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Beyond the election, state and local ballot measures also up for a vote this November

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    Beyond the election, state and local ballot measures also up for a vote this November

    state and local ballot measures are key to county governance

    Despite the large focus on the candidates during this election, public policy is also on the ballot. According to the University of Virginia Center for Politics, 120 statewide ballot measures are up for a vote this year.[i] Local governments, including counties, cities, special districts and other forms, also use ballot measures to advance local policy. According to Ballotpedia, “In the United States, a ballot measure is a law, issue, or question that appears on a state or local ballot for voters to decide.”[ii] These ballot measures are brought forth through various channels, but the public ultimately decides whether or not the measure passes.

    As with any year, the ballot measures in November 2020 cover a wide breadth of policy important to local communities. A few areas of interest for counties include property taxes, broadband access, health and human services and measures which further define local authorities. NACo, using Ballotpedia and other sources, has compiled a non–comprehensive list of a few key ballot measures up for a vote during the November 3rd general election contest.

    Property Tax

    • St. Louis City, Mo. measure authorizing an additional property tax of $60 per $100,000 in assessed value
      • APPROVED – 71,532 / 56.13% to 55,903 / 43.87%
    • Guilford County, N.C. measure authorizing the county to issue up to $300 M in bonds for school facilities and to levy property taxes to repay the debt
      • APPROVED – 194,319 / 72.50% to 73,713 / 27.50%
    • Multnomah County, Ore. measure authorizing the issuance of $387 M in bonds for library renovations, imposing a property tax of $61 per $100,000 assessed value to repay
      • APPROVED – 258,010 / 59.72% to 174,009 / 40.28%
    • California measure to shift more property tax burden onto commercial property taxpayers
      • DEFEATED – 7,312,019 / 51.86% to 6,787,268 / 48.14%
    • Colorado measure to prevent residential taxpayers from receiving additional disproportionate property tax relief
      • APPROVED – 1,679,125 / 57.39% to 1,246,787 / 42.61%
    • Louisiana measure allowing local governments the authority to allow new or expanding manufacturers to submit payments in lieu of property taxes
      • DEFEATED – 1,221,197 / 62.67% to 727,344 / 37.33%
    • Montgomery County, Md. measure to remove an existing cap on the overall amount of property tax revenue the county can collect in favor of an annual cap on property tax rates
      • APPROVED – More Info
    • Maui County, Hawaii measure to require that a minimum percentage of the certified real property tax revenues be appropriated into an affordable housing fund, and to increase the minimum required percentage from 2 percent to 3 percent
      • APPROVED – 37,570 / 52.5% to 29,076 / 40.6%
    • Broomfield City & County, Colo. measure to increase the mill levy (stemming from state forecasts on decreased residential assessment rates)
      • UNKNOWN OUTCOME
    • Louisiana measure to allow the presence or production of oil or gas to be considered when assessing the fair market value of an oil or gas well for ad valorem property tax purposes
      • APPROVED – 1,158,709 / 58.34% to 827,491 / 41.66%

    Broadband

    • Maine measure to authorize the sale of $15 M in bonds for high–speed internet infrastructure
      • APPROVED – 234,932 / 75.24% to 77,325 / 24.76%
    • Denver City & County, Colo. measure to authorize the city to provide internet, telephone and television services
      • APPROVED – 268,633  / 82.56% to 56,758 / 17.44%
    • St. Louis City, Mo. measure authorizing a 7.5% gross receipts tax on telecommunications providers and fiber network providers not subject to franchise fees
      • DEFEATED – 73,983 59.89%  to  49,549 / 40.11%

