A summary of the ballot issues

Reuben Mees I’ve had several people ask me to explain the five statewide issues and how I’m voting on them recently. So, I thought I would lay out my positions a little better for both myself and the edification of any voters out there who are not sure exactly what all the mumbo-jumbo at the end of the ballot this year means.

I’m going to start with the most controversial of the issues although it is last on the ballot: Casino gambling. Or more appropriately the constitutional amendment that would let one casino operator offer casino gambling in Ohio.

I’m not a big fan for several reasons, none of which have much to do with gambling.

Although I’m not a high-roller myself, I have visited casinos in Las Vegas, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast and find them entertaining if players don’t overspend their limits.

That being said, I think it’s a terrible idea to rewrite a section of the state constitution for a single business. About half the language is a legal description of a property — not something I want in my constitution. If I approve a constitutional amendment on gambling it would be a blanket one that would give state legislators and a state gaming commission authority to issue a set number of permits to casino operators that submit applications.

And the taxation issue. Is there a loophole, as opponents say? I think there is. While the gaming tax starts at 30 percent, the casino’s tax would be the lesser of 25 percent or the tax a future casino pays. If, theoretically, a new casino was allowed in the state with no gaming tax requirements, the casino authorized in this constitutional amendment would also not be required to pay gaming taxes.

Therefore, I think it’s a bad idea and will vote no.

Other issues

Keep in mind I’m no fan of constitutional amendments for specific legislative matters and think state legislators should have the authority to make most of these decisions in the course of the work we pay them to do.

Issue 1: Earlier filing deadlines for statewide ballot issues

This is a minor change to the existing constitution that would require petitioners seeking statewide ballot access to file 125 days before an election.

I agree with election personnel and think it could streamline the election process and save taxpayers some money down the line. I’ll vote yes.

Issue 2: $200 million in bonds for Clean Ohio Act

An issue I believe should be dealt with by legislators, but one I have mixed emotions about. The money being borrowed would be used to help preserve natural areas, green spaces and agricultural land. It was this money that funded the purchase of Renee and Alan Winner’s permanent agricultural easement to keep the land as farmland.

On the other hand, $200 million could go a long way toward helping Ohio attract or retain industry and jobs in these tough economic times. I’ll have to decide this one at the polls.

Issue 3: Protecting water rights for private property owners

Again, I don’t like it as an amendment, but I’ll probably support it. It is supposed to help protect private property owners to make sure they are not denied access to the water that flows across their land in the future.

Issue 4: Removed from the ballot

Issue 5: Payday lending

This is an issue the Legislature did weigh in on. Do you agree with their decision that the annual percentage rates charged by the payday lending companies are too high? I tend to agree and will probably vote yes to keep the changes legislators approved.

To recap:
1. Yes
2. Undecided
3. Yes
5. Yes
6. No

Reuben Mees is a staff writer for the Examiner. He can be reached at 592-3060, ext. 118 or via e-mail at rmees@examiner.org.