NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Ballot Initiatives across the Country: Soda Taxes, GMOs and Corporate Speech Rights

November 4, 2014

It's Election Day, and voters across the country are heading to the polls to cast their votes for everything from the U.S. Senate to their local city councils. But people will also see a number of proposals on their ballots that would increase taxes and ban fracking, among other measures.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, director of Economcis21 at the Manhattan Institute, identifies what she sees as some of the more ridiculous ballot initiatives:

  • San Francisco is mulling a new tax on sugary drinks of 2 cents per ounce, meaning that a canned soft drink will face a 24-cent tax if the measure passes. The tax is expected to bring the city $31 million in revenue to fund healthy-eating initiatives in schools. Berkeley, California, is also considering a new tax on sugary drinks.
  • Mendocino County, California, wants to ban fracking, as does Santa Barbara County. Similar measures are on ballots in Ohio.
  • Colorado voters will decide whether to require labeling of GMOs. Oregon has a similar initiative, which would require any food produced with genetic modification to be marked as such.
  • Berkeley, California, is deciding whether corporations are people -- an attempt to take away free speech protections for campaign contributions. 
  • Illinois voters will vote on whether to approve a 3 percent tax on millionaires to fund their education system.

Furchtgott-Roth says that ballot initiatives are not the appropriate way to make law, contending that elected representatives, not voters, should decide these issues through the legislative process.

Source: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, "On Election Day, These Proposals Have No Place On Your Ballot," Economics21, October 31, 2014.  


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