Spotlight Exclusives

Ballot Initiatives Tackle Medicaid Expansion, Minimum Wage Increases

Spotlight Staff Spotlight Staff, posted on

Voters will make decisions on an array of ballot measures next Tuesday that will impact low-income Americans, including state referendums on Medicaid expansion, raising the minimum wage, and payday lending practices.

Some of the key ballot initiatives to watch:

  • In Colorado, Proposition 111 would cap interest rates for short-term “payday” loans at 36 percent. Payday loans currently have an average interest rate of 129 percent in Colorado, often trapping borrowers in a cycle of debt. If the initiative passes, Colorado would be the 16th state, plus the District of Columbia, to limit payday loan rates.
  • In Maine, where 20 percent of the population is 65 or older, Question 1 would make home care services available to all residents at no cost, regardless of income. Adults would be eligible for the program when they need help with at least one “activity of daily living”: walking, bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, personal hygiene, and getting in or out of bed. It’s estimated that more than 21,000 people could qualify for home care services under the new policy.
  • In Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah, initiatives are on the ballot that would expand Medicaid coverage if passed. Idaho will decide Proposition 2; Nebraska will decide Initiative 427; and Utah will vote on Proposition 3.
  • In Montana, Ballot Initiative I-185 would raise taxes on all tobacco products in order to fund and extend Medicaid expansion. If the measure fails, the state’s 2015 Medicaid expansion, which has enrolled nearly 100,000 people, would expire on June 30, 2019.
  • Twenty states will be voting on election-related topics including voter identification requirements, term limits, automatic and same-day voter registration, the ability to vote after a felony conviction, the ability to run for office after a felony conviction, and ballot collection. Additionally, redistricting concerns will be on the table.
    • In North Carolina, voters will decide on an amendment requiring voters to present a photo ID in order to vote in person.
    • In Florida, Amendment 4 would automatically restore the right to vote for people with prior felony convictions (except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense) upon completion of their sentences, including prison, parole, and probation.
    • In Louisiana, Amendment 1 would disqualify felons from running for office for five years after their sentence.
  • A number of states will consider measures to cap, limit, or restrict various forms of taxes, including on groceries and services. Other initiatives concern the need to receive voter approval for the state legislature to impose, increase, or extend fuel taxes or vehicle fees in the future. Some prominent examples include:
    • In Oregon, voters will decide Measure 103, a ballot initiative that would ban state and local governments from taxing groceries.
    • In Arizona, voters will vote on an initiative to prohibit new or increased tax rates on services.
    • In Florida, voters will decide on an amendment to require a two-thirds vote of the state legislature to increase taxes or fees.
    • In North Carolina, an amendment would cap income tax rates at 7 percent.
    • In California, voters will decide on a measure to repeal a 2017 gas and diesel tax increase and require voter approval for the state legislature to impose, increase, or extend future fuel taxes.
  • Arkansas and Missouri will decide on increasing the minimum wage. In Arkansas, voters will decide on a ballot initiative that will incrementally raise the minimum wage to $11/hour by 2021. In Missouri, voters will decide on a ballot initiative that will increase the state’s minimum wage each year until it reaches $12/hour in 2023 and then make increases or decreases based on changes in the Consumer Price Index.

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