The 2024 presidential election is already in full swing, but first voters are settling a swath of ballot questions in states nationwide.
Gaithersburg and Rockville notwithstanding, things are mostly quiet in Maryland. Still, Conduit Street has identified several intriguing state and local ballot questions on fiscal rules and taxes, housing, transportation, and energy and climate.
Fiscal Rules and Taxes
Texas is considering an amendment to the state Constitution known as Proposition 3. The amendment, approved by the Texas Legislature in May, would prohibit the creation of a “wealth tax” in the Lone Star State, including “a tax on the difference between the assets and liabilities of an individual or family.”
In addition, Texas is considering a measure that allows the Legislature to limit until December 2026 the maximum appraised value of real property for ad valorem tax purposes and increases the residence homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000, or $110,000 for residents over 65 or who are disabled.
Colorado is considering a measure to rewrite the state’s tax system for at least a decade. If approved, Proposition HH would lower property tax rates, saving billions of dollars for homeowners and other property owners. At the same time, it would substantially shrink the income tax refunds paid to millions of Coloradans in the form of “Colorado Cashback” checks and other methods — and it would allow state spending to grow faster than current limits set by TABOR.
Sante Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is considering a 3 percent tax on residential property sales of $1 million or more — with no tax on the first $1 million in value. If approved, the excise tax revenue would fund affordable housing initiatives. It comes on the heels of a voter-approved initiative in Los Angeles and new proposals in Chicago and Massachusetts.
Boulder County, Colorado
Boulder County is considering extending for fifteen years the existing 0.185 percent countywide sales and use tax to fund current and additional affordable and attainable housing and related supportive services within Boulder County.
Tacoma is considering an ambitious slate of measures to protect tenants from evictions and rising rents.
If approved, this measure would require landlords to comply with health and safety laws before raising rent or evicting a tenant, set limits on specified rental fees, and require landlords to provide two notices to increase rent and offer relocation assistance when the increase is 5 percent or more, In addition, it would create a defense against certain student/school year evictions, evictions between November 1 and April 1, and evictions against service members, seniors, families and others with protected status under the measure.
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City is considering renewing for ten years a 0.375 percent sales tax to support public transit. If renewed, officials say the measure will raise more than $400 million over the next decade.
Cincinnati is considering a measure to allow for the sale of publicly owned railroad tracks. Earlier this year, officials in Cincinnati voted to sell the city’s publicly-owned railway tracks to Norfolk Southern for $1.6 billion. Now, voters will decide whether to approve or deny that sale.
Energy and Climate
Maine is considering a ballot measure to convert two investor-owned power companies into a public nonprofit. According to the Associated Press, if approved, the referendum would mark the first time a state with existing private utilities decided to scrap them simultaneously in favor of a nonprofit model.
Texas is considering a new fund to encourage the construction of gas-fueled power plants. According to The Hill, if approved, this fund would provide $7.2 billion in low-interest loans for constructing new gas-powered plants, completion bonuses, and repairs to existing gas plants.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.