Ballot incentives change laws across nation

Minnesotans voted last week to pass a sales tax increase to benefit the arts and the environment, but it wasnâÄôt the only state to put an issue into votersâÄô hands. In fact, there were over 170 different ballot measures voted on across the country. Some were votes on issues like tax increases, like in Minnesota, while others dealt with social issues that tend to crop up in every election. Like in Minnesota, there were winners and losers in each state. Below is a brief explanation of some of the most impactful ballot measures across the country. Gay Marriage Voters in Arizona, California and Florida voted in favor of bans on gay marriage on Tuesday. Monica Meyer , political policy director for OutFront Minnesota , a gay rights advocacy group, said the result was âÄúheartbreaking.âÄù âÄúI think we thought by 2008âĦ that the support for two people of the same sex who love each other, that there would be support for allowing those couples to stay married,âÄù she said. California has given more than 18,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Meyer said. Courts are now considering the fate of those licenses. The stateâÄôs Supreme Court struck down a gay marriage ban in May. âÄúIt was really hard to watch people vote for discrimination against GLBT families,âÄù Meyer said. Edward Schiappa , a University communications professor, said he wasnâÄôt surprised by the vote. Most voters only view the issue as a political issue, and not as one relating it to the larger issue of Constitutional law, he said. âÄúIf you ask most people from a personal value standpoint, IâÄôm not surprised to see a majority not ready for this,âÄù he said. Abortion For the second time in three years, South Dakotans voted down an abortion ban, though this yearâÄôs ban was more lenient than in 2006. This yearâÄôs measure included exceptions for women who had been raped or whose lives were in danger. Despite the change, the measure was defeated by a 10-point margin. âÄúTo us, [the votes] show that there is a pro-choice majority in this country,âÄù Avi Viswanathan , political director for NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota, said. âÄúIt doesnâÄôt just in exist in pockets.âÄù Molly O’Hare , president of Students for Human Life on campus, said she would have voted for the ban with those limitations in place, although she doesnâÄôt think they would matter for some voters. âÄúI think so many people who are on the fence say they wouldnâÄôt do it but they want it to be an option,âÄù she said. California also voted down a measure which would impose parental notification and a 48-hour waiting period on abortions for minors. Representatives for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life declined comment on Tuesday. Marijuana Michigan voted to become the 13th state to allow medical marijuana use on Nov. 4, and Massachusetts voted to lessen penalties for possession of the drug. Bruce Mirken , spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project , said with MichiganâÄôs vote, about one in every four Americans lives in a state which allows marijuana for medical use. âÄúWith so many states now permitting medical marijuana, we certainly hope that will give an imputes to reconsideration of federal policies on the issue,âÄù Mirken said. In 2007, a bill legalizing medical marijuana use in Minnesota passed the Senate, but was never passed in the House. The state of Massachusetts decriminalized possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, replacing it with a $100 fine. âÄúHopefully [the votes are] going to be the beginning of bringing some common sense both to other states and the federal level,âÄù Mikren said.