Texans Raise Bar on Taxing Income, Tucson No on ‘Sanctuary City’

  • Vote count incomplete on Colorado sports-betting initiative
  • NYC most populous place to adopt ranked-choice voting

Texans voted to make it harder to initiate a state income tax, while the vote remained too close to call on a sports betting ballot initiative in Colorado.

Other elections around the country will result in more money for medical research in Texas and second-choice voting in future local elections in New York City. Tucson, Ariz., decided against becoming a “sanctuary city” for immigrants, and San Francisco overwhelmingly voted to keep its vaping ban.

Photo ID required voting sign
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In Texas, a constitutional amendment on the ballot as Proposition 4 was adopted with about 75% of the vote, according to unofficial returns posted on the state government’s website.

Any future legislature that wants to create a personal income tax will have to secure two-thirds support in both the state House and Senate, and put the tax question up for a statewide vote.

Texas doesn’t have an income tax, so the constitutional change makes the possibility of ever adding one even more remote. “Prop 4 helps prolong our low-tax, pro-growth expansion,” James Hines, senior vice president of the Texas Association of Business, said in an email.

At the Center for Public Policy Priorities, spokesman Oliver Bernstein agreed the effect will be felt for decades to come. “There will be more unnecessary hurdles for the next generation of Texans to overcome in order to make their own choices about how to support public services,” he said in an email.

NYC Second-Choice Voting

New York City voters have chosen to use a ranking system in future elections for mayor and other local officials.

With 91% of votes counted, about 73.5% of voters approved New York City’s Amendment 1 ballot initiative, calling for the city to switch to a ranked-choice system for all municipal primary and general elections, starting in 2021.

That system is used in Maine and 20 other cities and towns across the nation.

“Today’s vote was a tremendous victory for local reformers that campaigned to place ranked choice on the ballot in the first place, and led the effort to educate voters in coalition with other organizations on the ground,” said Rob Richie, president of FairVote, a group advocating nationwide for the adoption of ranked choice voting.

Lyft-Uber Tax

San Francisco is on track to start taxing rideshare trips.

The proposed Traffic Congestion Mitigation Tax is a compromise reached with Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. A handshake agreement last year sidestepped a more stringent proposal.

Solo riders would pay 3.25% and those in shared rides 1.5%.

The tax, opposed by the San Francisco Republican Party and San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance, also would apply to any self-driving autonomous vehicle services introduced in the future. The projected $32 million in annual proceeds would fund transit improvements and bicycle and pedestrian safety.

If voters approve the measure by the necessary two-thirds margin, it would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020, and sunset in 2045. In unofficial results with all precincts reporting, the measure had 66.66% of the vote.

Car Revenue

In vote-by-mail Washington state, a ballot measure that would cut motor vehicle registration fees and blow a multibillion-dollar hole in the state and local government transportation infrastructure budgets is leading with 55% of the vote.

But it’s too soon to call the race for Initiative 976 because hundreds of thousands of ballots are still to be counted.

If anti-tax activist Tim Eyman’s initiative prevails, governments around Washington will over the next six years lose $4.24 billion in revenue that funds highway and bridge maintenance, local transit systems and Washington State Patrol operations.

Cancer Funding

Texas voters said yes to providing an additional $3 billion to extend state research funding at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), which is on track to run out of grant money in 2021.

The institute was established in 2007 as a central repository for cancer research in the state.

Tax Limitation

Colorado voters said no to letting the state spend the money it would ordinarily be required to return to taxpayers under the state’s unique tax-and-spending limitation known as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR).

The margin was about 55% to 45%, according to unofficial results posted online by the Secretary of State’s office.

Immigrant Sanctuary

Tucson police won’t have to restrict their questioning of immigration status after city voters rejected a measure to create Arizona’s first “sanctuary city.”

The vote was a victory for groups that feared changing local police policy would draw retribution from state leaders and the federal government. Opponents point to existing policies that protect Tucson immigrants during law enforcement interactions.

“The immigrant-friendly environment that we have is not going to change,” said Larry Lucero, a retired utility executive who co-chaired a committee opposing the measure.


Voters in San Francisco gave a resounding rejection to a ballot initiative that sought to roll back a ban on e-cigarettes.

More than 80% of the votes counted so far said no, so San Francisco’s first-in-the-nation e-cigarette ban will stand.

Juul Labs Inc. spent more than $18 million to influence the outcome before dropping its support.

Meanwhile, the San Mateo County, Calif., Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to ban the sale of vaping products.

Michael Bloomberg contributed $6.5 million to the opposition campaign in San Francisco. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, is the majority owner of Bloomberg Government’s parent company.

Sports Betting

Voters in Colorado were so narrowly divided on sports betting that the ballot issue’s outcome is still too close to call.

Proposition DD would generate as much as $29 million in new tax and fee revenue starting in budget year 2020-21.

Public Campaign Financing

Albuquerque voted against boosting public financing for city elections by giving residents coupons to spend on their chosen candidates.

The measure proposing a “Democracy Dollars” program to provide voters $25 vouchers that can be redeemed by candidates who qualify for public financing pulled about 48% of the vote.

To contact the reporters on this story: Paul Stinson in Austin, Texas at pstinson@bloomberglaw.com; Tripp Baltz in Denver at abaltz@bloomberglaw.com; Brenna Goth in Phoenix at bgoth@bloomberglaw.com; Joyce E. Cutler in San Francisco at jcutler@bloomberglaw.com; Paul Shukovsky in Seattle at pshukovsky@bloomberglaw.com; Adrianne Appel in Boston at aappel@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at krizzo@bgov.com; Jeff Harrington at jharrington@bloombergtax.com