A Casino in York County? Gas Taxes in Louisiana? Ballot Measures 2017: Part II
Out of the limelight of national politics, there are twenty-one ballot measures across eight states on the ballot this year, addressing issues that range from a crime victim’s bill of rights in Ohio to casino expansion in Maine. Last week, we looked at four such measures — we continue that series today.
Maine Casino or Slot Machines in York County Initiative
Election Date: November 7, 2017
Summary of the Issue: This initiative would allow for the construction of slot machines or a casino in York County, Maine. The measure repeals Maine policy that any casino or slot machine facility not be operated within a 100-mile radius of another licensed facility. It also raises the number of slot machines permitted in Maine from 3,000 to 4,500.
What a Yes/No Vote Means: By voting “yes,” the Maine Gambling Control Board will be authorized to accept applications for a license to operate slot machines or a casino in York County, Maine. By voting “no,” slot machines and casinos will not be authorized in York County.
Impact: Supporters argue the increased revenue makes the expansion worthwhile. The government will impose a 39% tax on net income from slot machines and a 16% tax on net income from table games. Tax revenue would be distributed to provide supplemental funds to horse racing purses (the money owed to a horse’s owner after winning a race), to the Maine Department of Education, and other causes. Lawmakers in opposition, particularly Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason and Representative Louis Luchini, say that the measure is deceptive; it mainly benefits one person — the only approved casino proprietor, Shawn Scott. Councilor Ben Sprague stated, “I have some serious questions about crafting a question in such a way to only allow one special interest to pursue the project.”
Texas Definition of Professional Sports Team in Charitable Raffles Amendment, HJR 100 (2017)
Election Date: November 7, 2017
Summary of the Issue: In 2015, the Texas legislature unanimously passed the Professional Sports Team Charitable Foundation Raffle Enabling Act, permitting certain professional sports teams’ charitable foundations to hold charity raffles at home games. Professional sports teams, as defined by the Act, only include major league sports. This proposed amendment is meant to expand the definition of sports team to include minor league teams, motorsports racing, and Professional Golf Association events. It would also allow the use of debit card as an acceptable form of payment for raffle tickets.
What a Yes/No Vote Means: By voting “yes,” the definition of professional sports team will be expanded for the purpose of deciding which charitable foundations are allowed to hold charitable raffles. By voting “no,” the definition of professional sports team will remain as it is.
Impact: Supporters of the amendment claim that they are only expanding the number of sports teams eligible to participate in holding charitable raffles, and that no change in administration of raffles would occur. Proponents also argue that these charitable raffles will fund programs that provide scholarships for disadvantaged youth to participate in community basketball leagues, programs, trainings, and tournaments. Opponents claim that expanding the definition could eventually allow less well-established teams to hold charitable raffles, even if their organization is in a tenuous financial position.
Louisiana Dedicate New Taxes on Fuel to Transportation Construction Fund Amendment
Election Date: October 14, 2017
Summary of the Issue: Louisiana, in an effort to address current issues of an underdeveloped and decaying urban infrastructure, is proposing implementation of new taxes on gasoline, diesel, and special fuels in order to generate revenue for the Transportation Trust Fund. This revenue would then be used to help with costs associated with construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, ports, airports, and public transit.
What a Yes/No Vote Means: By voting “yes”, the state of Louisiana would proceed to levy a new tax on gasoline and diesel fuels, placing the revenue into the Transportation Trust Fund. By voting “no,” transportation infrastructure in Louisiana would maintain status quo expansion and maintenance.
Impact: According to supporters of the law, funding for transportation in Louisiana has stagnated significantly. With gas consumption expected to begin declining over the next decade, the revenue base will begin shrinking, and it may become a now or never situation for implementing gas taxes. The added revenue would provide the Louisiana Department of Transportation with extra funding to modernize and maintain Louisiana’s infrastructure. Opponents of the law say it is irresponsible, because the revenue raised from levying this tax will not yield the significant funds needed to complete an appreciable number of vital projects. They insist the tax will substantially impact lower-income Louisianans as they see gas prices rise.
Ohio Crime Victim Rights Initiative (2017)
Election Date: November 7, 2017
Summary of the Issue: Though there are laws for crime victims’ rights in Ohio, many believe that these laws do not adequately ensure the victim’s safety, dignity and privacy. Therefore, a new amendment is being proposed: Marsy’s Law. Marsy’s Law is moving through many state throughout the country, with the aim to expand the constitutional rights of crime victims by altering rights to information, privacy, and fair treatment.
What a Yes/No Vote Means: By voting “yes,” Section 10a of Article I of the Ohio Constitution, which addresses the rights of crime victims, will be repealed and replaced by a Marsy’s Law, which enumerates ten rights for crime victims, including the right to fair treatment, providing a notice of public proceedings involving the crime, and the right to refuse interviews with the accused. By voting “no,” Section 10a of Article I of the Ohio Constitution will remain as it is.
Impact: Supporters of the amendment claim that current laws are inadequate in protecting the rights of crime victims. With the new amendment, this injustice can be rectified. Those who oppose the amendment are concerned that the law will only serve to flip the injustice to the side of the defendant by giving victims more rights than defendants. They claim that the amendment would override state law and make it difficult for judges to balance the rights of plaintiffs and defendants.
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By Roman Ruiz, BallotReady Intern