States Take the Initiative

States Take the Initiative

With control of Congress and 36 governorships up for grabs, the 2022 elections are shaping up to be transformational. In some states, voters will get their say on hugely consequential issues lower down the ballot, in direct-democracy initiatives on various hot-button issues, ranging from abortion to gun rights to labor and tax policy. And given recent news, we’re likely to see more such initiatives in coming elections. The Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, overturning Roe v. Wade , has elevated the debate about abortion initiatives in five states—the most in any year to this point. In two states, Kentucky and Kansas, voters will choose whether to amend their respective state constitutions to deny explicitly that any language in their founding documents implies a right to an abortion. The amendments respond to a series of state court rulings in places like California, Minnesota, Illinois, and New Jersey that resemble Roe v. Wade in holding that state constitutions guarantee abortion rights. After the Kansas supreme court issued one such ruling in April 2019, the Republican majority in the Kansas legislature tried to create an initiative for voters to amend the constitution in 2020 but could not muster the two-thirds vote needed to get the issue on the ballot after five Republicans voted against it. All five have subsequently left the legislature or been defeated in GOP primaries, and the legislature has since voted successfully to place the measure on the ballot in an election taking place in early August. The measure has […]

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