(RNS) Voters on ballot initiatives in 41 states gave a resounding thumbs-up to recreational marijuana and higher minimum wages, while dividing on abortion-related measures and GMO labeling.
In Colorado, voters rejected a proposal to add “unborn human beings” to the state’s criminal code, a measure that some feared could ban abortion.
And in North Dakota, voters rejected a “right-to-life” state constitutional amendment that abortion rights advocates feared would have ended legal abortions there. The North Dakota measure would have declared “the inalienable right to life of every human being at every stage of development must be recognized and protected.”
But Tennessee approved an amendment that will give more power to state lawmakers to regulate and restrict abortion, adding language to the Tennessee constitution that reads, in part: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion,” even in the case of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.
Voters in Florida rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana for the relief of chronic pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with eight major diseases.
Oregon voters did approve a measure, modeled on Washington state’s, that allow adults to buy marijuana for recreational use. A household can have up to 8 ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to four plants; consumption is banned in public.
Alaska also looked likely to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Advocates for the measure were holding a slim lead with nearly two-thirds of the state’s precincts reporting.
And in Washington, D.C., city residents overwhelmingly approved a measure that will allow people to possess up to 2 oz. of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants at home without legal penalties. But the D.C. law faces a strange restriction, as pot still remains illegal in the one-fourth of the city that sits on federal land — federal law still bans marijuana possession. And Congress could step in and overrule any new measure.
MINIMUM WAGE, GMOS, IMMIGRATION
Other issues on the ballot Tuesday night:
• In Oregon, voters rejected a measure permitting four-year driver’s cards to those who cannot prove their legal status in the United States. Supporters said the bill would keep the streets safer by forcing people to learn the rules of the road and get insurance. The measure was aimed mainly at Oregon’s tens of thousands of immigrants who are in the country illegally. The Pew Hispanic Center says about 160,000 immigrants living in Oregon entered the country illegally.
• In Arkansas, Alaska, South Dakota and Nebraska, voters approved hiking the minimum wage. Voters in Illinois approved a non-binding ballot question on raising the minimum wage.
• Voters in Colorado rejected mandated labels for genetically modified foods; a similar measure in Oregon was too close to call.
(Greg Toppo and Laura Mandaro write for USA Today)
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