In November, voters across the nation will decide who controls Congress, but many will have to also consider almost 150 ballot questions on a range of issues from legalization of marijuana to the minimum wage.
As of September 18, there are 148 statewide ballot questions approved for spots on 41 statewide ballots in November, according to Ballotpedia.org
Just as spending has increased on political advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts, the amount of money being spent on approving or defeating ballot initiatives is likely to eclipse the $1 billion mark, reported The Washington Post
In Alaska, more than $14 million was spent on campaigns for and against Measure 1, which aimed to repeal a bill which grants tax breaks to companies, reports Newsminer.com
The Washington Post noted that oil and gas companies spent more than $170 for every vote they secured in a successful campaign to defeat the measure.
In many states, ballot initiatives are seen as a way to get voters to the polls and to move policy that has failed on a national level.
For example, five states — Alaska, South Dakota, Illinois, Arkansas, and Nebraska — will address minimum wage levels, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)
In Alaska, the proposal would be a two-step increase from $7.75 to $8.75 effective January 1, 2015 and then to $9.75 effective January 1, 2016.
Arkansas' Initiative 5 also proposes a graduated hike in the minimum wage, but in three, rather than two stages. The final hike would be to $8.50 effective January. 1, 2017.
South Dakota voters will consider a proposal to increase it to $8.50 in 2015, and in subsequent years, the increase would be automatic based on inflation.
Since 2002, all 10 ballot measures to pass the minimum wage have passed, according to The Wall Street Journal
Another hot-button issue is the legalization of marijuana, which is on the ballot in Alaska and Oregon where the issue is whether the states will tax and regulate the production, sale and use of marijuana for adults over 21, according to NCSL
In the District of Columbia, residents will decide to approve or reject Initiative 71, which would legalize possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana for adults, while Floridians will choose whether medical use of marijuana for a specific list of debilitating diseases and conditions will be permissible.
According to NCSL, currently there are 22 states and the District of Columbia with legal access to marijuana for medical or adult-use and since 2013, at least 11 states have proposed and passed new, limited medical marijuana programs.
Always a staple, abortion will be on the ballot in three states in November, according to Politico
Both Colorado and North Dakota will vote on the controversial issue of personhood, which would award legal status to embryos from the point of conception.
Tennessee's Amendment 1 would permit the state Legislature to "enact, amend, or repeal statutes" on abortion.
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