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Maine votes down ban on late-term abortion, yes on medical marijuana

SHARE Maine votes down ban on late-term abortion, yes on medical marijuana

Maine defeated a ban on certain late-term abortions and approved a proposal to legalize medical marijuana Tuesday as voters elsewhere decided on measures ranging from banning ATM fees to fluoridating water.

With more than two-thirds of precincts reporting, the anti-abortion proposal lost with 154,580, or 55 percent, opposed and 126,116, or 45 percent, in favor. The medical marijuana measure had 130,752 votes, or 61 percent, to 82,666, or 39 percent.Voters in San Francisco were deciding for the first time anywhere on extra charges of $1, $2 or more for using another bank's automated teller machine. Oregonians weighed whether to allow murder convictions by an 11-1 jury vote instead of a unanimous one.

The ballot in Missoula, Mont., featured an initiative that would set a local minimum wage of $8 an hour with benefits for municipal employees and private employees whose companies get $5,000 or more in city assistance. (The federal minimum wage is $5.15. Some 40 U.S. cities and counties have such laws in some form.)

In Washington state, voters considered America's most sweeping tax-revolt proposal -- a ballot measure coupling a big car-tax cut with veto power over all future taxes and fees.

It would substitute an annual fee of $30 per car to replace a much-maligned tax of 2.2 percent of the vehicle's value -- hundreds of dollars for many motorists -- for a tax break worth $750 million a year.

The measure also would require state and local officials to go to the electorate anytime they wanted to raise a tax or fee -- a basic shift of tax-writing power that no other state has adopted to this degree.

Nearly the entire political establishment, from Gov. Gary Locke down to town councils, was united in opposition, joined by an unlikely coalition of business, labor and environmentalists.

Overshadowed by the fight over car fees was a proposal to ban most commercial fishing nets from Washington waters.

Supporters said the initiative would take a big step toward preserving the state's salmon runs. Foes said the measure would cripple an entire industry, wiping out hundreds and maybe thousands of jobs.

The Maine referendum to ban what abortion-rights opponents call partial-birth abortion is similar to measures adopted in some 30 states, though the courts have barred or sharply restricted 20 states from enforcing them. With recent court decisions going both ways, the showdown seems headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

The medicinal-marijuana referendum authorizes possession and use for specific medical conditions when patients are advised by a doctor they might benefit from the drug. The list of qualifying ailments includes loss of appetite from AIDS or cancer treatments, glaucoma and seizures. Voter approval means the legislation could take effect within 60 days.

Since 1996, five states -- California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Arizona -- and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana initiatives.

Also in Maine, Falmouth residents soundly rejected a ballot measure that would have nullified a homosexual-rights ordinance adopted unanimously by the Town Council last spring.

In Indiana, the city of Connersville was deciding whether to shed its status as the largest city in the state without fluoridated water.

Dentists and other proponents cited studies that show the city has a 20 percent higher rate of cavities than the state average, while opponents argued that introduction of fluoride into public water systems is a government conspiracy.

In a nonbinding referendum resulting from changing attitudes in the posh Sun Valley area, the city of Ketchum, Idaho, was re-examining the 25-year-old tradition for a mock six-gun shoot-out on Main Street during the community's annual Wagon Days festival.

Among other measures:

-- Voters approved a $2.3 billion bond issue for 28 statewide road improvements in Colorado, including widening congested Interstate 25, which runs through Denver. A measure to expand a light-rail system in the Denver area also passed.

-- A constitutional amendment to restrict Mississippi state legislators to back-to-back terms was defeated 232,602 to 185,051, or 56 percent to 44 percent. The state has a history of long-serving politicians.