Ballot initiatives related to environmental issues were put before voters across the nation during the November elections.
In what may have been the most closely watched environmental campaign, Arizona voters defeated a controversial “Private Property Rights Protection Act” by nearly 60 percent to 40 percent, even though it was backed by a governor who won re-election.
The measure would have required that the state assess potential private property losses before imposing new rules and regulations. If approved, all state agencies would have had the power to block any environmental or other rule that were found to reduce the value of private property.
Had the proposal passed, observers said it would have been the toughest law passed by any state to discourage what private property advocates consider the illegal regulatory “taking” of private property.
In other environmental initiatives:
- Arkansas voters approved by 65 percent to 35 percent a measure to raise the state sales tax by one-eighth of a cent with the proceeds to be dedicated to state parks.
- In a battle that pitted a group called “Save our Seafood” against one called “Save our Sealife,” Floridians voted more than 2-to-1 in favor of banning gill-net fishing in Florida waters. The measure, expected to be challenged in court, bans the use of the nets up to three miles off the Atlantic coast and nine miles in the Gulf of Mexico.
- In Massachusetts, an initiative to limit corporate spending on ballot questions was defeated. Environmentalists had backed the initiative after an $8 million campaign by the paper and plastics industries contributed to the 1992 defeat of initiatives on recycling and polluter liability. Opponents of this year’s initiative outspent supporters more than 15 to 1.
- Michigan residents voted 3-to-1 to create an endowment fund for state parks. The fund will eventually total up to $800 million and be used to maintain and improve the state’s more than 90 parks. The fund will include $10 million, or 50 percent, of annual oil and gas revenues from state lands, whichever is less.
- In Oregon, an initiative that would have required that exhausted open-pit mines be restored to their previous condition was defeated.