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These Are the Ballot Measure Decisions Grocers Need to Know

Minimum wage, taxes on groceries, marijuana legalization among the pressing issues
Photograph: Shutterstock

In addition to Democrats taking the House and other huge 2018 midterm Election Day decisions, important ballot measure decisions were brought up that could have huge implications for grocers across numerous states.

As such, FMI rounded up some of the ballot decisions most likely to have an impact on retailers.

According to FMI, "It is important not to let the high drama over control of the U.S. Congress distract from several equally important policy questions that were decided at the state level." 

Highlights of the issues addressed include marijuana legalization in Michigan; Arkansas and Missouri deciding to raise minimum wage to $11 an hour starting in 2021; a curtail of new taxes on groceries in Washington; Medicaid expansions in Idaho and Utah; and new restrictions on livestock confinement in California. 

Here is a breakdown of some of the decisions that will (and won't) come into play as the term progresses:

Minimum Wage

Arkansas voted to pass Issue 5, which will raise the state minimum wage from $8.50 to $9.25 at the start of the new year, with a rise to $10 an hour that will be implemented on Jan. 1 2020, and $11 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2021.

Missouri’s Proposition B: $12 Wage Initiative, which also passed, aims to raise the minimum wage from its current $7.85 per hour to $8.60 per hour, followed by annual increases of 85 cents per hour until it reaches $12 in 2023.

Grocery Taxes

Both Oregon and Washington put forward initiatives to eliminate or curtail taxes on groceries, but only Washington’s less extreme version passed. The Oregon Measure 103: The YES! Keep our Groceries Tax Free Initiative aimed to prohibit state, municipal corporation and other political subdivision taxes, as well as municipal corporation taxes, fees or assessments on the distribution or sale of groceries, which were classified as raw or processed food or beverages intended for consumption, excluding alcohol, marijuana and tobacco.

On the other hand, the Washington Initiative 1634: The YES on Affordable Groceries Measure will prohibit new or increased local fees, taxes or assessments on groceries under the same description, but will allow any taxes, fees and assessments that were in place Jan. 15, 2018, to remain intact.

Medicaid Expansion

Medicaid was approved for expansion in Idaho and Utah, but rejected in Montana.

Idaho will expand eligibility under its Proposition 2: The Idaho Medicaid Expansion Initiative to those under 65 whose income is 133% of the federal poverty level or below and who are not eligible for other state coverage. Utah’s Proposition 3: The Medicaid Expansion Initiative expands Medicaid to include coverage based on income for low-income individuals who previously did not qualify, which will be funded through a 0.15% increase in state sales tax rates.

Montana’s Initiative 185: The Extend Medicaid Expansion and Increase Tobacco Taxes Initiative would have expanded Medicaid coverage for certain low-income adults and would have raised taxes on all tobacco, vaping and e-cigarette products.

Marijuana Legalization/Decriminalization 

Marijuana legalization has been a hot topic recently, and both North Dakota and Michigan put forward proposals on the subject.

Michigan’s proposal 1: The Marijuana Legalization Initiative was approved and will legalize possession, use and cultivation of marijuana for those over 21 years and older and will allow sale through state-licensed retailers subject to a 10% sales tax that will be used to help pay for implementation costs and other things associated with the new industry.

Meanwhile, North Dakota’s Measure 3: The Marijuana Legalization and Automatic Expungement Initiative was shot down and would have removed marijuana, hashish and tetrahydrocannabinols from the list of Schedule I controlled substances and would have expunged the records of individuals who had been convicted for possessing these items.

Livestock Restrictions

California passed its Proposition 12: The Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, which will establish new space requirements for confining veal calves and breeding pigs, while requiring all egg-laying hens to be raised cage-free by Dec. 31, 2021.

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