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AZ, OK voters reject health care mandate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Voters in 50 states had their say Nov. 2 on dozens of ballot initiatives touching on everything from health care and “global warming” to payday loans and UFOs.

HEALTH CARE — Voters in three states — Arizona (Proposition 106), Colorado (Amendment 63) and Oklahoma (Question 756) — voted on initiatives that would prevent individuals from being forced to participate in any health care insurance plan, a key provision of the federal law widely called Obamacare. Critics of the initiatives say the initiatives, even if they were to pass, could not override federal law. Arizona voters approved Prop. 106 by a 55-45 percent margin, while Oklahoma voters adopted Question 756 by a two-to-one vote. Late in the evening, Colorado voters appeared headed to rejecting Amendment 63.

GLOBAL WARMING — California voters upheld a landmark global warming law by a substantial margin. Proposition 23 would have rolled back California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 until state unemployment — currently at 12.3 percent — dipped to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters. Prop 23 supporters said the global warming law will lead to higher unemployment and energy costs, while opponents said the law is needed to reduce gas emissions. Late in the evening, with more than 3.5 million votes counted, more than 59 percent of voters were opposing Prop. 23.

PAYDAY AND TITLE LOANS — In Montana, citizens overwhelmingly approved a measure to limit the annual interest rate that payday and title loan businesses can charge. Initiative 164, which was adopted by a 72-28 percent margin, limits those rates to 36 percent — a rate the businesses claimed would force them to shut down. Rates of up to 400 percent were being charged, a level Initiative 164 supporters said preyed on the poor and caused people to fall even further in debt.

SMOKING BANS — South Dakota voters approved Referred Law 12, which broadened the statewide smoking ban to include restaurants, bars, package liquor stores, casinos and video lottery establishments. Lawmakers had voted in 2009 to extend the state’s smoking ban to most workplaces and public areas, but a coalition of businesses had gathered enough signatures to force a statewide vote.

GAMBLING — A proposal to bring a resort casino to the southern Maine city of Oxford still hung in the balance in the early morning hours of Oct. 3. A “yes” vote on Question 1 would have allowed the casino, but as of 3 a.m., less than 4,000 votes separated the vote totals. With 529 of 596 precincts reporting, 50.4 percent of voters favored Question 1, while 49.7 percent opposed it.

STATE NAME CHANGE — A proposal to change Rhode Island’s official name from “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” to “State of Rhode Island” was rejected by nearly 78 percent of voters. Supporters of Question 1 had said the word “plantations” was offensive, an unwanted reminder of slavery. Opponents countered that the word predated slavery in Rhode Island and was simply a reference to settlements in Providence.

UFO INITIATIVE — Voters in Denver overwhelmingly rejected an initiative to establish a commission to track and investigate reports of unidentified flying objects. The proposal was voted down by 85 percent of the voters, with early results indicating a vote of 106,776-20,162 against the plan.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.

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