COLUMBUS, OHIO – The November General Election is just around the corner and there are three state issues on the ballot. Two of the issues have had little exposure, and one is a topic of heated debates all over Ohio.
Issue 1 is a proposal to provide support to support Ohio services veterans. If passed, State Ballot Issue 1 would authorize the state to issue bonds providing compensation to veterans of the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The proposal would spend $200,000,000 in the creation of both a retirement and a compensation fund to benefit the veterans of any of these military operations.
In addition, the amendment would allow certain survivors to receive the same compensation as the person who served in the armed forces on the condition that the person has died, is designated as missing in action or is held in enemy captivity. The bonds would be issued only from the effective date of the amendment until December 31, 2013 and, there is a $5,000 death benefit to the family of any service member who is killed in the line of duty during that period.
Those in favor of the issue see the act as a “thank you” to military service men and women as well as their families. Challengers of the proposal say that the measure authorizes a massive debt in a time of financial crisis which will eventually have to be paid back by Ohioans.
Issue 2 is a proposed constitutional amendment to create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. If approved, the amendment would establish a 13-member bipartisan board to oversee agricultural management practices regarding the care of livestock animals and food safety procedures used by producers.
Passage of the proposal would also authorize the Ohio department that regulates agriculture to administer and enforce standards established by the board under the authority of the Ohio General Assembly. According to the explanation listed in the Ohio Issues Report, the board would consist of the following members: a representative for family farmers, a food safety expert, two Ohio farming organization representatives, one private and one state veterinarian, the dean of the agricultural department of an Ohio college, one county humane society representative and two consumer representatives.
Supporters of the proposed amendment say that the creation of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board will ensure livestock well-being, help to maintain food safety, encourage a locally grown and raised food supply and protect Ohio farms and families. Oppositionists argue it is intended to give large factory farms an advantage over smaller, family-owned operations while circumventing the efforts of animal rights organizations to improve livestock care methods. It is also been suggested that the change would expand the reach of state government unnecessarily.
Voters on both sides seem to regard Issue 3 as a big gamble. Hotly debated in the media and town halls across Ohio, Issue 3 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow for one casino in each of the following cities: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo. Each casino would be taxed and the revenue distributed to all Ohio counties. If only it were that simple.
Currently, the Ohio General Assembly must authorize any state-operated lottery or charitable bingo game under Article XV, Section 6 of the Ohio Constitution. The “casino amendment” would authorize gaming at only four facilities in the state.
Tax revenue collected from the casinos is to be divided up in several ways. Fifty-one percent of the revenue will go to Ohio counties based on census population, 34-percent to school districts based on student population, 5-percent to the city where the facility is located, and 3-percent to fund the casino control commission.
One fact left out of the television ads is that, 3-percent of the tax on gross casino revenue is be distributed to an Ohio state racing commission fund to support purses, breeding programs, and operations at all existing commercial horse racetracks. The amendment also deals with alleged crime and addiction issues surrounding casino gambling.
Distribution of the tax revenue provides 2-percent for a state law enforcement training fund to enhance public safety by providing additional training opportunities to the law enforcement community. The final 2-percent of the money will be used to support gambling and substance abuse programs. Besides tax revenue, the proposal also provides for a $50,000,000 upfront license fee from each of the casinos, for a total of $200,000,000 benefiting Ohio’s economic development programs including job training.
Support for the casinos comes mainly from those who suggest that gambling dollars are being taken out of state and that Ohio should benefit from that spending instead. They also suggest that 34,000 jobs will be created by the facilities. There is nothing in the text of the proposed amendment, however, that specifically mentions how many people each casino will employ.
Opponents of Issue 3 say that the proposal sets a ban on all other casino gaming, including “casino nights” offered by churches, fraternal organizations or other charities. They also state that the amendment would impose a hidden tax by failing to limit how much taxpayers must spend to upgrade roads, bridges or necessary infrastructure improvements to accommodate the new facilities.
A complete report on the state issues on the November ballot is available from the website of Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. For more information, contact the Ohio Secretary of State by calling (877) 767-6446 or go online to www.sos.state.oh.us. For local information, stop by your county election office.
Dates to remember regarding November’s general election:
Saturday October 31 (12:00 Noon)
Deadline for electors to deliver, by mail, an absentee ballot application to the board of elections.
Monday November 2 (Close of Business)
Deadline for voting an absentee ballot in person at a county board of elections or designated early voting location for the general election.
Tuesday November 3
Polls open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.