    Health and Human Services

    • Franklin County, Ohio measure authorizing the county to renew and increase a tax to fund programs for mental health, alcohol and drug addiction at a rate of $285 per $100,000 of assessed property
      • APPROVED – 410,038 / 70.51% to 171,482 / 29.49%
    • Lucas County, Ohio measure renewing the property tax to fund Luca County Children’s Services
      • APPROVED – 133,166 / 70.29% to 56,278  29.71%
    • Multnomah County, Ore. measure establishing a tuition–free preschool program by imposing an additional income tax based on household income
      • APPROVED – 278,533 / 64.14% to 155,720 / 35.86%
    • King County, Wash. measure authorizing the issuance of $1.7 B in bonds for renovations and improvements to the Harborview Medical Center, also authorizes the county to impose a tax to repay the bonds
      • APPROVED – 850,167 / 76.48% to 261,418 / 23.52%
    • DuPage County, Ill. measure to stockpile personal protective equipment for distribution
      • APPROVED – 387,474 / 89.18% to 46,993 / 10.82%
    • Prince George’s County, Md. measure to issue $133 M in bonds for county buildings, including the construction of a new mental health and addiction care facility
      • UNKNOWN OUTCOME

    Local Government Authority

    • Montana measure to remove local governments’ authority to regulate firearms, including concealed carry regulation
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Oregon measure allowing state and local governments to enact laws or ordinances limiting campaign contributions, require disclosure of contributions and expenditures and require political advertisements to identify the financial sponsor
      • APPROVED – 1,717,272 / 78.43% to 472,231 / 21.57%
    • King County, Wash. measure to remove a restriction on the county’s authority to transfer, sell or lease real property for less than fair market value when used for affordable housing
      • APPROVED – 755,535 / 68.86% to 341,697 / 31.14%
    • King County, Wash. measure authorizing the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight to subpoena witnesses, documents and other evidence in its investigations
      • APPROVED – 900,165 / 81.66% to 202,148 / 18.34%
    • King County, Wash. measure allowing county council the authority to specify the duties of the sheriff, rather than relying on state law
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • King County, Wash. measure returning the office of the sheriff from elected to appointed by the county executive and confirmed by the county council
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Placer County, Calif. measure amending the county charter to give the County Executive Officer the authority to appoint, suspend and remove department heads
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Georgia measure to allow residents to seek declaratory relief from state or local laws that violate the state constitution or state law
      • APPROVED – 3,480,956 / 74.41% to 1,197,177 / 25.59%
    • Denver City & County, Colo. measure to amend the city charter allowing the city council to procure professional services and hire staff without approval from the mayor or executive branch
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Miami Dade County, Fla. measure amending the county charter to create an office of the independent inspector general
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Miami Dade County, Fla. measure amending the county charter to establish parameters for filling a vacancy for a mayor or county commission member
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Anne Arundel County, Md. measure to strengthen the power of the county auditor to investigate county financial records
      • UNKNOWN OUTCOME
    • Michigan measure to revise the formula on how state and local park funds from trusts can be spent
      • APPROVED – 4,138,940 / 84.28% to 771,808 / 15.72%

    Sales Tax

    • Arkansas measure to continue a .5 percent sales tax for transportation
      • APPROVED – 653,706 / 55.28% to 528,816 / 44.72%
    • Alameda County, Calif. measure authorizing an extension of a 6.5% sales tax until June 30, 2033, for unincorporated areas
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Alameda County, Calif. measure authorizing an additional sales tax of .5% for 10 years for county services
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Contra Costa, Calif. measure authorizing an increase in sales tax from 8.25% to 8.75%
      • APPROVED – 198,964 / 58.70% to 140,011 / 41.30%
    • Del Norte County, Calif. measure authorizing an increase in sales tax from 7.5% to 8.5%
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Mariposa County, Calif. measure authorizing additional sales tax of 1%
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Sonoma County, Calif. measure authorizing an extension of a .25% sales tax
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Sonoma County, Calif. measure authorizing an additional sales tax of .25% for 10 years
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Denver City & County, Colo. two measures both authorizing a levy of an additional .25% sales tax each to fund environmental and climate–related programs and TABOR spending limit increase
      • APPROVED – 210,175 / 62.99%  to  123,491 / 37.01%
    • Denver City & County, Colo. two measures both authorizing a levy of an additional .25% sales tax each to fund housing, homeless services and TABOR spending limit increase
      • APPROVED – 212,451 / 63.55% to 121,852 / 36.45%
    • Duval County, Fla. measure authorizing the school board to raise the sales tax from 7% to 7.5%
      • APPROVED – 315,849 / 67.30% to 153,490 / 32.70%
    • King County, Wash. measure to renew a sales tax for six years, and increase the tax, to fund transit projects
      • APPROVED – 325,886 / 80.45% to 79,206 / 19.55%
    • Gwinnett County, Ga. measure for a one percent sales tax increase for a period of up to 30 years to fund a transit plan
      • UNKNOWN OUTCOME

