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Family leave, a living wage, and marriage equality: Progressives score major wins

Ballot measures containing progressive policies were approved by voters across the country.

By Emily Singer - November 04, 2020
Woman with I Voted sticker on forehead

Voters across the country approved progressive policies on Tuesday, moving the country to the left even when Democratic candidates in their states came up short in their races.

A look at ballot measures across the country shows voters moved their states to the left on their own, going around state legislatures that have blocked progress on everything from drug laws to workers’ rights.

Here’s a look at ballot initiatives that passed after votes were tallied on Tuesday.

Legalized marijuana

Four states legalized marijuana for either recreational or medicinal use.

Voters in New Jersey and Arizona legalized recreational marijuana use.

Voters in South Dakota and Mississippi, two Republican strongholds, voted to legalize the drug for medicinal use.

The voting results include them as part of a trend of states approving marijuana for medicinal or recreational use, or decriminalizing the use of the drug.

Minimum wage

Voters in Florida voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour — something Democrats have pushed for but Republicans have blocked.

Currently, Florida’s minimum wage stands at $8.56 an hour.

The ballot measure will raise the minimum wage to $10 in September 2021, and then will incrementally add $1 every year until it is $15 in 2026.

Florida voters also rejected a GOP ballot measure that would have made it harder to pass ballot initiatives. The measure would have required amendments to the state Constitution to be passed in two successive elections instead of one before they are approved.

The ballot measure was a response by Florida Republicans to the one in 2018 that restored the right to vote to people with nonviolent felony convictions who had served out their sentences.

Republicans tried to weaken that measure by requiring those who were eligible to gain back their franchise to pay back all outstanding court fees and fines beforehand.

Voting rights

In California, voters approved a ballot measure that will allow those out on parole to vote.

Paid leave

Colorado passed paid family and medical leave, which will require employers to provide 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child or to deal with personal or family medical emergencies.

LGBTQ rights

In Nevada, voters passed the Marriage Regardless of Gender Amendment, codifying marriage equality in the state even if the Supreme Court overturns the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that marriage equality was protected by the Constitution.

Replacing the Confederate flag

In Mississippi, voters officially approved a design for a new state flag, removing the Confederate battle flag that had been a feature of the state’s flag since 1894 and replaced it with a Magnolia flower.

Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill in June that removed the Confederate emblem from the state flag. But the ballot initiative that passed on Tuesday requires the state legislature to “enact into law the new design as Mississippi’s official state flag during its next regular session in 2021,” CNN reported.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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