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DIY politics when elected politicians don’t serve the people

Last issue, we listed some citizen initiatives that would have contributed to more stable and healthy lives for families and communities. We went back to see which ones won and which ones lost:


San Franciscans notched up the tax on real estate transfers to put money into affordable housing, and also authorized the city to build 10,000 units of low income housing. In Georgia, they decided to exempt federally qualified nonprofits from paying property tax when they build low income housing. King County voters agreed that the city could sell land at below-market prices if it’s for low income housing. On the downside, voters in California denied local jurisdictions the ability to cap rent increases—but left intact a law that caps increases in commercial property taxes.

Chipping away at inequities

Thumbs up in San Francisco for the “Overpaid CEO tax” on companies who pay their CEO a salary more than 100 times the amount paid to their median employee. In Arizona, voters passed a tax on incomes above $250,000 to fund increases in teachers’ salaries and improve schools. In Denver and several other Colorado cities voters overwhelmingly gave their municipalities authority to provide “fiber to the home.”

Working to live, not living to work

Statewide paid medical and family leave won in Colorado (12 weeks for family, 16 for a new child) making the state one of only 12 (including Washington)—and of course the rest of the industrial world! Florida passed an increase to $15/hour in the state minimum wage (oops not reached until 2025). On the downside, lots of people driving for Lyft and Uber got stiffed when those companies funded a California referendum that overturned fair employment requirements.

Toward majority rule in politics

Californians voted to restore voting rights to “ex-felons” including people on parole. Alaskans passed Ranked Choice Voting (it lost in Massachusetts). Oregon voters decided on new restrictions on campaign finance. Coloradans decided to make their state the 15th to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. This means those states’ electors will vote for the national popular vote winner, regardless of the outcome in their state. Once states equal to 270 electoral votes, the Electoral College will be irrelevant.

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