legalized and will be available for limited use in controlled environments to treat mental illness. In D.C., the substance has been decriminalized — meaning that possession of the mushrooms no longer will be penalized as severely.

The Future 51st?

Puerto Rico may not be a state right now, but that may change in the near future. In the latest nonbinding referendum, 52% of voters supported statehood. While this does not set any statehood procedures in motion, it does indicate that most voters in Puerto Rico are in favor of becoming the 51st state.

Referendums in both 2017 and 2012 showed that a majority of voters supported statehood, though the results of these referendums were questioned. If Puerto Rican politicians decide to start pushing for statehood, their first step will be to push statehood legislation through Congress.

Abortion Law Updates

Louisiana voters passed an amendment to their state constitution which makes it clear that the right to an abortion and state funding for abortions are definitively not guaranteed by the constitution.

In Colorado, meanwhile, voters defeated a ballot measure that would outlaw abortions after 22 weeks. Colorado remains one of seven states that does not limit when an abortion is allowed during a pregnancy.

Interesting State Measures

Voters across the country approved or defeated a variety of ballot measures. Here are a few of the most interesting:

  • Oregon increased tax rates for tobacco and e-cigarettes
  • Florida's hourly minimum wage will rise to $15 over the next few years
  • Rhode Island shortened its official name to "State of Rhode Island" from "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations"
  • Franklin County, Alabama, passed a "stand your ground" that will allow for the use of deadly force in self-defense on church grounds

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