According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), voters in six states considered 31 ballot measures on November 5. Three of the six states had measures on their ballots that are of interest to the dental education community.
There were two ballot measures (see question 2 and 5) in Maine that would increase funding for the University of Maine System and the Maine Community College System. Both measures passed on November 5. With regard to Question 2 and the bond for the University of Maine System, 60.2% of voters approved the bond measure. 64.9% of voters approved Question 5, the $15.5 million bond for the Maine Community College System.
Question 2 stated, “Do you favor a $15.5 million bond issue to enhance educational and employment opportunities for Maine citizens and students by updating and improving existing laboratory and classroom facilities of the University of Maine System statewide?”
Question 5 stated, “Do you favor a $15.5 million bond issue to upgrade buildings, classrooms and laboratories on the seven campuses of the Maine Community College System in order to increase capacity to serve more students through expanded programs in health care, precision machining, information technology, criminal justice and other key programs?”
On May 14, H.J.R. 79 passed both chambers and was filed with the Texas Secretary of State. H.J.R. 79 eliminates a requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, and puts the issue up for vote during the next general election.
According to the author of the bill, Rep. Dan Branch (R-TX), a Legislative Budget Board (LBB) performance report issued to the legislature in the mid-1980s found the success of the State Rural Medical Education Board (since renamed the State Medical Education Board) questionable and recommended that the board be abolished. The LBB found that only a small percentage of the people who had received loans administered by the board were practicing medicine in rural Texas counties, with only a slightly larger percentage of those individuals practicing in areas designated as medically underserved. According to Rep. Branch, no new loans have been made by the board in more than 25 years, and the board currently has no appointees and receives no program funding.
During the November 5 election, 84.6% of the voters, or 946,299 Texans, cast a vote in favor of eliminating a requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund.
Proposition 2 stated, “The constitutional amendment eliminating an obsolete requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is operational.”
In 2007, Initiative Measure No. 960 was passed by voters. The measure required two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval for tax increases, legislative approval of fee increases, certain published information on tax-increasing bills, and advisory votes on taxes enacted without voter approval. As a result of the 2007 measure, any tax extension is deemed a tax increase and those taxes enacted without voter approval must appear on election ballots as advisory votes. According to staff at the Office of the Secretary of State in Washington, advisory votes do not change the law, but instead are essentially notices to the state legislature that the public either agrees or disagrees with the legislature’s action.
According to the Office of the Secretary of State in Washington, section 3(6)(c) of H.B. 1846 (1) removes the exemption for pediatric oral services offered as essential health benefits outside the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. Since these services have previously been exempted, this will result in additional revenue for the insurance premium tax. However, the amount of taxable activity resulting from pediatric oral health care services benefits cannot be estimated. Consequently, the amount of additional revenue attributed to pediatric oral services offered as essential health benefits outside the Health Benefit Exchange is indeterminate.
During the November 5 election, 60.48% of the voters, or 937,473 Washington state residents, voted to repeal the tax increase.
Advisory Vote No. 5 stated, “The legislature extended, without a vote of the people, the insurance premium tax to some insurance for pediatric oral services, costing an amount that cannot currently be estimated, for government spending. This tax increase should be: repealed or maintained.”
(1) According to the Washington State Dental Association, HB 1846 was passed to clarify the state rule-making process on how pediatric dental benefits can be offered outside of the health benefit exchange in 2015. Another provision of the bill removed a tax exemption afforded to pediatric dental services. This means insurance carriers will pay a higher tax on income they receive for pediatric dental services.