Policymaking News

United States: Races, Ballot Measures Decided
November 09, 2016

On November 8, state legislative elections were held in 44 states and the District of Columbia, as well as gubernatorial elections in 12 states. Voters also elected Donald J. Trump of New York over Hillary R. Clinton of New York as the 45th president and the GOP retained control for the 115th Congress.

GOVERNORS:  This year, 12 governorships were decided.The Democrats retained five governorships: John Carney (DE), Steve Bullock (MT), Kate Brown (OR), Jay Inslee (WA), and Jim Justice (WV). The GOP retained three: Eric Holcomb (IN), Doug Burgum (ND), and Gary Herbert (UT), while picking up three: Eric Greitens (MO), Chris Sununu (NH), and Phil Scott (VT).

The race in North Carolina between Pat McCrory (R) and Roy Cooper (D), in which Cooper currently leads, is headed to a November 18 recount.

LEGISLATURES: Forty-four states held legislative elections this year. Before the elections, Democrats controlled 30 chambers, while the GOP controlled 68. Nebraska has an officially nonpartisan and unicameral legislature.

Three chambers switched to GOP control: the Kentucky House, the Iowa Senate, and the Minnesota Senate. The Democrats gained control of four chambers: The New Mexico House, both chambers of the Nevada Legislature and the Washington Senate (although functional control remains with the Republicans due to a Democrat who caucuses with them). The Connecticut Senate will be tied for 2017.

BALLOT MEASURES:  Several states had over 150 total policy questions on their ballots this year.

Marijuana: California, Nevada and Massachusetts approved measures legalized the recreational use of marijuana, while Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota will now allow it for medical purposes. A recreational marijuana proposal lost in Arizona. (it’s important to note that marijuana remains on the federal prohibited controlled substance schedule)

Firearms: Voters in California approved measures to prohibit possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, require permits for ammunition purchases, and extend a program to allow seizure of firearms from owners who are no longer allowed to own them. Washington also approved a measure to allow judges to seize firearms from those they deem a threat. A measure to generally require background checks was approved in Nevada but defeated in Maine.

Minimum Wage: Arizona, Colorado, and Maine approved a phased-in $12 minimum wage by 2020. In Washington, where the minimum wage is $9.47 an hour, voters approved a measure raising the minimum wage from $9.47 per hour to $13.50 an hour by 2020.

Other: Nebraska has reinstated the death penalty. Colorado approved a physician assisted suicide measure for a terminally ill person. Voters in the state however defeated a proposal to establish the nation’s first universal health care system.

For more detailed information on the state elections and ballot measures, StateScape recommends the following source:

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