Marijuana, Abortion and a 'Right to Hunt': Top 2010 Ballot Measures

Voters in 37 states will decide on a diverse mix of 160 ballot measures.

ByDevin Dwyer
November 01, 2010, 6:51 PM

Nov. 2, 2010— -- Voters in 37 states today will decide on a diverse mix of ballot measures that focus predominantly on fiscal policies and less on the hot-button social issues that have grabbed headlines in recent elections.

Among the 160 initiatives facing a popular up-or-down vote are attempts to ban government borrowing for public works projects in Colorado; cap property tax rates in Indiana; and slash the state sales tax by more than half in Massachusetts.

In Washington State, two initiatives would overturn the legislature's move to make tax increases easier by simple majority vote, by re-imposing a two-thirds requirement and reversing tax hikes passed earlier this year.

But in a handful of states, voters could take more controversial steps: to legalize marijuana; define a human embryo as a "person"; or establish a commission to gather evidence of extraterrestrial life.

2010 Election Maps: Follow the Senate, House and Governors' Races

Here's a look at some of the noteworthy ballot measures this year:

California could become the first state to fully legalize the cultivation, possession and transportation of marijuana, albeit a small amount (one ounce), if Proposition 19 is approved. Meanwhile, Oregon, Arizona and South Dakota could join 14 other states that allow medical use of marijuana.

Two years after Coloradoans rejected an indirect attempt to illegalize abortion by redefining a human embryo as a "person," the proposed amendment to the state constitution is back on the ballot.

The "Fetal Personhood" Amendment 62 would define "person" to include every human being from "the beginning of the biological development of that human being," or conception.

Health Care Mandate

Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma could approve state constitutional amendments to block enforcement of federal health care law mandates and allow individuals and businesses to choose whether to have or provide health insurance.

The second amendment bestows a right to bear arms, but in several southern states, from South Carolina to Arizona, ballot measures this year would specify a state constitutional right to hunt and fish.

California's Proposition 23 would suspend the state's Global Warming Act of 2006, which set stiff greenhouse gas emissions caps, until unemployment in the state drops to 5.5 percent or below, for four consecutive quarters.

Outgoing Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a mix of high-profile celebrities and business leaders like Bill Gates and Google's Sergey Brin, have opposed the measure. The major oil companies support the proposition to suspend the law.

Rhode Island voters will decide whether to change their state's lengthy formal name – Rhode Island and Providence Plantations -- to the abbreviated version as it's now commonly known: simply, Rhode Island.

An Oklahoma ballot measure would prohibit state courts from considering Islamic Sharia law, or international law, when deciding cases.

Arizona voters could ban preferential treatment, also known as affirmative action, for minority applicants for state jobs. if voters approve Proposition 107.

Californians approved a recall in 2003 to oust then Gov. Gray Davis. Now some Illinois voters, weathered by scandals of the Rod Blagojavich administration, want the power to boot their governor, too. A proposed constitutional amendment would establish the right to recall a governor.

Denver's Initiative 300 would establish an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission responsible for collecting and sharing evidence that extraterrestrials are visiting Earth, and for assessing the risks and benefits of making contact with those aliens.

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