Voters Sign Off on Legal Cannabis, Wage Hikes, Wealth Tax (1)

  • Abortion rights win; Massachusetts millionaires face new tax
  • Proposals to legalize pot defeated in Arkansas, North Dakota

(Updates with Massachusetts wealth tax and other results.)

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Voters said yes to raising the wages of some low-income workers, making the Massachusetts wealthy pay more taxes, and keeping abortion legal in multiple states as the midterm election settled hundreds of state policy questions.

In California, voters rejected online gambling after an ad barrage that made that initiative campaign the most expensive in the country.

Voters in Nebraska and Nevada agreed to higher minimum wages. Of five states with marijuana legalization on the ballot, Missouri (Amendment 3) and Maryland voters (Question 4) said yes while initiatives failed in Arkansas (Issue 4), North Dakota, and South Dakota (Initiated Measure 27).


Abortion access was on the ballot for nearly 56 million Americans, testing sentiment just months after the US Supreme Court threw out the Roe v Wade precedent.

In Kentucky, voters rejected a proposal to expressly deny a constitutional right to an abortion (Amendment 2). In Montana an effort to require medical care if infants are born alive after an attempted abortion, Cesarean section, or labor induction (Legislative Referendum 131) was narrowly failing, 52% to 48%, in incomplete returns.

The results continued the dynamic demonstrated in Kansas in August, where voters defeated another anti-abortion ballot measure.

Those contests was being closely watched for indications of an “abortion ticket-split” dynamic in states that generally elect Republicans to office, conservative focus group consultant Sarah Longwell said. “People will overwhelmingly vote to preserve abortion rights and abortion access,” she said. “Where it gets more complicated is where people focus on a variety of things and competing interests.”

Voters agreed to amend Vermont’s Constitution to add a right to abortion (Second Question). A similar measure (Proposal 3) prevailed in Michigan, and California’s proposed constitutional amendment (Proposition 1) declaring a fundamental right to an abortion and to contraceptives captured 65% of the vote. Abortion also drove the debate in Alaska as voters rejected holding a constitutional convention.

Read more: Abortion Access Wins Voter Support Even in Republican Kentucky


Massachusetts community groups and labor unions won their drive to get millionaires to pay an additional 4% tax to pay for education and transportation projects (Question 1).

However, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) got his way when voters rejected a measure in that state to further tax those making over $2 million (Proposition 30) to raise money for fighting wildfires and building electric vehicle infrastructure. Almost 58% of voters chose no on the question.

That effort had been supported by the rideshare company Lyft Inc.

In Colorado, 55% of voters backed an effort to limit tax deductions (Proposition FF). Nearly two-thirds of voters also backed a measure to reduce the state income tax rate to 4.4% from 4.55% (Proposition 121).

Read more: Millionaires to Pay Higher State Income Taxes in Massachusetts


Voters in Nebraska agreed to gradually increase the $9-an-hour minimum wage to $15 by 2026 (Initiative 433), while the District of Columbia’s minimum wage (Initiative 82) will rise to $16.10 per hour by 2027, up from the current $5.35 an hour for tipped employees.

In Nevada, voters were asked (Question 2) whether to amend the state Constitution to increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2024, and end a system of differing minimum-wage rates depending on whether employees are offered health benefits. The yes votes were ahead 54% to 46% in incomplete returns, according to the Associated Press.

Voters in Tennessee agreed to a bid to make sure union membership can never be required as a condition of employment (Constitutional Amendment 1), while Illinois voters agreed to create a constitutional right to collectively bargain and to be represented by a union (Amendment 1).


Louisiana voters turned down a ballot question that asked, “Do you support an amendment to prohibit the use of involuntary servitude except as it applies to the otherwise lawful administration of criminal justice?” (Amendment 7). The sponsor of that measure, State Rep. Edmond Jordan (D), said the wording caused confusion and asked voters to reject the amendment, saying he would write a different version to go before voters in a future election.

Meanwhile, 89% of Vermont voters approved a proposed constitutional amendment (Proposal 2) to prohibit “slavery and indentured servitude in any form”. And nearly 80% of Tennesseeans agreed to remove from that Constitution language permitting the involuntary servitude of those found guilty of crimes (Constitutional Amendment 3).

Alabama voters agreed to repeal part of the state Constitution allowing involuntary servitude “for the punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted” (Recompiled Constitutional Ratification Question). The proposed changes also include deleting this language: “The Legislature shall never pass any law to authorize or legalize any marriage between any white person and a Negro, or descendant of a negro.”

In Oregon, voters also backed Measure 112 that would remove an exception for criminal servitude.

Other Issues

Firearms were also on the ballot, with almost two-thirds of Iowa voters agreeing to a Proposed Constitutional Amendment on the right to own and carry firearms. In Oregon, the question to ban magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition and establish stringent restrictions on firearms purchases was too close to call as of Wednesday afternoon, with the yes votes leading by just over 20,000 votes (Measure 114).

South Dakota voted to join 38 states and the District of Columbia in expanding eligibility for Medicaid since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (Measure D).

With assistance from Alex Ebert and Jennifer Kay

To contact the reporter on this story: Tiffany Stecker in Sacramento, Calif. at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at; Robin Meszoly at; Bennett Roth at; Anna Yukhananov at

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