State of the States — October 22
Five state legislatures remained in session during October. The remaining 41 state legislatures adjourned their regular sessions by the end of September.
- Of the states in session, Ohio had no legislative activity, although a few committees did meet either in person or virtually.
- The Pennsylvania legislature returned from their September recess on October 24 with a session scheduled for October 26. Much of the session activity related to housekeeping tasks, such as clarifying what is considered a condominium or bridge.
- New Jersey has a voting session scheduled for October 27. The legislation before the state legislature ranges from whether wine can be sold during specific events to designating the second week in November as National Apprenticeship Week.
- Michigan's last legislative session ended on October 13. During that session, the legislators addressed legislation related to health and human services, transportation, and voting rights.
- Massachusetts adjourned formal sessions at the end of July. Informal sessions may occur from August 1, 2022, through January 2, 2023.
Most legislators spent October in their home districts, focusing on the upcoming midterm elections.
Of the 41 states that have legislative measures on their upcoming ballots, the following states have measures that could impact the national conversation on such topics as voting rights, abortion, and gun control.
Voters will decide whether to remove racist language from the Alabama Constitution. The amendment is part of a recompiled state constitution effort to reorganize the 1901 Constitution, which has not been revised since its ratification. The Alabama ballot also includes ten amendments to the Constitution, ranging from taxes to utility regulations.
Arizona has three amendments on the ballot related to voting. One measure, if passed, would allow lawmakers to change voter-approved ballot measures or divert funds if the Arizona or US Supreme Courts rule the measure unconstitutional. It would overturn the existing Voter Protection Act. The remaining ballot measures require a 60% majority to approve tax changes and limit initiatives to a single subject.
Arkansas is one of five states where voters will decide on legalizing marijuana. Voters will also decide if a constitutional amendment will require 60% of the popular vote for citizen-initiated measures to be placed on a ballot. As in similar legislation in other states, the requirements add constraints to public-initiated ballot measures.
Californians will have the choice to add an amendment to their Constitution that extends the definition of reproductive freedom to include the right to choose to have an abortion and to choose or refuse contraceptives. This amendment appears as Proposition 1 on the November ballot.
Colorado has 11 ballot initiatives ranging from tax changes to liquor licensing. The initiatives allow voters to decide where wine can be sold and if third-party delivery of alcohol is legalized.
Connecticut will vote on a constitutional amendment to allow no-excuse early voting. The state does not currently allow early voting. It is the only measure on the statewide ballot.
Iowa voters will decide if the right to own and bear firearms should be added to the Iowa Constitution. If passed, it requires strict scrutiny of any attempts to litigate violations through the judicial system.
Kentucky voters will decide on November 8 whether abortion is a protected constitutional right. If passed, Amendment 2 would eliminate the ability to challenge the existing abortion law in court. Only the legislative branch would have the ability to address abortion-related issues.
Michigan's Proposal 2 would make changes to the state's voting laws. The measures would mandate nine days of early voting, as well as require state-funded prepaid stamped envelopes and a tracking system for absentee ballots. The legislation would protect voters from harassment or intimidation while voting. Michigan voters will decide if reproductive freedom is a constitutional right.
Missouri voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana for adults over 21. The amendment also allows individuals convicted of non-violent marijuana-related offenses to ask for release from prison and have their records expunged. If the amendment passes, a 6% sales tax would be applied to marijuana sales.
Montana voters will decide if an infant born alive at any stage of development must receive medical care. If passed, the law requires medical professionals to deliver medical care regardless of long-term prognosis. The legislation is termed the "born-alive" amendment.
Nevada Question 3 would change the state to rank choice voting in congressional and state offices. The measure will be voted on in 2022 and 2024.
North Dakota voters will decide on legalizing recreational marijuana. The state has rejected legalization in the past, with the oil industry being a primary opponent. The oil industry requires drug testing for its field works. Marijuana would qualify as a drug since it is illegal at the federal level.
Ohioans will decide whether to make it a constitutional amendment to prevent noncitizens from voting. The congressional map for voting districts in Ohio was ruled unconstitutional, although it is being used in the 2022 election.
Oregon will vote to remove language from its constitution that allows servitude and enslavement as punishments for crimes. In addition, voters will determine if gun buyers must qualify for a permit before purchasing a firearm. This measure would also limit large-capacity magazines to less than ten rounds.
Like its northern neighbor, South Dakota will consider legalizing marijuana. Earlier, the voters rejected an amendment requiring 60% of votes to pass certain citizen-initiated measures.
Voters in Vermont will decide if an individual's right to reproductive autonomy is a constitutional right. They will also vote to remove language from the Constitution that allows enslavement or servitude for payment of debts, fines, and damages.
State of States Summary
Most state legislatures were in recess during October. Of the five states that were in session, Ohio and Michigan had limited legislative activity. Pennsylvania scheduled a three-day session beginning October 24, and New Jersey will vote on a few bills on October 27. Massachusetts has been in session throughout October. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed on the latest State of the States once the state legislatures are back in session in 2023.
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