    Finance

    • San Francisco City & County, Calif. measure authorizing the city to issue $487.5 M in bonds to invest in housing facilities, shelters and other facilities for those experiencing homelessness, mental health challenges or substance use; also for use in improving the safety and quality of parks, streets and requiring a property tax levy of $14 per $100,000
      • APPROVED – 252,986 / 70.74% to 104,666 / 29.26%
    • Baltimore City, Md. measure issuing $12 M in bonds for affordable housing imitative
      • APPROVED – 155,045 / 86.12% to 24,991 / 13.88%
    • Baltimore City, Md. measure issuing $38 M in bonds for school construction and improvements
      • APPROVED – 162,746 / 89.21% to 19,689 / 10.79%
    • Baltimore City, Md. measure issuing $38 M in bonds for community and economic development programs
      • APPROVED – 152,760 / 85.88% to 25,107 / 14.12%
    • Baltimore City, Md. measure issuing $72 M in bonds for public buildings, structures and facilities
      • APPROVED – 155,603 / 87.42% to 22,395 / 12.58%
    • Baltimore City, Md. measure allowing the city council to reduce and increase spending in the city budget as long as additions do not exceed reductions
      • APPROVED – 126,182 / 75.18% to 41,659 / 24.82%

    Other

    • Franklin County & Lauderdale County, Ala. each have ballot measures to support amending the Alabama Constitution to allow for a stand your ground law for individuals in churches in their counties
      • UNKNOWN OUTCOME
    • Arizona measure to increase the tax on incomes exceeding $250,000 to fund teacher salaries and schools
      • APPROVED – 1,647,576 / 51.77% to 1,534,876 / 48.23%
    • Florida measure to allow a homestead property tax discount to be transferred to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran
      • APPROVED – 9,304,375 / 89.73% to 1,065,197 / 10.27%
    • Maine measure authorizing $105 M in bonds for transportation infrastructure projects [approved]
      • APPROVED – 248,056 / 78.99% to 65,975 / 21.01%
    • Calaveras County, Calif. measure establishing a maximum marijuana activities tax
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Humboldt County, Calif. measure authorizing the development of affordable housing for low income families in unincorporated areas
      • APPROVED – 14,967 / 67.96% to 7,057 / 32.04%
    • Los Angeles County, Calif. measure amending the county charter requiring a minimum of 10% of general funds be allocated to community programs and alternatives to incarceration
      • APPROVED – 1,855,552 / 56.83% to 1,409,391 / 43.17%
    • Madera County, Calif. measure authorizing a 6% tax on marijuana retail businesses and a 4% tax on other marijuana businesses, as well as a $10 per square foot tax on cultivation
      • APPROVED – 9,996 / 67.37% to 4,841 / 32.63%
    • Placer County, Calif. measure amending the functions and duties of the civil service commission to hear employee complaints, disciplinary appeals and other employee hearings
      • APPROVED – 97,934 / 70.44% to 41,101 / 29.56%
    • Placer County, Calif. measure amending the county charter to remove bid threshold requirements that contradict state law
      • APPROVED – 93,160 /68.32% to 43,198 / 31.68%
    • Placer County, Calif. measure amending the county charter requiring elected officials to be county residents for the duration of their term and at least 30 days prior to nomination paper filing
      • APPROVED – 132,162 / 91.42% to 12,407 / 8.58%
    • San Benito County, Calif. measure authorizing the designation of 2,777 acres for various uses such as research, automotive testing/tracks, offices, businesses, industry, hospitals, retail and other services as well as the development of a park and 561.7 acres for agriculture
      • DEFEATED – 13,200 / 59.38% to 9,031 / 40.62%
    • San Bernardino County, Calif. measure adopting the revised charter
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • San Bernardino County, Calif. measure amending the charter to reduce the salary of members of the board of supervisors to $5,000 per month and establishing term limits to one term
      • APPROVED – 303,144 / 67.62% to 145,151 / 32.38%
    • San Francisco City & County, Calif. measure to amend the city charter to create a public works commission and a sanitation and streets commission
      • APPROVED – 217,045 / 60.71% to 140,461 / 39.29%
    • San Francisco City & County, Calif. measure to amend the city charter removing the requirement that individuals serving on city boards, commissions and advisory bodies must be US citizens and registered voters
      • APPROVED – 194,093 / 54.10% to 164,672 / 45.90%
    • San Francisco City & County, Calif. measure to amend the city and county charter to create the Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board and the Sheriff’s Department Office of Inspector General
