Delving Into the Election Results: What it Means for Travel Plazas -- State Ballot Initiatives

NATSO has planned a detailed post-election analysis and preview of the next Congress and Presidential Administration for lunch on Monday, January 23, 2017, during The NATSO Show.

In the coming weeks before the detailed analysis in Savannah, NATSO will be taking a “deep dive” into the 2016 election results, examining what they mean for the various public policy issues that affect the truckstop and travel plaza industry.

Today, NATSO examines a variety of different state ballot initiatives that voters considered on Nov. 8.

On Election Day, voters don't only choose their leaders, but they often act as quasi-legislators. Indeed, the infamous "ballot initiative," when voters can bring about a public vote on a proposed statute or state constitutional amendment, is an often-overlooked vehicle for enacting policies that -- for one reason or another -- don't make their way through the state legislature.

In 2016, voters in many states considered ballot initiatives that were very important for the truckstop and travel plaza industry. Below is a sampling of some of the most significant initiatives and how they fared, divided by policy area.

Transportation Funding

Alabama -- Alabama voters rejected a measure that would have allowed the establishment of toll districts and the issuance of revenue bonds within Baldwin County.

Illinois -- Illinois voters approved an amendment that blocks lawmakers from using transportation funds for anything other than their stated purpose.

Maine -- Maine voters approved a measure directing the state to issue $100 million in bonds for transportation projects.

New Jersey -- New Jersey voters approved a measure that required all revenue from gas taxes to be devoted toward transportation projects.

Business Taxes

California -- California voters approved extending for an additional 12 years a personal income tax increase on incomes over $250,000 previously approved in 2012.

Louisiana -- Louisiana voters approved a measure to eliminate the corporate deduction for federal income taxes on state income taxes and replace the staggered 4 percent to 8 percent corporate tax rate to a flat 6.5 percent rate.

Missouri -- Missouri voters approved an initiative to renew the existing sales and use tax of 0.1 percent for 10 years to fund state parks. Missouri voters also approved a measure that would prohibit state and local governments from imposing any new sales tax or use tax on services.

Oklahoma -- Oklahoma voters defeated an initiative that would have increased the state sales tax by 1 percent.

Oregon -- In one of the most closely watched ballot initiatives this year, Oregon voters rejected a proposal that would have required C corporations that have Oregon sales of more than $25 million to pay a 2.5 percent tax on all gross profits above $25 million. NATSO strongly opposed this measure, as it would have substantially increased the costs of doing business in Oregon, and its passage would likely have prompted other states to initiate similar efforts.

Minimum Wage

Four states approved ballot initiatives to raise the state minimum wage:

1) Arizona -- $12/hour by 2020 (with paid time off).

2) Colorado -- $12/hour by 2020.

3) Maine -- $12/hour by 2020.

4) Washington -- $13.50 by 2020.


Energy and Environment

California -- California voters approved a measure that would have banned certain plastic carryout bags.

Washington -- Washington state voters defeated an initiative that would have imposed a carbon emission tax on the sale or use of certain fossil fuels and fossil-fuel-generated electricity.

Tobacco

California -- California voters approved an increase in the California cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack and voted to raise the tax rate on all other tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, an equivalent amount.

Colorado -- Colorado voters rejected a measure that would have increased the Colorado cigarette tax by $1.75 per pack.

Missouri -- Missouri voters rejected a measure that would have increased the cigarette tax each year through 2020.

North Dakota -- North Dakota voters rejected a measure that would have increased the cigarette tax by $1.76 per pack.

Soda Tax

Voters across two states approved all four ballot initiatives implementing a tax on sugary beverages. Voters in San Francisco, Oakland, and Albany, Calif., all passed 1-cent-per-ounce taxes on sugary drinks. These initiatives pitted the American Beverage Association against former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- a longtime supporter of soda taxes -- in one of the most expensive local ballot campaigns in the country. Taxes on sugary beverages could become a frequent battle across all levels of government in the coming years. Additionally, voters in Boulder, Colo., approved a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sodas. These cities all joined Philadelphia and Berkeley, Calif., in levying an excise tax on sugary drinks, as well as Mexico.

David Fialkov's photo

David Fialkov

David Fialkov is the Vice President of Government Relations, as well as the Legislative and Regulatory Counsel, at NATSO. In this capacity, Mr. Fialkov direct's NATSO's legislative, regulatory, and legal strategy on a range of issues, including transportation, energy and fuels, labor, data security, and taxes. Mr. Fialkov also oversees NATSO's political engagement program, including individualized legal and political counsel to member companies. Prior to joining NATSO, Mr. Fialkov was the senior associate in the Government Affairs and Public Policy practice at the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson in Washington, D.C. At Steptoe, Mr. Fialkov advised clients on legislative, regulatory, and political issues, as well as legal concerns. His primary clients included trade associations representing the motor fuel wholesale and retail industries, including the National Association of Convenience Stores and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America. Mr. Fialkov's focus was not only on the motor fuels business, but also the litany of other issues that retailers confront, including labor matters, foodservice issues, healthcare and employment issues, tax matters and data security. Prior to joining Steptoe, Mr. Fialkov graduated with honors from George Washington University Law School. He received his B.S. Summa cum laude with highest honors from Clark University in Worcester, MA. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife Allison and daughter Lilah. More
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