Voters will decide five state issues in fall election

Ohioans will face five state issues on the Nov. 4 ballot including four state constitu-tional amendments and a referendum.

However, one issue that will not be on the ballot will be Issue 4, which would have required paid sick leave for employees in Ohio. It was withdrawn by the petitioners.

Here’s a run-down of the issues voters will face on Election Day.

State Issue 1
This is a proposed state constitutional amendment that would revise the deadline for submitting citizen-initiated state ballot issues from 90 to 125 days before the election.

The action would allow the board of elections more time to review the petitions and also give the ballot agency ample time to get the proper ballot language ready.

According to state representatives Jon Peterson and Dan Stewart, Issue 1 would prevent the waste of taxpayer money by eliminating the potential of spending funds on providing ballot information on an issue that may not have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Opponents state that the measure would create delays in new laws taking effect and actually cost more in state issue campaigns because the issue could be put off so long that a larger effort would be needed to get voters’ attention.

State Issue 2
This state constitutional amendment would authorize the state to issue $200 million in bonds for conservation and preservation of natural areas, open spaces, and farmland and other lands devoted to agriculture; and $200 million in bonds for environmental revitalization and redevelopment of publicly and privately owned lands, including environmental remediation, assessment, or clean-up of contamination or pollution.

The amendment is a continuation of  existing Clean Ohio programs.

Proponents, including Gov. Ted Strickland, U.S. senators George Voinovich and Sherrod Brown, and other state leaders, say the measure will ensure clean drinking water, protect waterways, clean up abandoned industrial sites, conserve wildlife habitat, preserve working family farms, and expand outdoor recreation.

Opponents say the issue means the government would spend more in bond money and that taxpayers will have to pay back these bonds. They believe it creates unnecessary debt in a bad economy.

State Issue 3
This is another state constitutional amendment and it is designed to define the rights of property owners who reside near a body of water or who have ground water below their property.

The issue states the property owner has interest in the reasonable use of ground water under the property, water in the neighboring body of water or watercourse, and ensures Ohio law continues to protect these rights.

The argument against the issue is that opponents believe it is unnecessary because the State Supreme Court has already decided property owners have these rights. They also state the issue gives a false sense of security to property owners because the state maintains the right to regulate how water is used.

State Issue 5
This is a referendum regarding House Bill 545 that sets restrictions on short-term loans.

A “no” vote means payday lenders can continue to charge 391 percent annual interest on loans, or $15 per $100 on a two-week loan.

The Committee to Reject HB 545 says the bill eliminates a valid credit choice for citizens, infringes on privacy, and limits consumers to four short-term loans per year. They state it preserves a short-term loan option that is simple, confidential, and often the cheapest available.

A “yes” vote keeps a 28 percent interest cap. The maximum loan amount would be $500 and borrowers would have at least 30 days to repay the loan.

Those supporting HB 545 state the payday lending industry targets the poor and places people in a cycle of debt. They maintain it does not eliminate credit choices, but it does create more affordable small loans.

State Issue 6
Issue 6 is a proposed state constitutional amendment that would permit the construction of a privately owned casino near Wilmington, Ohio, and distribute a tax on the casino to all 88 Ohio counties.

Supporters say the $600 million casino would create up to 5,000 jobs and an additional thousands of construction jobs. It is expected to generate around $200 million in a special tax, most of which will be distributed to each Ohio county based on population. They also state it will allow Ohio to compete with neighboring states for gambling and entertainment consumer dollars.

Opponents state the casino would actually drain money from Ohio sending it to the casino’s out-of-state owners. They add it creates a private monopoly for a lone casino owner and that the jobs the proponents tout are not guaranteed. Additionally, opponents believe the tax revenue language in the amendment has loopholes that could mean Ohio’s counties could receive no revenue from the endeavor. They also doubt it would curtail Ohioans from traveling elsewhere to gamble and could create new gambling addicts.

Information
For complete information on the state ballot issues, visit the Ohio Secretary of State Web site at www.sos.state.oh.us/.

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