      • APPROVED – 238,035 / 67.05% to 116,958 / 32.95%
    • San Francisco City & County, Calif. measure to amend the city charter removing the mandatory police staffing level, requiring the police department to submit a report and recommendation for police staffing levels every two years to the police commission
      • APPROVED – 258,166 / 71.70% to 101,883 / 28.30%
    • San Francisco City & County, Calif. measure amending the Business and Tax Regulations Code to eliminate the payroll expense tax, increase registration fees, increase gross receipts tax, increase administrative office tax, and place a 1 – 3.5% tax on gross receipts from commercial lease
      • APPROVED – 237,260 / 68.01% to 111,594 / 31.99%
    • San Francisco City & County, Calif. measure amending the city charter to lower the voting age to 16 for local candidates and ballot measures
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • San Francisco City & County, Calif. measure authorizing an ordinance to amend the city’s planning code to simplify business procedures
      • APPROVED – 214,445 / 61.37% to 134,977 / 38.63%
    • San Francisco City & County, Calif. measure authorizing an increase in the transfer tax rate on real estate sales and leases of 35 years or more
      • APPROVED – 203,681 / 57.82% to 148,566 / 42.18%
    • San Francisco City & County, Calif. measure authorizing the city to develop or acquire up to 10,000 units of low–income rental housing
      • APPROVED – 261,640 / 73.86% to 92,581 / 26.14%
    • San Francisco City & County, Calif. measure authorizing an additional tax on gross receipts or payroll expenses for specific business that meet payroll requirements
      • APPROVED – 230,298 / 65.01% to 123,943 / 34.99%
    • San Joaquin County, Calif. measure authorizing the county to impose a marijuana tax between 3.5% and 8% of gross receipts and $2.00 per square foot of cultivation land
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Sierra County, Calif. measure authorizing a hotel tax increase from 10% to 12.5%
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Sonoma County, Calif. measure replacing the ordinance that governs the Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach with new requirements
      • APPROVED – 126,789 / 66.50% to 63,885 / 33.50%
    • Trinity County, Calif. measure authorizing a marijuana cultivation tax
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Trinity County, Calif. measure changing the required number of directors for the board of the Coffee Creek Volunteer Fire District from nine to five
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Trinity County, Calif. measure authorizing an additional sales tax of .5% to fund local law enforcement
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Tuolumne County, Calif. measure authorizing a hotel tax increase from 10% to 12%
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Ventura County, Calif. measure authorizing marijuana cultivation and distribution with limitations of 500 acres for cultivation and 100 acres for indoor nurseries
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Denver City & County, Colo. measure amending the city charter to create a 19–member board of Transportation and Infrastructure
      • APPROVED – 242,598 / 75.50% to 78,707 / 24.50%
    • Denver City & County, Colo. measure amending the city charter to require the city council to confirm through a majority vote any mayoral appointments to select offices
      • APPROVED – 186,571 / 58.36% to 133,113 / 41.64%
    • Denver City & County, Colo. measure amending the city charter to allow the city council to initiate budget appropriations or transfer of undedicated funds with the guidance of the finance manager
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Denver City & County, Colo. measure amending the city charter to remove the requirement that the city clerk and recorder hire a director of elections and allow the city clerk to hire four employees in addition to the deputy
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Denver City & County, Colo. measure removing the city’s ban on pit bulls and implementing pit bull permit requirements
      • APPROVED – 216,742 / 65.48% to 114,281 / 34.52%
    • Jacksonville Fla. measure amending the city charter to allow the city council to appoint four of the seven members of the electric authority board (JEA), and requiring one city council appointee to be either a former JEA employee or recommended by a JEA employee
      • APPROVED – 351,349 / 77.38% to 102,728 / 22.62%
    • Miami Dade County, Fla. measure amending the charter to establish elections for select offices will be conducted in a non–partisan way with no party affiliation for candidates
