In Case You Missed It …

Tuesday’s election was about more than the Senate, the House and the governorships.  Little attention was given to some of the ‘issues’ on that ballot, but a few are of major importance.

On gerrymandering …

Michigan, one of the most gerrymandered states in the Union, overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment which provides that future legislative maps will be drawn by an independent commission. At the peak of its effectiveness, in 2012, Michigan’s gerrymander allowed Republicans to win 9 of the state’s 14 U.S. House seats, despite the fact that President Obama won the state by over 9 points that year.  Granted, it is only one state out of fifty, but added to Ohio and Pennsylvania that have already made progress against gerrymandering, it is a start.  Remember that Rome was not built in a day, and racism in politics will not be defeated in a day, either.

On funding education …

Education funding has dropped drastically in recent years. Twenty-nine states were providing less total school funding per student in 2015 than in 2008!  In 19 states, local government funding also fell. In more than half of the states in the United States, the poorest districts — districts with the highest rates of poverty — get $1,000 less per pupil in state and local funding than districts with the lowest poverty rates.

On Tuesday, six education initiatives passed overall, in Seattle, Washington; Georgia; Maryland; Montana; and two in the state of Maine.  Four others were defeated in Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah.  Although Colorado is the 12th richest state in the United States, it ranks low in terms of its education spending. It ranked 42nd in spending on public education and 39th in per pupil spending.  The reason for its failure on Tuesday?  The funding for the initiative would have come from a corporate tax increase that was turned down flat.  Those investment portfolios are a lot more important than the education of our future leaders, yes?

On abolition …

Yep, you heard right.  The State of Colorado’s Constitution still had a clause left over from 1865 stating …

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The state tried to pass an amendment to remove this clause in 2016, but the amendment failed because the wording on the ballot was so confusing that people weren’t sure whether they would be voting for or against.  The state finally got it right this year with …

“Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution that prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime and thereby prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude in all circumstances?”

It passed with overwhelming bipartisan support … 65%.  Um … so 35% want to keep the potential for slavery?  Sigh.  Some things just die hard.  It’s Colorado, the state that turned down increased educational spending.

Tough on guns …

The voters in Washington State deserve a two-thumbs-up and an ‘attaboy’ from us all, for on Tuesday, they passed one of the toughest gun regulations in the country with a 60% margin.  The measure will raise the legal age to buy semi-automatic rifles to 21. To obtain such weapons, people will need to pass an enhanced background check, take a training course and wait 10 business days after a purchase.  In addition, they will enact a storage law. Gun owners who don’t secure their firearms with devices such as a trigger lock or safe could be charged with gross misdemeanor or felony “community endangerment” crimes for allowing prohibited people (such as children) to access and display or use the weapons.

A group funded by the NRA (go figure) called Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms has announced its intention to sue in an attempt to block the measure.  Let us hope there are some sensible judges in Washington State.

On restoring voter’s rights …

Florida voters have approved a ballot initiative which provides former felons with the right to vote, re-enfranchising 1.4 million people.  I applaud this one with all of my hands.  I know there are many of you who disagree with me on this issue, but my thoughts are that a person who commits a felony is nonetheless still a citizen of this nation … he or she should still have a voice in the way the nation is run and who does the running.  The ‘punishment’ for their crime is, as meted out by the courts, imprisonment or probation, but does not include revocation of citizenship.  Especially when you consider how many convicted felons’ only crime was drug-related.  So, I am thrilled that Florida took the initiative and hope to see more states follow suit.

Last but not least …

The State of Michigan passed Proposal 1, legalizing marijuana aka pot, making it the first state in the Midwest to legalize pot for both medicinal and recreational use.  The proposal passed by 56%.  Two other states, Utah and Missouri, legalized it for medicinal use only.

There were other issues, initiatives, proposals and measures covered in Tuesday’s election, some important, such as Florida’s constitutional amendment banning both offshore drilling and indoor vaping, and several states’ proposals to limit a woman’s right to choose in abortion cases, and I will have more about those at a later date.  These were all largely overlooked in the feeding frenzy over the House elections, but now we can step back and see what else was either fixed or broken by voters.

18 thoughts on “In Case You Missed It …

  1. Jill, I was thrilled with the Medicaid expansion initiatives in three states, plus three expansion friendly governors. In NC, two GOP legislative power grab initiatives were defeated with the help of all living governors.

    Good things happened. The Senate vote was a little worse than expected, but the end result was not given the states in play. My greatest disappointments were two men who have done harm won Senate seats – Ted Cruz and Rick Scott. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another area worth highlighting (and my apologies if you already covered this) is the state legislatures. A number of legislatures went blue, including the senate in my home state of New York. The importance of this can’t be overstated. My apologies if you already posted about this.

    (Though I agree…the referrendums are important.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are quite right, and no, I had not written about the state legislatures at all. They are indeed important … I’m just stretched too thin these days to get to it all, so thank you for the reminder and the info. I thought NY was already blue? Obviously I haven’t paid enough attention! 😉 Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome!

        The NY Assembly is blue. The NY State Senate, though, is…well… complicated. Let’s just say that in recent years it has had dynamics such as Democrats caucusing with Republicans (aka the Independent Democratic Conference) and a Democratic senator caucusing with Republicans. These dynamics led to a functional fusion of Republicans, IDC, and this one person for the majority. Then the IDC came back to the mainline Dems (only for all but two of them to lose on primary night) but this other senator still gave Republicans the majority. But on Tuesday, Democrats won enough seats that they now have the majority, and a majority by a wide margin (they will likely have 39 seats to 24 for Republicans; they flipped 8 seats which is highly unusual).

        Phew! New York State politics are exhausting, complicated, and messed up. Feel free to ask if you have questions.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Does the NRA have to stick its nose into everything just to “prove” how gun-crazy it is? Jeez!

    IMO, the “trigger lock” just makes good common sense. Yes, I know. Self-protection is the name of the game to these gun-nuts. But truly … what are the odds of someone breaking into your house and threatening to harm you or your family? Much more prevalent are the children who get ahold of the easily available firearms and shoot someone accidentally.

    Of course the gun people always have a ready answer because, well, after all … The Second Amendment!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The NRA … funny thing about them … they first started out as a good organization, supporting training and firearm safety. But then … the arms manufacturers like Smith & Wesson, Glock and the rest got their greedy claws into it and for years now they have been, in my book, among the most evil organizations in the U.S. The U.S. laxity of gun laws is abominable … ask any of our friends across the pond, for their jaws drop when they hear that it is easier to get a gun than a driver’s license in this country. Sigh. Do you realize that since the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting on 10/27, there have been 11 other mass shootings in this country??? And nobody even noticed until yesterday when the number got large enough for people to take note. But no, no, no … we shouldn’t restrict guns, we need more! The answer to a bad guy with a gun, after all, is another bad guy with a gun!!!

      Whew … sorry … this is my pet peeve! I hate guns, hate the second amendment, and despise the NRA!

      Liked by 1 person

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