Like me, you probably didn’t get much sleep last night. Instead, you watched votes pour in across the United States and learned what it’s like everyday for people who live with anxiety disorders.
And believe me, I know it’s not looking good unless you’re into spray tan and tiki torches. But it’s not all bad news, and it’s not over til it’s over. So while we wait to see whether mail-in ballots get counted or tossed, and results get finalized, here’s a selection of good news from state-level ballot measures:
I Prefer ‘They’.
Utah voted to replace gendered language in its state constitution with gender-neutral language.
Love is Love.
Nevada will now recognize marriage as ‘between couples regardless of gender’, but religious organizations and clergypersons can refuse to solemnize a marriage.
Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota voted to legalize recreational marijuana for individuals 21 years or older. Mississippi voted for medical marijuana.
Oregon went a step further, legalizing the use of psilocybin (21 and up, administered by licensed service providers) and reclassifying drug possession offenses to lesser violations ‘resulting in a $100 fine or a completed health assessment’.
And Washington D.C. overwhelmingly supported an initiative which ‘supports police treating the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession and use of entheogenic plants and fungi among the lowest law enforcement priorities’. This isn’t the same as decriminalization or legalization, but it’s a step in that direction.
Rising Wages and Benefits.
Florida voters approved a minimum wage increase to $10 an hour, with a $1 an hour increase every year until it reaches $15 an hour, at which point it will revert to being adjusted annually for inflation. Or, in other words, stagnation. Probably.
Meanwhile, Colorado employees will be getting access to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, ‘funded through a payroll tax paid by employers and employees in a 50/50 split’. They’re also adding four weeks of leave for pregnancy or childbirth complications.
Drawing the Line on Gerrymandering.
Virginia has approved a ballot measure which ‘moves the drawing of the state’s congressional and legislative districts from the state legislature to a redistricting commission composed of state legislators and citizens.’
And in other election process news, Colorado voted to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. If adopted by enough states, it would change the notorious electoral college to give state electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote.
Finally, California voted to restore voting rights to former felons upon completion of their prison terms.
Enough is Enough.
Arkansas voted to impose term limits of 12 consecutive years for state legislators. They can run for election again after a 4 year break. Kind of like when Putin let Medvedev pretend to run Russia for a few years, except this is more likely to allows for fresh blood to circulate through legislative bodies.
Bone Up On…Well, Boning.
Washington (the state) passed a measure providing ‘comprehensive sexual health education for all students’, though it does require that students be excused if requested by parents.
Why Do We Even Still Have This?
Utah overwhelmingly supported striking language from its state constitution which allowed the ‘use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments’. So did Nebraska.
But my emails…
Michigan police will now need a search warrant to access a person’s electronic data and electronic communications.
Bury the Coal.
Nevada approved a measure requiring electric utility companies to acquire 50% of their electricity from renewable resources by 2030. It’s too little, too late, but does demonstrate a changing public opinion. So there’s that.
Can’t Buy Me Love.
Oregon also approved a measure to authorize the state legislature and local governments to limit political contributions and expenditures.
Speaking of unscrupulous finance practices, Nebraska voted to limit the annual interest charged for delayed deposit services, or payday loans. The cap is still an exorbitant 36%, but it’s a start.
While all this may feel trivial compared to whether or not Trump gets another four years to stir the pot, I promise it isn’t. Ballot measures like these demonstrate a changing tide in public opinion. And eventually, those changing minds will get fed up of the GOP’s tactics and policies. They’re on borrowed time, and they know it. That’s why their strategy is voter suppression, and the Democratic strategy is simply…to vote.
I don’t often write about politics, but I have dipped my toes in before: