Voters in 38 states Tuesday will decide upon 174 statewide ballot measures, and perhaps luckily, none are specifically about food safety. But like California’s highly touted Proposition 37 to require labeling of food made from genetically modified crops, several states are deciding on ballot measures that at least kick around the edges of food safety with hunting, fishing, trapping and farm practices all being subjects of various ballot measures in a half dozen states. Overall, the states that use the ballot box to decide issues in addition to candidates are deciding on about the same number of mesures that they did in 2010, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). This year, a state-by-state analysis by NCSL shows 12 popular referenda, 42 citizen initiatives, and 115 bills referred to the people by a state legislative body. In California, Proposition 37 started out with polling that said it could get as much as 90 percent of the vote. Now however, it is ending in a likely nail-biter after more than $50 million was allied against it by food manufacturers and California’s mostly liberal editorial writers overwhelmingly found the measure poorly drafted and likely to end up in lawsuits against California’s own farmers and retailers. While a full-blown California initiative campaign grabs attention nationwide, most of the other measures have not been gotten much out-of-state attention, and often not much instate either. Still voters will decide these issues: HJR 2 in Idaho -Rights to Hunt, Fish, & Trap This proposed amendment would provide that the rights to hunt, fish and trap are a valued part of Idaho’s heritage and would preserve these rights for the people of Idaho and manage these rights through the laws of the state. This amendment specifies that hunting, fishing and trapping shall be a preferred means of managing wildlife. This amendment does not create a right to trespass or affect rights to divert or appropriate water. This amendment also will not prevent the suspension or revocation of licenses issued by the state for hunting, fishing or trapping. TBD 1 in Kentucky –  Right to Hunt, Fish, & Harvest Wildlife Adds a new section to the constitution: The citizens of Kentucky have the personal right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, using traditional methods, subject only to statutes enacted by the Legislature, and to administrative regulations adopted by the designated state agency to promote wildlife conservation and management and to preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. This section shall not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights, or the regulation of commercial activities. Amendment 2 in Nebraska – Establish the Right to Hunt, to Fish, and to Harvest Wildlife A vote FOR this constitutional amendment would set forth a constitutional right to hunt, to fish, and to harvest wildlife and would designate public hunting, fishing, and harvesting of wildlife as a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. The right set forth by this constitutional amendment would be subject to certain laws, rules, and regulations, and this constitutional amendment would not be construed to modify current laws relating to trespass or property right laws or constitutional provisions pertaining to water. A vote AGAINST this constitutional amendment would result in the right to hunt, to fish, and to harvest wildlife not being added to the Constitution of Nebraska and public hunting, fishing, and harvesting of wildlife not being designated a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. Measure 3 in North Dakota -Relating to the Practices of Farming and Ranching The right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state. No law shall be enacted which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices. Measure 81 in Oregon – Prohibits commercial non-tribal fishing with gillnets in “inland waters,” allows seine nets Current law allows commercial salmon fishing in Columbia River only with gillnets; requires recreational salmon fishers’ percentage share of overall salmon catch to be readjusted annually; allows issuing of gillnet permits within limit of 200; recognizes gillnet licenses as valid in Columbia River in both Oregon and Washington waters. Measure bans commercial gillnet fishing by non-tribal fishers in Oregon “inland waters” (defined); requires Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to permit use of “seine nets” (defined) instead; ensures that recreational salmon fishers’ percentage of overall salmon catch remains at 2007-2011 levels; prohibits purchase of salmon caught by gillnet by non-tribal fishers in Oregon inland waters; prohibits issuing of additional gillnet permits; repeals statute recognizing validity of gillnet licenses in Oregon and Washington waters. Other provisions. Amendment B in WyomingRight to Hunt, Fish and Trap This resolution places on the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment stating that the opportunity to fish, hunt and trap wildlife is a heritage that shall forever be preserved to the individual citizens of the State.
 The constitutional amendment would specify that the opportunity protected is subject to regulation as prescribed by law and does not create a right to trespass on private property, diminish other private rights or alter the duty of the State to manage wildlife. According to NCSL, in addition to the emphasis on animal rights, including hunting and fishing rights and protection for farming and ranching practices, this year’s trends include:

  • Education, particularly the funding of education through tax increases.
  • Drug policy, most notably the legalization of recreational marijuana in three states.
  • Marriage, a perennial issue on statewide ballots over the past decade, although this year there are several twists.
  • Health care, with states continuing to debate the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Abortion, casinos, criminal justice and elections round out this year’s set of trending issues on statewide ballots in addition to bonds and administrative decisions.

For more information on any of the 174 ballot measures being decided by voters in 2012, NCSL has a fully searchable data base.