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Pot, Gay Marriage, Suicide Are Ballot-item Topics

California labor unions are the target of another measure, aimed at depriving them of tens of millions of dollars they use to finance campaigns and political organizing.

Proposition 32 would prohibit corporations and unions from collecting money for state political activities from employees or members through paycheck deductions. It would hit unions hardest: Corporations don't typically deduct money from employee pay for state political activities, but unions do use the practice to fill their political coffers.

The battle over Proposition 32 follows conflicts in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and elsewhere where Republican efforts to weaken organized labor have produced protests and political tumult.

In Michigan, labor unions are fighting back. On Nov. 6, voters there will be deciding on a first-of-its-kind ballot initiative that would put collective bargaining rights in the state constitution â¿¿ and out of lawmakers' reach.

If successful, the strategy could serve as a model for other states, encouraging unions to bypass hostile officeholders and take their case directly to voters.

"Labor is on the defensive," said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research organization in Washington, D.C. "This could very well be a turning point if the people of Michigan affirm collective bargaining."

Other notable ballot measures:

â¿¿ In Alabama, Montana, Florida and Wyoming, voters have an opportunity to weigh in on one key aspect of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul in the form of Republican-backed measures stating that no individual or business can be compelled to participate in a health care system. The measures are viewed as largely symbolic; they would violate federal law and any attempt to enforce them would likely wind up in the courts.

â¿¿ Maryland voters will decide whether to uphold or overturn a new state law allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public colleges if their parents have paid taxes and if the students have attended Maryland schools.

Stock quotes in this article: DD, MON 

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