Ballot initiatives Feed

Sunsets like this one at Zuma Beach in Malibu, California, make many Golden State coastal properties prime rental investments. But Golden State limits on property taxes on inherited homes cost cities and other jurisdictions billions of dollars. (Photo by Alex Beattie via Flickr CC) Californians love Proposition 13, the grandfather of tax-limiting ballot initiatives. Since its passage in 1978, it has kept a tight cap on property tax increases. But an expansion of the original Prop 13, enacted eight years later, and its unforeseen consequences have cost Golden State school districts, cities and counties of billions of dollars in revenue,... Read more →


With apologies to Charles Dickens, it is the best and worst of times for soda taxes. News out of Washington State today is that Seattle's sweetened beverage tax raised about $1 million more than predicted in its first three months. Seattle's tax — similar to others across the United States that tax a variety of sugary beverages but are popularly called soda taxes — took effect on Jan. 1, 2018. In its first three months as law, it reportedly raised almost $4.5 million. If that pace holds throughout the rest of the year, it will blow past the city's budget... Read more →


California has the highest gas tax in the United States. Opponents are hoping to repeal it via a ballot measure this November. I filled up my mid-sized Chevy sedan's tank this morning, something I do every two weeks or so. I was stunned to see my local gas station, which usually sells gas at the lower end of the prevailing price scale, had regular unleaded going for $2.63 a gallon. That's a more than 50-cent hike from my previous tank top-off in April. It also put the Austin area (or at least my neighborhood) closer than it's been for a... Read more →


Voters in California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine approved recreational marijuana use, and taxing those personal pot amounts, on Nov. 8. The votes are in, for the most part, not only for the U.S. president, but also for myriad ballot initiatives. Only Arizona voters on Tuesday rejected personal marijuana legalization. The lone consolation for many disappointed Grand Canyon State supporters is that travel is easy to the neighboring, and pot-approving, states of Nevada, California and Colorado. While the weed votes -- medical marijuana also was on ballots, and approved, in North Dakota, Arkansas, Florida and Montana -- got most mass media... Read more →


Americans vote tomorrow for our 45th president. Finally! Do you know where your polling place tomorrow is? If not, HeadCount can help. While that's the biggest decision, millions of folks across the country also will have a voice Nov. 8 on a variety of consequential issues via ballot initiatives. Ballotpedia reports that this Election Day, there are 162 statewide ballot measures in 35 states. Eight measures were decided in pre-November elections, leaving 154 measures to be decided tomorrow. Politicking for pot, other smoking taxes: Marijuana always gets a lot of attention at election time. (I still blame "Reefer Madness" for... Read more →


It's November. You know what that means. Yes, the presidential election will be over next week. But November also means that we have two months to make some tax moves to ensure we don't encounter any tax turkeys. Don't be gobbled up by tax concerns. Make these November tax moves. (South Park/Comedy Central turkeys via GIPHY) Health care considerations: November kicked off with open season for Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, enrollment. If you don't get medical insurance at work, you should check out the Health Care Marketplace for coverage. You'll need minimal essential coverage or you'll owe a tax... Read more →


I helped my mom vote today. She's 82 and has some vision issues that make voting in person difficult, so we filled out her ballot and dropped it in the mail. One of the local issues my mother had to vote on in this year's election. Yay civic participation! I am, however, a bit disappointed that we had to pay the postage for the over-sized envelope. Yes, two stamps instead of one is not big deal in the grand scheme of being a cog in the wheel of democracy. But really, shouldn't governments do things to make voting easier, like... Read more →


Ezekiel Elliott's visit to a Seattle marijuana retailer was the big weed news this week, and yes, pot has received lots of headlines lately (more on this a little later). Apparently amazed visitors to the cannabis display at the Oregon State Fair in Salem, the first time pot plants have been open for public viewing at any U.S. state fair. This is just one piece of pot news so far this month. Click image to view the AP video via USA Today. I admit that as a Dallas Cowboys fan, I spent an inordinate amount of time following the first-round... Read more →


There are many nicknames for marijuana. Weed. Pot. Mary Jane. Cash cow. OK, that last one isn't an official moniker for pot. But it is how many state legislators see the mood altering herb. And it could be a reason why 4/20 could one day be celebrated nationwide. Photo by GoToVan via Flickr CC Pot's tax payoff: Nearly $700 million of medical and recreational marijuana was sold in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize recreational use of pot, in 2014. Data through last November shows that the 2015 numbers have already passed the 2014 mark, with nearly $895... Read more →


One Colorado county is looking to change the traditional linkage of college kids and pot. At a story/suspected crime scene in my first post-college reporter job, smoking Marlboro Lights, not marijuana! Starting in 2017, Pueblo County high school graduates will be eligible for college scholarships funded by money from the local marijuana tax. Wisdom thanks to weed taxes: On Nov. 3, around 60 percent of voters in this county south of Colorado Springs approved a ballot measure that will gradually increase taxes on marijuana growers. The county pot tax rate will top out at 5 percent by 2020. Pueblo County... Read more →


