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The Other Election: State Ballot Measures

No, we don?? know who?? president yet, or what the party split will be in Congress. Sit tight.

But there are other ballot battles going on today: the state ballot measures ?153 according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Among the proposals are several with a bearing on business. including measures on everything from ending affirmative action in government contracting to tax cuts. Read on for a sampling.

Affirmative action: Colorado and Nebraska both have proposals on the ballot that would end affirmative action for state education, hiring and contracting.

Immigration and English: An Arizona ballot-measure would change state-law language prohibiting employers from knowingly hiring an illegal alien. Missouri's ballot could make English the official language of government business.

Taxes: Massachusetts is mulling an outright elimination of state income taxes, phased in over two years. A similar measure was defeated in 2002.

Marriage & benefits: Florida's gay-marriage ban proposal wouldn't ordinarily sound like a business issue, but several big employers -- including a big health insurer -- have warned that it could undermine domestic-partner benefits for heterosexuals as well by prohibiting recognition of other unions. California and Arizona also have gay-marriage proposals on the ballot.

Payday lending: Ohio and Arizona both have ballot measures that would pave the way for high-interest lenders to thrive again. Ohio recently capped loan annual percentage rates at 28%, while Arizona set a 36% limit; many payday loans have APRs that work out to triple digits, thanks to flat fees for loans of one or two weeks to a month. The WSJ had more on the industry's push last month.

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