Recreational pot, tampon tax exemption among state ballot measures approved in U.S.

Voters in 37 states considered an array of intriguing ballot measures Tuesday.

Voters considered 155 state-level measures

Voters in 37 states considered ballot measures on transgender rights, abortion and minimum wage, among others, on Tuesday. (Nick Oxford/Reuters)

In the first statewide referendum on transgender rights, Massachusetts voters on Tuesday beat back a repeal attempt and reaffirmed a 2016 law extending non-discrimination protections to transgender people, including their use of public bathrooms and locker-rooms.

Voters in 37 states considered an array of intriguing ballot measures.

Florida voters approved a ballot measure that will restore voting rights to 1.5 million ex-felons when they complete their sentences. That could alter the future election landscape in the country's most populous swing state. The amendment exempts those convicted of sex offences and murder.

Floridians also approved a measure aimed at phasing out greyhound racing in the state, the last stronghold of the sport in the U.S. The measure will ban betting on greyhound races starting in 2021. The sport remains active in five other states, but may be too small in scale to survive.

A minimum wage increase was approved in two states. An Arkansas measure will raise the wage from $8.50 an hour to $11 by 2021; Missouri's will gradually raise the $7.85 minimum wage to $12 an hour.

Slavery language removed

In all, 155 statewide initiatives were on ballots across the country. Most were drafted by state legislatures, but 64 resulted from citizen-initiated campaigns, including many of the most eye-catching proposals.   

Michigan voters made their state the first in the Midwest to legalize recreational marijuana by passing a ballot measure that will allow people 21 or older to buy and use the drug. A similar measure was defeated in North Dakota, meaning there are now 10 states that allow recreational use of pot. Missouri became the 31st state to approve the medical use of marijuana.

Retired police detective Howard (Cowboy) Wooldrige waits for results to come in for Proposal 18-1 during the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol public watch party in Lansing, Mich., on Tuesday. (Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

Voters in Alabama and West Virginia passed  measures that could pave the way for new limits or a full ban on abortion in those states if the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision that legalized abortion and has been reaffirmed by the court in subsequent rulings. 

In Alabama, an amendment to the state's constitution will formally "recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and rights of children, including the right to life" The Republican-backed Amendment 2 does not specifically outlaw or restrict abortion in Alabama. But Republican state Rep. Matt Fridy has said he wrote the measure with the Supreme Court's conservative majority in mind.

"We want to make sure that at a state level, if Roe vs Wade is overturned, that the Alabama Constitution cannot be used as a mechanism by which to claim that there is a right to abortion," Fridy told Fox News in an August interview.

In West Virginia, the state's constitution will be amended to say that "nothing in this constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or funding of abortion."

People in Colorado voted to remove language in the state constitution allowing slavery and involuntary servitude to be used to punish a crime.

North Dakota approved a measure to redefine who is a qualified elector to say "only a citizen."

Alabama OK'd displaying the ten commandments on state property.

Nevada voted to exempt feminine hygiene products from state and local sales taxes.

With files from CBC News, Reuters