Voters poised to reshape state law

Across the United States, ­millions of voters will be asked to decide the fate of more than 150 ballot measures that seek to reshape local law. Here are a few to keep an eye on.


Two states will be deciding whether to expand background checks on gun sales. Nevada and Maine have proposals to eliminate the so-called gun show loophole by requiring federal background checks on firearm sales between private parties — including at gun shows. Washington is weighing a measure to allow families or authorities to get a court order to restrict gun access when a person exhibits mental illness or indicates they may harm themselves or other people. California will decide whether background checks must be completed on large-capacity ammunition magazines. It would also require most ammunition sales be made through licensed vendors and reported to the Department of Justice.

Minimum wage

Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington will decide whether to increase the minimum wage. In Colorado, Arizona and Maine, it would increase to $12 an hour. Washington will consider a $13.75 an hour minimum wage. The federal minimum wage is $7.25. South Dakota is seeking to reduce its minimum wage for workers under 18 from $8.55 to $7.25 an hour.


Five states — California, Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine — will decide on recreational use of marijuana while Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota and Montana will vote on the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes.


Missouri and Colorado voters will vote on whether to increase taxes on tobacco products. Colorado smokers would see a price hike on a pack of cigarettes by $1.75 while Missouri would see an increase of 23 cents per pack. In California, voters will decide whether to raise the cigarette tax by $2 per pack.

Death penalty

Nebraska continues to grapple with the issue after lawmakers banned capital punishment when they passed a bill last year and then had to override Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto. A proposal was put on the ballot this year to reinstate the death penalty. California has two death penalty measures on the ballot: One seeks to repeal capital punishment while the other modifies the existing structure by placing a five-year limit on the appeals process for a person sentenced to death, and having trial courts handle initial appeals. Because the measures offer opposite solutions, if both were to pass, the one with the highest vote total would become law. Oklahoma voters will decide on amending the state constitution to carry out the death penalty by other means if one method is deemed invalid.

Health and related issues

Colorado is considering a ballot measure that echoes California and Oregon's right-to-die initiatives. If passed, Colorado would join states where a terminally ill person with six months to live could obtain a lethal prescription from a willing doctor. Colorado voters may also decide to set up a health insurance system designed to cover every state resident. Called ColoradoCare, the proposed system is designed to replace private health insurance plans and would be run by a board of trustees. It wouldn't replace Medicare. A ballot measure in California also will look to tackle high prescription drug costs by not allowing state agencies to pay more than the lowest price for the same drug by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Los Angeles Times