SUNNY SIDE UP
A Peace Newsletter feature reporting on our successes and victories. Submissions are encouraged: pnl@peacecouncil.net

Positive Election Results You May Not Have Heard!

Photo: ArtByD on flickr.com
Not only was this a good year for voter turnout and a strong message to Bush, Inc. to withdraw US forces from Iraq, but this election also signaled a growth for direct democracy. With 205 propositions on the ballot in 37 states, and 79 initiatives - the largest number since the process began in 1902, the people demanded to be heard.

Low wage workers saw important gains, with all six states where it was on the ballot approving raises in the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. Twenty-four states now have laws that supersede the federal regulations.

Eminent domain was on more state ballots than any other issue, with people supporting restrictions on the use of eminent domain for private purposes. Nine states out of 11, New Hampshire, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, North Dakota, Oregon, Nevada and South Carolina, voted to stop the government's taking of property for private projects.

In addition to the well-publicized pro-choice victory in South Dakota, advocates also safeguarded personal privacy rights by defeating laws in California and Oregon that would have required parental notification for an abortion for a minor.

In the area of social issues, education funding fared well in California, Arizona, Nebraska and Rhode Island, with Nevada going furthest by mandating that education funding be appropriated before all other expenditures. Wyoming created funds for higher education scholarships. Affordable housing made gains with Rhode Island approving $50 million in bonds and New Mexico providing additional funds for low-cost housing.

Progress was also made in the expansion of universal suffrage. Voting rights were extended to felons in Rhode Island, and in Maryland, Question #2 won approval allowing for additional appeals to the Court of Special Appeals.

Leading the charge for the environment, as it often does, was California where voters passed Proposition 87 allowing the state to tax oil extracts and use the money for renewable fuel. Over $150 million was spent on the campaign, breaking the record for the highest spending on a ballot proposition. Clean air also received a boost with Arizona, Nevada, and Ohio approving smoking bans.

On the anti-war front, over 20 House members who opposed a June 2006 amendment to close the US Army School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC) lost their seats. This exceeds the 15 vote margin needed. SOA Watch expects a successful vote in the new Congress.

-Donna Muhs-McCarten