The Public Question on the 2009 New Jersey Ballot was passed on November 3rd, also known as the Green Acres, Water Supply and Floodplain Protection, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Bond Act of 2009, if you don't prefer brevity. The measure authorizes the State to issue bonds in the amount of $400 million to provide moneys for (1) the acquisition and development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, including lands that protect water supplies, (2) the preservation of farmland for agricultural or horticultural use and production, (3) the acquisition, for recreation and conservation purposes, of properties that are prone to or have incurred flood or storm damage, and (4) funding historic preservation projects; and providing the ways and means to pay the interest on the debt and also to pay and discharge the principal thereof, with full public disclosure of all spending.
The initiative also funds park improvements and facilities. Of the total sum authorized: (1) $218 million will be used for Green Acres; (2) $146 million will be used for farmland preservation purposes; (3) $24 million will be used for the "Blue Acres" program by which the State may purchase from willing sellers, for open space preservation purposes, properties that are prone to or have incurred flood or storm damage; and (4) $12 million will be used for historic preservation purposes. All spending of the authorized bond proceeds will be subject to full public disclosure.
New Jersey citizens passed similar legislation by voting Yes on Public Question 3 in the 2007 General Election. Related ballot measures in other states include:
- Florida: Constitutional Amendment 4 (2008) - Requires Legislature to provide a property tax exemption for real property encumbered by perpetual conservation easements or other perpetual conservation protections, defined by general law.
- Maine: Question 4-Bond Issue (2007) - A $35,500,000 bond issue to invest in land conservation, water access, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation opportunities, including hunting and fishing, farmland and working waterfront and to invest in state parks, historic sites and riverfront, community and farm infrastructure to be matched by at least $21,875,000 in private and public contributions.
- Ohio: Issue 2 (2008) - Authorizing the state to issue up to $200,000,000 of bonds for conservation and preservation of natural areas, open spaces and farmlands and other lands devoted to agriculture, including by acquiring land or interests in land; provision of state and local park and recreation facilities, and other actions that permit and enhance the availability, public use and enjoyment of natural areas in the state; and land, forest, water and other natural resource management projects.
On November 3rd, Question 2 - Citizen Initiative, a Maine ballot measure to Decrease the Automobile Excise Tax and Promote Energy, failed to pass.
This bill aimed to decrease the excise tax imposed on motor vehicles for the first year from 24 mills** to 12 mills, for the 2nd year from 17 1/2 mills to 8 mills and for the 3rd year from 13 1/2 mills to 4 mills and imposes a 4 mills rate for the 4th and succeeding years. This bill would have also exempted from the excise tax imposed on motor vehicles the first 3 model years of a hybrid gasoline-electric vehicle, a fuel-cell-fueled or hydrogen-fueled vehicle or a highly energy efficient vehicle that has a highway fuel economy estimate of at least 40 miles to the gallon.
- **PVS Fun Fact - When referring to taxation, a "mill" is equivalent to one-tenth of a cent ($0.001). Therefore the "mill rate" is the tax per dollar of assessed value of property (i.e. 24 mills).
On November 3rd, voters in New York passed Proposal 1-Constitutional Amendment, an amendment to section 1 of article 14 of the Constitution, in relation to the use of certain forest preserve lands by National Grid to construct a 46 kV power line along State Route 56 in St. Lawrence County. The bill authorizes the Legislature to convey up to six acres of forest preserve land along State Route 56 in St. Lawrence County to National Grid for construction of a power line. In exchange, National Grid will convey to the State at least 10 acres of forest land in St. Lawrence County, to be incorporated into the forest preserve. The land to be conveyed by National Grid to the State must be at least equal in value to the land conveyed to National Grid by the State.
The ballot measure passed with a necessary two-thirds majority vote. For a detailed reading of Proposal 1, visit the official elections page of the state of New York by clicking here.
-Stefan Johansson, Research