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Orange County, Fla. measure to amend the charter to prohibit water pollution and provide a pathway for enforcement
      • APPROVED – 529,432 / 89.22% to 63,990 / 10.78%
    • Orange County, Fla. measure for forest land conservation amendment
      • APPROVED – 503,371 / 86.44% to 78,973 / 13.56%
    • Orange County, Fla. measure amending the charter in regards to signature petition deadlines
      • APPROVED – 314,219 / 56.14% to 245,439 / 43.86%
    • Honolulu City & County, Hawaii measure amending the city charter establishing term limits for the prosecuting attorney
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Honolulu City & County, Hawaii measure to establish a 15–member youth commission
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Honolulu City & County, Hawaii measure to allow the ethics commission control over its budget allotments after the budget is enacted
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • Honolulu City & County, Hawaii a measure authorizing the ethics commission to appoint and determine salaries for commission staff
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • DuPage County, Ill. measure advising the county to continue considering law enforcement and public safety as the top budgeting priority
      • APPROVED – 389,374 / 90.07% to 42,936 / 9.93%
    • DuPage County, Ill. measure advising the county to continue to fund and support law enforcement training methods that decrease the risk of injury to officers and suspects
      • APPROVED – 319,630 / 74.40% to 109,979 / 25.60%
    • Baltimore City, Md. measure requiring a charter revision commission to meet once every ten years to make recommendations for deletions, additions or revisions to the charter
      • APPROVED – 149,186 / 86.49% to 23,308 / 13.51%
    • Baltimore City, Md. measure to amend the number of votes needed to override a mayor’s veto from three–fourths to two–thirds of the city council
      • APPROVED – 112,788 / 67.67% to 53,892 / 32.33%
    • Baltimore City, Md. measure allowing the city council to override a veto at the next regular council meeting if no meetings are held between when the veto is presented and 20 days after
      • APPROVED – 126,478 / 75.44% to 41,175 / 24.56%
    • Baltimore City, Md. measure allowing the city council to remove council members, council president, the mayor or comptroller by a three–fourths vote
      • APPROVED – 158,889 / 91.46% to 14,841 / 8.54%
    • Baltimore City, Md. measure empowering the city auditor to issue subpoenas to any person receiving public funds (payroll)
      • APPROVED – 159,151 / 92.87% to 12,215 / 7.13%
    • Baltimore City, Md. measure establishing the position of City Administrator as the Chief Administrative Officer of Baltimore City
      • APPROVED – 130,883 / 77.56% to 37,871 / 22.44%
    • Clay County, Mo. measure adopting the county constitution
      • APPROVED – 99,892 / 81.34% to 22,911 / 18.66%
    • Jackson County, Mo. measure authorizing a fee of up to $1.00 for all subscribers to communication services that have the ability to call 9–1–1
      • APPROVED – 164,583 / 52.05% to 151,619 / 47.95%
    • Jackson County, Mo. measure for the removal of statues of Andrew Jackson
      • DEFEATED – 188,025 / 58.87% to 131,351 / 41.13%
    • St. Louis City, Mo. measure to remove the city residency requirement for employees except for agency and department directors appointed by the mayor
      • ON THE BALLOT
    • St. Louis City, Mo. measure to approve a voting initiative
      • APPROVED – 86,097 / 68.14% to 40,261 / 31.86%
    • King County, Wash. Measure requiring investigations into all police–related deaths and to provide public attorneys to represent the decedent’s family in the investigation
      • APPROVED – 889,012 / 80.46% to 215,891 / 19.54%
    • King County, Wash. measure replacing the word ‘citizen’ in the preamble of the county charter with ‘public,’ ‘member of the public’ or ‘resident’ where applicable
      • APPROVED – 734,559 / 67.06% to 360,865 / 32.94%
    • King County, Wash. measure prohibiting discrimination in county employment or contracting for family caregivers, military personnel and honorably discharged veterans
      • APPROVED – 931,733 / 84.37% to 172,593 / 15.63%
    • Florida measure requiring voters in federal, state, local or school elections to be U.S. citizens above the age of eighteen
      • APPROVED – 8,306,268 / 79.29% to 2,169,221 / 20.71%
    • Florida measure to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour through incremental increases ending in September of 2026
      • APPROVED – 6,390,807 / 60.82% to 4,117,450 / 39.18%

