With the midterm elections a few weeks away, the media, political pundits, and pollsters are analyzing the latest data to gain insight on which party will control the US House and Senate come November 9.
All the focus is on federal races, but Americans can arguably make a bigger difference in their communities through state elections and ballot measures—or a way that citizens can create, amend, or repeal a state law or constitutional provision by collecting enough signatures from registered voters.
Here are five ballot measures to watch as millions of Americans head to the polls on November 8, 2022.
Several states, including Iowa, Mississippi, Georgia, Arizona, and Idaho, have lowered their income tax rate this year—allowing voters to keep more of their paychecks and better cope with the rising cost of living. On November 8, Colorado voters will have the opportunity to reduce their income tax through Proposition 121.
The measure, if adopted by voters, would lower the income tax rate from 4.55 percent to 4.4 percent. State analysists note the proposal would save each Colorado taxpayer about $120 per year.
The Independence Institute, a state think tank in Denver, put Prop 121 on the ballot as part of a broader effort to eliminate Colorado’s income tax completely. Through op-eds, research, blog posts, and other outreach, the Institute is educating voters on the benefits of reducing the state’s income tax. The Institute has been highlighting how Prop 121 will help Coloradoans control more of their own money at a time when prices for groceries, gas, rent, and electricity have reached a 40-year high.
Ben Murrey, the director of fiscal policy at the Independence Institute, added: “What we’re trying to do here is let Colorado workers, especially in this time of record inflation, keep a little bit more of their own money.”
Amendment 1 is a constitutional amendment on the ballot in Illinois that could bring unlimited union leader power and future tax hikes to the Prairie State. For more than a year, the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute has been highlighting the devastating consequences Amendment 1 will have on Illinois if the measure is adopted. As Illinois Policy pointed out:
“Specifically, Amendment 1 would place four distinct labor provisions in the Illinois constitution: 1) a ‘fundamental right’ to organize and bargain; 2) the right to bargain over wages, hours, working conditions, economic welfare and safety at work—i.e., virtually anything; 3) a prohibition forbidding lawmakers from ever interfering with, negating or diminishing those rights; and 4) a prohibition against right-to-work laws.”
“Amendment 1 would lead to the most extreme government union leader power in the nation, as 28 state constitutions don’t even mention labor issues,” said Mailee Smith, director of labor policy for Illinois Policy Institute.
Illinois Policy Institute President Matt Paprocki added in a recent piece for National Review, “the proposal would give public-sector unions a ‘fundamental right’ to collectively bargain on issues even beyond wages and benefits, such as affordable housing and restorative justice. The more issues for unions to bargain over and the longer negotiations take, the greater the cost to taxpayers—and the higher their property-tax bills.”
As Colorado voters decide whether to lower the income tax, voters across the country in Massachusetts will consider an amendment to raise the income tax. Massachusetts Question 1 is a proposed Constitutional amendment to raise a series of taxes by four percent when annual household (including business) income exceeds $1 million. If adopted, this measure would enact the largest tax hike in state history.
Massachusetts lawmakers voted in June 2021 to put this tax increase on the November ballot—despite the fact the state is sitting on a $2.3 billion revenue surplus this year. If the proposal is adopted, it would remove the state’s flat-tax rate enshrined in the state constitution.
The Pioneer Institute, a state think tank in Boston, has been hard at work educating residents in their state about the amendment so voters can make an informed decision come November 8. In fact, Pioneer published a book on the topic in April 2021. In Back to TAXachusetts?, Pioneer points out the tax mainly impacts retirees and small business owners—not “millionaires”; the tax would chase talent and money from the Bay State; and the tax would devastate the economy.
Michigan residents will decide the fate of Proposal 1, a constitutional amendment that will end the separate term limits on the Michigan House and Senate and instead put a 12-year cap on the total amount of time that could be served in the Legislature. In addition, if the proposal is adopted, it will require elected state legislative and state executive officials to file annual financial disclosure reports on their income.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a think tank in Midland, Michigan, released a report on Proposal 1 that weighs the pros and cons of the measure. The report does not take a stance on the constitutional amendment, but instead considers how it would impact legislators and their constituents.
“This brief answers questions that voters will likely have about this proposal,” said James Hohman, director of fiscal policy and author of the report. “Voters ought to ask whether the likelihood of longer service for their lawmakers will help ensure that they better reflect the will of constituents.”
Twenty-seven states have right-to-work laws on the books, which state no person should have to join a union or pay union dues in order to have or keep a job. Tennessee is one of those 27 states, but all it takes is a simple majority to remove its right-to-work law.
That’s why, in last year’s legislative session, the Tennessee Legislature adopted a resolution that protects right-to-work in the state constitution. The resolution, also called Amendment 1, now heads to voters through a ballot question on November 8. If Tennessee voters adopt this amendment, it will be illegal for employers to require a worker to join a union as a condition of employment.
The Beacon Center of Tennessee, a nonpartisan organization in Nashville, played a pivotal role in placing this proposal on the statewide ballot. Beacon has been reiterating to Tennesseans why right-to-work is so important. Justin Owen, CEO of the Beacon Center, added:
“Right-to-work states have higher income growth, employment growth, and population growth. It’s paramount that we recognize the role right-to-work has played in Tennessee’s economic success story by ensuring that this Tennessee tradition continues into the future.”
If you are a Network organization working to educate voters about a ballot initiative in your state and would like your efforts highlighted in this piece, please reach out to Camille Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2022 Ballot Measures