Election 2014 Ballot Initiatives: Northeastern Voters Approve Measures on Open Space, Water Quality and Mass Transit

Voters in four northeastern states considered ballot initiatives on Election Day related to enhancing water quality, preserving open space, expanding the bottle bill and improving mass transit. Here is how they fared:

Maine

Ballot Question 6 – YES

Voters in Maine approved question 6, which authorizes the state to issue $10 million in bonds to improve water quality, by protecting drinking water sources and restoring wetlands, among other provisions.

Vote Tally (94% reporting):

Yes: 64.6%
No: 35.4%

Massachusetts

Ballot Question 2 — NO

By a wide margin, voters in Massachusetts defeated ballot question 2, which would have expanded the state’s beverage container deposit law, also known as the Bottle Bill, to include non-alcoholic and non-carbonated drinks. The measure would have extended the requirement for 5-cent deposits to bottled water and other non-carbonated beverages and adjusted the deposit every five years to account for inflation.

Vote Tally (100% reporting):

No: 73.5%
Yes: 26.5%

New Jersey

Public Question 2 – YES

Voters approved public question 2, which will amend the state constitution to dedicate six percent of corporate business tax revenue – up from the current four percent — to preserve open space, farmland and historic sites, for the next 30 years.

Vote Tally (96% reporting):

Yes: 64.6%
No: 35.4%

Rhode Island

Ballot Question 6 – YES

Ballot Question 7 — YES

Ballot question 6 calls for the issuance of $35 million in bonds to fund mass transit infrastructure improvements.

Vote Tally (99% reporting):

Yes: 60%
No: 40%

Ballot Question 7 authorizes the state to issue $53 million in bonds for environmental and recreational purposes.

Vote Tally:

Yes: 70.9%
No: 29.1%

Ballot Initiatives Outside the Northeast

Across the country, voters considered environmentally focused ballot initiatives on issues ranging from conservation funding to GMO labeling. California voters decided on a bond issue related to its water supply. Voters in a few states also cast ballots on local initiatives to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Conservation questions appeared on ballots in four states: Alaska, Florida, Louisiana and North Dakota.

Alaska

Ballot Measure 4: YES

Voters strongly supported this ballot initiative, which requires the state’s legislature to approve any proposed mining project in the Bristol Bay watershed, specifically targeting the planned Pebble Mine. That mining project would be the largest of its kind in the world and has the potential to harm wildlife, including the massive native salmon population in the Bay and its watershed. The measure belongs to a category known as an initiated state stature and enacts a new law through the ballot initiative process.

Vote Tally (100% reporting)

Yes: 65.3 %
No:  34.7%

Florida

Amendment 1: YES

This ballot measure received more votes than any single candidate and amends the state constitution to dedicate approximately $10 billion in tax money over the next 20 years to purchase environmentally sensitive land and protect wildlife and water resources. The initiative will create the largest state-based conservation program in U.S. history, once the state legislature crafts a bill that outlines how it will be implemented.

Vote Tally (100% reporting)

Yes: 74.9%
No:   25.1%

Louisiana

Amendment 8: YES

The ballot question is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, designed to create an “Artificial Reef Fund” made up of monies that have been received by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in the form of grants, donations, and other assistance. The fund will be dedicated to managing an artificial reef system, a wild seafood certification program and enhancement projects for fisheries habitats.

Vote Tally (100% reporting)

Yes: 57.2%
No:  42.8%

North Dakota

Ballot Measure 5: NO

Voters soundly defeated this measure, which would have set aside 5 percent of the state’s oil and gas extraction taxes for land conservation efforts over the next 25 years. At current oil production levels, the measure would have produced as much as $150 million for buying land, creating parks, improving fish and wildlife habitats, preventing flooding and improving water quality, among other goals.

Vote Tally (100% reporting)

No:   79.4%
Yes:  20.6%

A bond measure related to water supply and quality was on the ballot in California.

California

Proposition 1: YES

Voters in California approved proposition 1, a bond measure with major implications for the state’s future water supply. The measure authorizes the state to issue $7.6 billion in bonds to  fund water infrastructure projects, including surface and groundwater storage, ecosystem and watershed protection, and restoration and drinking-water protection.

Vote Tally (100% reporting)

Yes: 66.8%
No:  33.2%

Ballot questions regarding labelling of food containing genetically modified organisms appeared on state ballots in Oregon and Colorado and on a local ballot in Maui, Hawaii.

Oregon

Measure 92: NO

Oregon voters narrowly defeated this ballot question, which would have mandated the labeling of foodstuffs produced with or containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Measure 92 was the state’s costliest ballot measure, with supporters raising more than $8 million and opponents raising more than $20 million in an effort to prevent Oregon from being the first state to enact a voter-approved GMO labeling law.

Vote Tally (94% reporting)

No:   50.47%
Yes:  49.53%

Colorado

Proposition 105: NO

Colorado’s GMO labeling measure was defeated by a larger margin than in Oregon. The law would have required any prepackaged, processed food or raw agricultural commodity that has been genetically modified or produced using genetic engineering to include the label:  “produced with genetic engineering.”

Vote Tally (98% reporting)

No:   65.8%
Yes:  34.2%

Local Ballot Measure on GMO Crops in Hawaii

Maui County, Hawaii

Voters in Maui County approved a temporary moratorium on the growing of GMO crops, with 50 percent voting in favor of the ban and 48 percent voting no. The moratorium is to remain in place until certain environmental and public health studies are conducted.  Maui County includes the islands of Maui – a major producer of sugarcane, coffee and pineapples – plus Lanai and Molokai.  Once again, the battle was costly, with opponents raising nearly $8 million and supporters of the ban raising just under $60,000. But Monsanto released a statement Wednesday saying it plans to take steps to ask the court to declare that the initiative is legally flawed and cannot be enforced.

Split Results for Local Fracking Ban Ballot Measures in California, Ohio and Texas

In California, where the Monterey shale formation is located, voters in San Benito and Mendocino counties voted to prohibit fracking by approximately 57 and 67 percent, respectively.   But in Santa Barbara County, voters defeated a similar initiative by 63 percent. The bans may be moot, as the formation is said to be technically difficult and expensive to exploit. Santa Cruz County and the City of Los Angeles have already enacted bans.

In Ohio, proposed bans were defeated in Youngstown, Gates Mills and Kent, but were approved with 78 percent of the vote in Athens, the home of Ohio University. Previous bans have already been enacted in the Ohio communities of Yellow Springs, Oberlin, Mansfield and Broadview Heights.

In Denton, Texas, a college town located on the northern edge of the Barnett shale field, opponents of fracking garnered 58.64 percent of the vote, despite being outspent by a margin of 10 to 1. At least two lawsuits, including one by the Texas Oil and Gas Association, were filed against the ban on Wednesday.

–Compiled by Eleanor Saunders and Rona Cohen

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