Amidst the midterm Republican victory, U.S. voters approved some really progressive ballot measures.

Amidst the doom and gloom of the Republican return to power, it’s easy to get disheartened. This blogpost is an attempt to show that not everybody is a right-wing extremist and that when you give people power over the direction of their own state, they quite often do remarkably good things with it. In short, this is a cheer-up blogpost for grieving Democrat voters, and is a testament to local action.

This list only documents positive measures that are favoured by progressives. For a full list of 2014 midterm ballot measures, go here.

Alaska measures:

  • Legalized marijuana for recreational use.
  • Increased minimum wage for the next two years.

Arizona measures:

  • Prevented an increase in state legislature member salaries.
  • Now allows terminally ill patients to access clinical-trial drugs not yet approved by the FDA.

Arkansas measures:

  • Implementing ethics transparency reform, limiting lobbying and creating an independent elected official salary commission.
  • Increased minimum wage to $8.50 by 2017.

California measures:

  • Reduced classification of many non-violent crimes from felony to misdemeanor.

Colorado measures:

  • Prevented a measure which would recognize unborn children as having “personhood”.

District of Colombia measures:

  • Legalized small amounts of marijuana for recreational use.

Georgia measures:

  • Now allows penalties paid by reckless drivers to go to the state’s Brain and Spinal Injury Fund.

Illinois measures:

  • Approved a $10 minimum wage.
  • Now ensures that healthcare insurance plans which cover prescriptions must also provide contraception.
  • Expanded victims rights.
  • Raised income tax on income over $1 million, the money for which will fund state schools.
  • Prohibited voter discrimination.

Louisiana measures:

  • Constitutionally protected the state’s Medical Assistance Trust Fund.

Maine measures:

  • Approved bonds worth millions of dollars for small businesses, health labs, clean water labs, tissue repair research facilities and marine businesses.

Massachusetts measures:

  • Now allows certain employees the right to collect and use paid sick days.

Nebraska measures:

  • Approved an $8 minimum wage by January 1st, 2016.

New Jersey measures:

  • Approved the right for suspects to be bailed.
  • Mandates that 6% of corporate business tax revenue must go to open space preservation.

New York measures:

  • Electronified legislative bills to save paper.
  • Approved a $2 billion funding boost for technology upgrades in schools.

North Carolina measures:

  • Allow defendants to waive their right to a jury trial.

North Dakota measures:

  • Prevented a measure which would recognize life as beginning at conception.

Oregon measures:

  • Now guarantees state-wide equality between the sexes.
  • Legalized recreational marijuana.

Rhode Island measures:

  • Approved hundreds of millions of dollars for arts and culture centres, environmental and recreational ventures, mass transit infrastructure and a College of Engineering.

South Dakota measures:

  • Increased minimum wage to $8.50 and increases it every year based on inflation.
  • Now allows residents to apply for healthcare providers for free.

Tennessee measures:

  • Now allows the legislature to enact, amend and repeal abortion legislation.
  • Now allows the legislature to permit lottery events that benefit veterans.

Virginia measures:

  • Now allows surviving spouses of military personnel killed in action to exempt themselves from property tax.

Washington measures:

  • Approved mandatory background checks on all gun purchases.

West Virginia:

  • Now exempts non-profit youth organizations from ad valorem property tax.

And the award for most progressive ballot measure approvals goes to: Illinois, whose voters did more for real people in five ballot votes than the 113th Congress has done for the entire country, as detailed below:

illinois

And the award for most conservative ballot measure approvals goes to: Alabama, whose voters approved measures one could expect to find in the Republican party platform, as detailed below:

alabama

To hammer home the good news:

  • Voters in 5 states have either redirected or approved funding for educational and preservational ventures.
  • Voters in 5 states have now approved a rise in the minimum wage in one form or another.
  • Voters in 3 states have now decriminalized marijuana in one form or another (sadly Florida missed out on the 60% majority needed to legalize medical marijuana).
  • Voters in 2 states have rejected draconian definitions of when life begins, which would have had devastating consequences on access to abortions.
  • Voters in 1 state has taken steps to limit the influence that corporate lobbyists have on the legislature.

The fight may have gotten harder in Congress, but at the state ballot level, we’re winning.

(All graphics are altered images from the Huffington Post)

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