Casinos, pot, secession among ballot measures across nation
Voters faced ballot measures Tuesday including whether to approve seven casinos in New York and the fate of Houston’s iconic Astrodome. Some of the questions:
COLORADO: Voters approved a 25 percent tax on newly legal recreational marijuana to fund school construction. Opponents argued the tax rate would benefit black market sales.
MAINE: Voters in Portland, Maine’s largest city, declared victory on a measure to legalize possession of recreational amounts of marijuana.
MICHIGAN: Voters in the cities of Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing approved proposals offering some legal protection to users of small amounts of marijuana.
UTAH: Residents in Hyde Park voted to allow beer sales in a proposal that divided the conservative, mostly Mormon city, which had been one of a handful of dry towns left in the state. The ordinance, which passed with 64 percent of the vote, only allows the sale of beer with the alcohol content of 3.2 percent.
COLORADO: Eleven rural Colorado counties delivered a divided vote on an effort to form a 51st state called North Colorado. Six counties voted against the idea — including Weld County, whose commissioners spearheaded the effort, citing frustration with the Democrat-led state government that they claim neglects rural interests. Five counties voted for it.
NEW YORK: New York voters bet big on casino gambling as an economic energy shot, agreeing to let seven Las Vegas-style gambling palaces be built around the state, including eventually in New York City.
MASSACHUSETTS: Voters in Palmer rejected Mohegan Sun’s plan for a $1 billion resort casino and entertainment complex. And Suffolk Downs says it will reassess plans to build a resort casino at the 78-year-old thoroughbred race track after voters in a Boston neighborhood rejected its proposal and residents of a neighboring community approved it.
WASHINGTON STATE: Early returns showed voters in the small Seattle suburb of SeaTac were passing a measure that would raise the minimum wage for workers at Seattle-Tacoma Airport and nearby large hotels to $15 an hour. Washington state already has the highest minimum wage at $9.19. Washington has a vote-by-mail system in which ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, so more are left to count.
NEW JERSEY: Voters approved a constitutional amendment raising the state’s minimum wage by $1, to $8.25 an hour, and to provide for automatic cost-of-living increases, as 10 other states already do.
MAINE: Residents of South Portland rejected a proposal aimed at blocking the flow of tar sands oil from western Canada to the city. Environmentalists say the thick, gooey oil is more difficult to clean up than conventional crude oil, contains harmful chemicals and releases more greenhouse gases. Supporters of a pipeline say a ban would hamper the growth of existing petroleum-based businesses.
WASHINGTON STATE: A measure that would require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods was failing with more than 980,000 ballots counted in unofficial returns. Washington would be the first state to put such requirements in place, and the campaign has shaped up to be one of the costliest in state history. Washington has a vote-by-mail system in which ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, so more are left to count.
MICHIGAN: Residents of the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak approved an ordinance making it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and a number of other factors.
COLORADO: A kindergarten-through-12th-grade school-finance overhaul was rejected; it would have increased income taxes about $1 billion a year and revived a progressive income tax structure abandoned in the 1980s.