By Josh Altic
In Dane County, a much anticipated advisory referendum question asking county residents if the state of Wisconsin should legalize Marijuana passed easily, with 64.5 percent of voters approving. By approving the question, voters authorized a county resolution calling on state legislators to lead the state in the direction taken by Colorado and Washington. Although this advisory question was a victory for marijuana activists, many were hoping for even higher approval rating to deliver an even stronger message to state law makers. In fact, in November 2010 an almost identical question received 75.5 percent of the vote. This 2010 question, however, took place during a general election, when voter turnout is much higher. The 2014 question, as it was held in April, featured a turnout that was much lower and more likely to consist of older, more conservative voters. Under 64,000 electors cast a vote yesterday, which is very low compared to the 2010 general election turnout of over 210,000. This year's question, however, did receive approval in the village of Dane, the town of Bristol and the town of Black Earth, which are considered more conservative areas of the county.
In the city and county of Eau Claire, voters showed their support of the proposed $50 million Confluence Project to build a new performing arts center, as well as commercial and retail space and student housing. City voters turned down an initiative that, if approved, would have required a citywide vote to authorize city subsidies or contributions of over $1 million to any performing arts related development project. This would have put the city's proposed $5 million subsidy of the Confluence Project on hold until a public referendum in November. County voters approved a question asking if the county should provide a $3.5 million contribution to the project.
- See also: School bond and tax elections in Wisconsin
Wisconsin has a revenue cap that limits the amount of property tax revenue school districts can bring in. If any school district wants to exceed revenue limits, they are required to have a ballot measure. Wisconsin also requires ballot measures for any school bonding that exceeds $1 million dollars. However, Wisconsin has generous exemptions for school districts required to hold bond elections. School districts are exempt from voter approval to issue new bonding if a district is ordered by a state or federal court to remove hazardous substances or to be in compliance with fire standards. Also, school districts are exempt from bond elections if they are purchasing or detaching property from a former consolidated school district.