06 November 2006

Ohio & Hamilton County Ballot Issues, 2006

Explanations & Recommendations:

Issue 2: Constitutional amendment (Ohio, not U.S.) to raise the minimum wage. This is a well written Issue which increases the minimum wage in reasonable fashion and provides appropriate exemptions (for small family businesses, e.g.). It has much support and will probably pass.

I agree with what this Issue does but I will still vote NO. Why? Because it should be a law, not a constitutional amendment. This Issue does the right thing in the wrong way. There has been a trend recently for groups to force their pet issues onto the constitution instead of the lawbooks. It’s not the right way and it sets a bad precedent.

If this Issue fails, it will not be the end. Democrats in the state legislature can try to pass it as legislation and if that doesn’t work, anybody can just change some words (to make it a law instead of an amendment) and bring it back as an Issue in the next election.

Issue 3: Issue 3 is one of the worst scams I have ever seen. It is special interest politics at its worst.

The gambling lobby has been trying to legalize and expand gambling in Ohio for years. They keep failing but they keep coming back. Issue 3 is their latest attempt. Their tactics have consistently been deceptive and unethical. This year, they poured millions into ads with cute little kids, telling viewers Issue 3 will help them get scholarships.

It’s baloney. Issue 3 is not about education; it is about gambling. The law stipulates that casino owners will get the bulk of the profits TAX FREE. So the kids you saw on those ads will still be paying taxes on their summer jobs while the casino owners who supposedly care so much about them will get several hundred million dollars tax-free.

It’s not hard to see what’s going on here. The only value of Issue 3 is that it provides a good illustration of how special interests corrupt government.

Issues 4 & 5: These are both smoking “bans”. The easiest way to see the difference is to look at who sponsors which Issue.

Here is who backs Issue 4:

R.J. Reynolds
Cigar Association of America
Lorillard Tobacco Co.
National Association of Tobacco Outlets
Retail Tobacco Dealers Association

Here is who backs Issue 5:

American Cancer Society
American Heart Assoc.
American Lung Assoc.
Ohio Hospital Assoc.
Ohio State Medical Assoc.

That’s probably all you need to know, but there is another major difference: Issue 4 is a constitutional amendment whereas Issue 5 is a law. So if both pass, then Issue 4 takes precedence. In other words, Ohio’s smoking laws will have been written by R.J. Reynolds. A law like Issue 5 can be easily repealed or changed by the legislature but an amendment like Issue 4 is much harder to change.

One of the worst effects will be that Issue 4 prevents municipalities from passing their own smoking laws (because local laws cannot supersede the constitution). In other words, if citizens in Madeira or Cincinnati or Akron wanted to enact a local smoking ordinance, they could not do so.

It goes without saying that R.J. Reynolds did not write Issue 4 to decrease their profits. The only circumstance I can think of to vote for Issue 4 is if you have substantial tobacco holdings and stand to gain significant income over the next several years by ensuring that Ohio does not enact a true smoking ban.

The “real” smoking ban is Issue 5, but it really doesn’t change things that much from what we have already. Most businesses already ban smoking and many restaurants already have designated sections. But Issue 5 does require that restaurants actually have an atmospherically separate smoking section and don’t just call one side of the restaurant smoking and the other side non-smoking, for example. (Comedian George Carlin once joked that having a smoking section in a restaurant is like having a peeing section in a pool).

Issue 5 is not an anti-smoking initiative; it is meant to lessen the effects of second-hand smoke, particularly on children and employees of businesses that allow smoking.

You should definitely vote NO on Issue 4. If you’re concerned about smoking and health, then vote YES on Issue 5. If you’re not sure then vote NO on both.

Issue 12: This is a tax levy to pay for a new Hamilton County jail. Although the county does need more jail space, this levy is flawed and should get a NO vote.

Why it is flawed: Tax levies are supposed to collect revenue from sales and/or property taxes for a certain number of years. This levy is a bit different because it was custom made by Carl Lindner and Phil Heimlich. Briefly, Lindner saw an opportunity to reduce his own personal property tax burden. He created a levy which is specifically designed to give substantial property tax breaks to those with large real estate holdings (downtown office buildings, for example). The greater the property value, the greater the tax break. Note that this is exactly the opposite of what a progressive tax structure is supposed to do.

“Lindner’s Levy” makes up the difference by increasing sales taxes. If you think Hamilton County residents should pay more taxes so that Carl Lindner and his associates can pay less, then vote ‘yes’ on Issue 12. Otherwise vote NO.

Issue 13: Children’s Services Levy. These funds are used to assist neglected and abused children. YES.

Issue 14: Health & Hospitalization Levy. This levy reimburses UC and Children’s for their indigent care programs. YES

1 comment:

Mark said...

I was planning to vote yes on Issue 3 just to spite most of the people who opposed it (the GOP group that keeps filling my mailbox). I get to do so few things out of pure spite anymore.