Donald Trump’s stunning victory in the presidential election on Tuesday helped usher in a new era of Republican rule in Washington. But voters also weighed in on several science-related state ballot items. Here’s a roundup of the results:
Carbon tax loses in Washington
Voters soundly rejected a ballot initiative that would have established the nation’s first-ever carbon tax in exchange for a sales tax cut and working families tax rebate. Initiative 732, which got just 41.1% support, sought to appeal to stakeholders and voters across ideological lines by being revenue-neutral. But it took friendly fire from many environmental, labor, and social justice activists for not investing revenues in clean energy and in vulnerable communities and communities of color that need help preparing for climate change.
Mixed results on biomedical research funding and public-health initiatives
In California, voters approved Proposition 56, which will raise cigarette taxes by $2 per pack and put the money toward public health programs, including cardiovascular and pulmonary disease research. But in Colorado, voters turned back Amendment 72, which would have also invested some revenues in research. And in Montana, voters said no to Initiative 181, which would have spent $20 million over 10 years on a biomedical research authority for disease research grants, especially neurological ones.
Oregon approves wildlife measure
Voters, by a 69.4% to 30.6% margin, approved Measure 100, which will seek to crack down on wildlife trafficking by banning sales and purchases of animal parts from a dozen species: elephants, rhinoceroses, whales, tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, pangolins, sea turtles, sharks (except the spiny dogfish), and rays. The measure—which has parallels with Washington state’s successful 2015 measure backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen—does include several exemptions, including for “the donation of a covered animal species part or product to a bona fide scientific or education institution for scientific or educational purposes.”
Controversial solar measure loses in Florida
Amendment 1 came up well short of the necessary 60%-plus-1 support for approval, with only 50.8% of voters saying yes. The measure, supported by major electric utilities, was framed as encouraging homeowners to install solar panels while not forcing nonsolar households to subsidize it. But it came under fire from consumer activists and climate activists (including former Vice President Al Gore), who argued that deceptive language in the amendment would have effectively barred Floridians from selling their excess home-generated solar power back to utilities. Additionally, Floridians already have the right to install their own solar panels.
Pot wins high marks
Finally, marijuana had a good day at the ballot box. Voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada approved measures legalizing recreational marijuana and regulating or taxing it to various degrees. Only in Arizona was recreational marijuana turned back. Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota voted to legalize marijuana for certain medicinal uses, and Montana voted to expand its 2004 medical marijuana law.