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Voters say yes to state taxes, no to antiabortion measures

More than 150 ballot initiatives – on issues from gay marriage to renewable energy – were decided Tuesday.

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Anti-abortion initiatives, one of the most controversial issues in American politics, received a setback in Colorado. In South Dakota, voters rejected a ban on abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or if the pregnancy threatens the mother’s health or life.

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But backers of Colorado’s defeated Amendment 48 (which lost 27-73) – which would have defined life as beginning at conception – claimed new momentum for that issue.

“We were successful in bringing this issue before the nation,” says Christy Burton of the “Yes on 48” campaign. “We believe the more people hear the medical and scientific proof that an unborn child is a person, the more they will agree.”

She says the “Yes” side is taking its campaign to several other states, undeterred by being outspent in Colorado by Planned Parenthood – which received tax dollars for its campaign – and by the opposition from even state Republicans, including Colorado Rep. Bob Schaffer and state party chairman Dick Wadhams.

Likewise for California’s defeated Prop. 7, which would have forced utilities to get half their power from renewable sources by 2025 and approved incentives for developing renewable energy technologies and fuels.

“We’re glad voters recognized that ‘No’ was the green vote on Prop. 7,” said Jan Smutny-Jones, executive director of the Independent Energy Producers Association. “Every group opposed to Prop. 7 strongly supports bringing more alternative energy online in California. But Prop. 7 was poorly-drafted, filled with mistakes, and would have set alternative energy backward, which is why the renewable industry opposed Prop. 7.”

Renewable energy proposal loses

“We need to responsibly increase renewable energy in California as quickly as possible. We look forward to developing policies that will help move the industry forward and ensure California remains the nation’s leader in clean power,” Mr. Smutny-Jones said.

Prop. 7 proponents claimed the measure would increase renewable energy in California. But more than 400 groups opposed it, including renewable energy providers, environmental, labor, business, and consumer groups, saying it was flawed. Economists and consumer advocates warned the initiative would have significantly increased electric bills.

In other measures, Nebraska voted to end the use of affirmative action on the basis of race, gender, or ethnicity.

Payday lenders in Ohio spent over $14 million – as against $250,000 by opponents – to keep voters from repealing a law limiting payday lending. Lenders wanted possible interest rates of 300 percent. Voters wanted closer to 28 percent.

“If you want evidence that voters were voting their pocketbooks in this down economy, you found it in Ohio,” says Kristina Wilfore, executive director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center.

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