Over the course of the 1998 campaign, The Washington Post is examining the politics of ballot initiative campaigns the people behind them, the money that's spent, and the issues. Does this increasingly popular way of legislating represent democracy at its best, or is it a menace to representative government?
Initiatives Bypass Traditional Lawmaking
November 5, 1998
From Hawaii to Maine, in hundreds of local and state ballot initiatives, on death and taxes, gays and gambling, on marijuana, abortion, smoking, campaigning and the right of muskrats to die humanely, voters made the tough calls.
Affirmative Action Ban Leading in Washington
November 4, 1998
In a fiercely contested battle that could boost the anti-affirmative action movement in Congress and in states across the country, Washington state was poised to join California in banning the use of racial and gender preferences in government hiring and contracting and in university admissions.
Wide Variety of Issues for Voters in 16 States
November 3, 1998
Voters in 16 states will pass judgment on 61 ballot initiatives and referenda, ranging from a billboard ban in Alaska to broad campaign finance reform measures in Massachusetts and Arizona. The number is down from 1996, said M. Dane Waters, president of the Initiative and Referendum Institute, but the percentage likely to pass is way up.
Big Business Pushes for Neb. Spending Cap
October 29, 1998
Some of Nebraska's biggest businesses and most influential executives have raised millions to promote a ballot initiative that would cap the state's budget and return surplus funds to the taxpayers.
Threatened Oak Divides Calif. Landowners
October 28, 1998
The California wine industry has been targeted by environmentalists who hope to save threatened valley oak trees with a ballot initiative.
Anti-Trap Measure Raises a Howl
October 27, 1998
In the continuing experiment in participatory democracy that is sweeping the nation in the form of citizen-initiated propositions, there is this: Voters here in California are being asked to choose between the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote.
Affirmative Action Gets Key Test in Wash.
October 24, 1998
Opponents of a ballot measure to ban racial or gender preferences are scrambling desperately, with little more than a week left, to keep Washington from becoming the second state after California to roll back its affirmative action programs.
Anti-Tobacco Initiative Creates Unlikely Allies
October 22, 1998
Frustrated with the failure of Congress to confront the deep-pocketed tobacco industry, an odd-bedfellow coalition of Hollywood and health activists is pushing California voters to approve a proposition that would increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes by 50 cents and use the billions of dollars generated to pay for early childhood development programs.
Wealthy Benefactors Stoke Campaigns for Medical Marijuana
October 15, 1998
A war against the "war on drugs," fueled by millionaires, not pot-smoking hippies, is taking place in six states and the District of Columbia this month. Voters in Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and the District will find initiatives on their Nov. 3 ballots allowing physicians, under defined conditions, to obtain and dispense marijuana as a palliative to their patients.
Calif. Initiative Riles Teachers, the Right
October 15, 1998
Gov. Pete Wilson is nothing if not persistent. As he winds up his eight years as chief executive of California and plots a second try for the Republican presidential nomination, he has launched one last battle against his longtime adversaries in the California Teachers Association (CTA). And once again, as often before, they may get the best of him.
Oregon May Decide Epic Struggle Over Union Dues for Campaigns
October 12, 1998
An epic yearlong struggle between organized labor and conservative forces seeking to curb its political power is ending here in Oregon, not with a bang but with a whimper.
Choice on Physician-Assisted Suicide Comes Home
October 7, 1998
In Oregon in 1996, it passed by the narrowest of margins, 51 to 49 percent, and then, when the legislature ordered a second vote, the majority increased to 60 percent. In three other states where it reached the ballot, it has been turned down.
And now the issue of physician-assisted suicide, with all its moral, religious and ethical conflicts, has come to Michigan, the home state of Jack Kevorkian, who has made a career of escorting patients into the next world.
Grass-Roots Group Takes Aim at Arkansas Property Tax
October 7, 1998
Born of taxpayer discontent in the state's prosperous northwestern corner, an initiative that would make Arkansas the first state to abolish property taxes and replace them with added sales taxes has struck fear in Arkansas' government and business establishment. Opponents have begun aggressively warning that if Amendment 4 survives a court challenge and passes on Nov. 3, as a recent poll suggests it could, the economic impact would be devastating for Arkansas, especially for its weak public education system.
Hot Topics Divide Voters in Washington
September 26, 1998
Three hot-button initiatives on the November ballot in this northwestern state have split the electorate on racial, religious and class lines. The issues could not be more diverse: a ban on state-sponsored racial preferences or affirmative action; outlawing some forms of late-term abortion; and mandated increases in the minimum wage.
Odd Alliance Fights Tribal Casinos
September 21, 1998
Strange alliances, fierce rhetoric and slick television commercials mark a battle to preserve gambling on Indian reservations in California that is rapidly becoming one of the most expensive initiative campaigns in the nation's history.
In Oregon, Critics See A Good Idea Gone Bad
August 1, 1998
For many Oregonians, the biennial battle of initiatives has become a battle over the initiative process itself a fierce debate about whether direct legislation by the people is still the populist tool its creators claimed in 1902 or a new and expensive weapon for well-financed interest groups.
Calif. Rejection a Big Blow to Bilingualism
June 4, 1998
The resounding decision that California voters made to abolish bilingual education could chart a drastic new course for schools across the country struggling to educate a surging number of immigrant students who speak little or no English.
Labor Outspent Foes on Initiative
June 4, 1998
Millions of dollars, thousands of foot-soldiers and the skill of a handful of largely anonymous female political operatives added up to a critical victory for organized labor in California's primary vote on a "paycheck protection" initiative that threatened to choke off union support for liberal causes and Democratic candidates.
Voter Confusion on a Hot Controversy
May 31, 1998
For the first time, instead of registered Republicans being handed a roster of GOP aspirants and Democratic voters a list of their party's candidates, California's "blanket primary" ballot will include all contenders of all parties, big and small.
Calif. GOP's Bid to Curb Union Funds Is Faltering
May 26, 1998
The Republican drive to choke off the flow of cash from organized labor to liberal candidates and causes has hit a huge roadblock in its crucial test on the June 2 California ballot.
Ballot Pits Rights Vs. Protection
May 11, 1998
Nebraska, the home of William Jennings Bryan, a hero of the turn-of-the-century populist movement, is the site Tuesday of a battle over one of the flourishing legacies of populism: the initiative and referendum.
Union Dues Initiative Causing Divisions for Nevada GOP
May 5, 1998
The "Payroll Protection" plan has earned a place in the conservatives' pantheon of preferred issues, right up there with school vouchers, medical savings accounts and the flat tax.
Collecting Signatures for a Price
April 12, 1998
It's a sellers' market in names this month, and Fred Kimball loves it. "I call it the business of politics," Kimball says of his company that collects signatures for ballot initiatives, and business these days is very good.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company
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