    County governments rely on ballot measures to garner consent from the governed on how the county conducts business, secure financing and how policy should be shaped and enacted in local communities. This method of securing public approval is vital for government–community relations and empowers communities to participate in the governance process while making residents’ voices heard. 

    Source Note and notation guide

    The ballot measures exemplified here were obtained using existing research and journalism such as Ballotpedia’s database of state and local ballot measures, the Tax Foundation and local journalism outlets. At the time of collection, many ballot measures had yet to be certified and, therefore, may not result in approval. 

    • APPROVED – indicates the measure was approved, vote counts that follow indicate the total votes for approval and defeat as well as the percentages.

    • DEFEATED – indicates the measure was not approved, vote counts that follow indicate the total votes for defeat and approval as well as the the percentages.

    • ON THE BALLOT – indicates the measure was on the ballot, but has yet to be approved or defeated.

    • UNKNOWN OUTCOME – indicates the outcome of the measure (approved, defeated or removed from ballot) has not been determined at this time.

    For more information

    Below are a few resources to obtain more information on the content and results of these ballot measures.

    • Stateside 
    • Governing 
    • Brookings 
    • Ballotpedia measures by state 
    • Ballotpedia local government measures 

    References

    [i] Louis Jacobson, University of Virginia Center for Politics, Ballot Measures: A National Rundown for 2020, available at www.centerforpolitics.org.

    [ii] Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures, available at www.ballotpedia.org.

     

    Other sources:

    Tax Foundation, Results of 2020 State and Local Tax Ballot Measures, available at www.taxfoundation.org.

    Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, available at www.ballotpedia.org.

    Ballotpedia, Local Ballot Measure Elections in 2020 available at www.ballotpedia.org.

    Jack More, WTOP News, Md. Voters Approve Budget, Gamin Ballot Questions; Voters Also Weigh in on Montgomery Co. Ballot Questions available at www.wtop.com.

    The Source Weekly – Bend, Vote Yes on 9-139 – Bonds to Renovate, Upgrade, Construct and Equip Library Facilities available at www.bendsource.com.

    Mariya Parkhomchuk and Bryce Moore, KHON 2, Here are Hawaii’s Ballot Measures Explained by County available at www.khon2.com.

    Jennifer Rios, Broomfield Enterprise, Broomfield Council Supports Nov. Ballot Measures available at www.broomfieldenterprise.com.

     

state and local ballot measures are key to county governance
2020-11-06
Blog
2020-11-12

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