I'm a little slow posting today. I had to go vote. Have you been to your polling place yet? If not, you need to get out and make your voice heard. Most polling stations are open until 7 p.m. local time. Not only is public participation at the polls key to our democracy, it's also an important tax move for voters in some states. State tax questions on some ballots: Here in Texas, we're deciding on three tax initiatives. The biggie is a proposal to hike the residential homestead property tax exemption from $15,000 to $25,000. Most eyes, however, are... Read more →


The Republican governor of Massachusetts has signed a petition that, if successful, would let his state's voters decide if they want to tax millionaires more. Gov. Charlie Baker told WGBH public radio earlier this month that although he personally hasn't yet decided whether he supports a surtax on high-income taxpayers, he does believe that voters should get a say on the idea. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker in the WGBH studios on Oct. 15. Photo by Meredith Nierman/WGBH News. Click image to listen to the interview. Such direct democracy efforts are becoming even more popular. As I note in my story... Read more →


Here in Texas, especially the western part of the state where I grew up and communities are many miles apart, you get used to driving. So when roads start deteriorating, motorists tend to get irritated. The rage over road conditions hit a new high when some of Texas' paved roads were left to return to gravel before the citizenry voted last November to direct some of the state's reserve "rainy day" money to transportation projects. On a more local level, counties and cities still appropriate some funds for relatively rocky roads. My particular subdivision street, for example, is one of... Read more →


Oregon voters on Nov. 4 approved use of small amounts of recreational marijuana in their state. The fight over taxing weed, however, continues. The ballot initiative that passed by a 56-to-44-percent margin specifically gave the state the exclusive right to tax marijuana. City officials are fighting that provision. State vs. local taxation: Under Measure 91, which takes effect July 1, 2015, producers will be taxed $35 an ounce for the most potent parts of a marijuana plant. Marijuana leaves will face a $10 per ounce tax, while there will be a $5 levy for plant starts sold to home growers.... Read more →


Berkeley, California, finally went where no taxing jurisdiction has gone before. Voters in the city on the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay area overwhelmingly voted on Nov. 4 to tax sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda and juice. No other town has ever done that. Just as impressive as the 75 percent pro-tax vote -- a simple majority was all that was needed for passage -- was that the Berkeley citizenry shut down the beverage industry, which spent more than $1 million fighting the ballot initiative. Approval of Measure D means that beginning Jan. 1, 2015, Berkeley will levy... Read more →


Tax reform might have been an implicit issue in the Nov. 4 federal midterm elections, but the matter of assessing, collecting and exempting taxes was specific on many state and local ballots. In most cases, voters approved the tax ballot initiatives. Here's a rundown of the major measures. Georgia is the first state to cap its income tax rate. Peach State voters decided that keeping its current 6 percent rate will make the state more competitive with other states. Some say this is the first step toward eventually eliminating the state income tax. Stay tuned. Tennessee voters easily agreed to... Read more →


Most of us won't vote on tax-related ballot initiatives today, but taxes still will guide our choices, according to a recent poll. Public Opinion Strategies' (POS) national pre-election survey found that tax reform is a major concern for most voters. Overall, the Alexandria, Virginia-based political and public affairs research firm found that economic issues will be a deciding factor in how people vote today. Nearly all voters (96 percent) say economic issues are important to their vote. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) classify economic issues as "extremely" or "very important" in determining how they will cast their ballots. That sentiment was... Read more →


Vote! Vote, vote, vote, vote. Vote! The hubby and I voted early. Sometimes we wait until Election Day. Either way, we always vote, as the collection of polling place stickers on our bedroom dresser mirror attests. While I want my candidates and issues to win, I won't go as far as my friend Lisa, who says on social media, "Truth be told, I only want those of you who agree with me to vote. The rest of y'all, it's a big hassle and your one vote doesn't matter. Staying away is totally fine." Staying away is not totally fine. So... Read more →


Nov. 4 is not just a day to decide which candidates will fill local, state and federal legislative offices. Voters across the country also will be having their say on 146 ballot measures. The topics awaiting the people's voice range from guaranteeing gun rights, legalizing marijuana, hiking the minimum wage and even defining what it takes to be a person. Oh yeah. There also are several tax ballot initiatives, as detailed in today's Weekly Tax Tip. Straight to voters: Although lawmakers are chosen to make tough decisions about running a state or other levels of government, they are not averse... Read more →


You can pick on Cleveland and its sports teams all you want, but you've got to hand it to Browns, Cavaliers and Indians fans. They are willing to pay more sin taxes so that their NFL, NBA and MLB teams can play in top-notch facilities. Additional levies on alcohol and cigarettes were approved by Cuyahoga County voters on Tuesday, May 6. The taxes are projected to raise as much as $350 million, which will be used to pay for building, renovating, improving or repairing the city's professional teams' facilities. Tax dollars for the rich: Currently, the Cleveland Browns play their... Read more →