Election Day: Counties weigh in on referendums
Voters going to the polls next month won’t just be deciding on a president and members of Congress. Ballots in several states, including traditional presidential battleground states, will include referendums that could directly affect county governments, according to the National Association of Counties (NACo).
For example, the Florida Association of Counties opposes Amendment 4, a ballot initiative that would expand the state’s homestead exemption to include second homes and investment properties. The counties association says the measure would reduce available tax revenues, impacting Florida’s local communities by $1.7 billion over four years.
In Virginia, another battleground state, one ballot measure asks voters to approve restricting local governments’ use of eminent domain. The amendment would limit eminent domain to projects that serve the public interest, prohibiting its use when it would primarily be for other goals such as increasing jobs or economic development. The Virginia Association of Counties has not taken a position on the amendment.
County governments in Michigan, meanwhile, have voiced concerns about Proposal 5, a proposal to require a two-thirds supermajority in the state legislature to increase taxes, add new ones or expand the tax base. Voters approval of the measure would affect how much funding counties receive from the state. “A two-thirds vote allows the minority to dictate policy,” a spokesperson for the Michigan Association of Counties told NACo.
Various initiatives affecting counties are also on the ballot in several other states. They include Alabama, Arizona, California, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Oklahoma and West Virginia.