Voters on November 3rd will be confronted with a bevy of important issues when they arrive at the ballot box. (By the way, early voting has already begun. Contact your County Board of Elections and cast your vote today!) As Election Day draws nearer, COSE is providing the below voting guide to help further explain what the following issues are all about.
After careful consideration with the COSE Advocacy Committee and COSE Board, as well as business leaders from around Northeast Ohio, here are COSE’s recommendations on each of the four issues listed below.
Vote NO on Issue 3: Legalized marijuana
One of the more polarizing issues to be decided was brought forward to grant blanket legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use. If passed, this would make Ohio the first state in the country to legalize recreational use and medical use of marijuana at the same time. In the small number of other states that legalized recreational marijuana (four states and the District of Columbia), medical marijuana use laws were in place first before taking the step to legalize recreational use.
The group pushing for this ballot measure is dubbed “ResponsibleOhio” and is made up of a handful of investors that stand to reap the financial benefits should the issue pass; commercial marijuana would only be grown at 10 sites belonging to these individuals. The marijuana monopoly that Issue 3 would allow for has even caused long-time legalization advocates to publicly oppose it. But, beyond the questions this proposed Constitutional amendment raises and the unknown effects of legalization, there is also the issue of timing and the fact that the state is ill-prepared to manage the potential repercussions.
While the exact economic impact this proposal would have remains unclear, passage would mean small businesses around the state would be forced to undertake new requirements for how they manage employees. For example, the amendment language would require employers to treat medical marijuana like prescription drugs and it could require employers to accommodate medical marijuana in the workplace. Employers need to review and update their human resource policies and how their business treats the use of prescription drugs.
Passage would also bring about a number of workplace safety concerns, as discussed here.
COSE recommends voting NO on Issue 3.
Vote YES on Issue 2: Limit monopolies and oligopolies
Going hand-in-hand with the marijuana legalization effort is a separate, but related issue that aims to limit monopolies and oligopolies in the state. If Issue 2 wins approval, voters would still have the opportunity to suspend the prohibition on monopolies and oligopolies for specific future issues and vote on whether those issues are in the best interest of the people of the state.
There would be a limited number of marijuana growers allowed if Issue 3 were to pass because it would maximize the profit for the handful of marijuana investors tied to the “ResponsibleOhio” campaign. Supporting Issue 2 would help protect the Ohio Constitution from “ResponsibleOhio’s” initiative and make it more difficult to grant monopolistic enterprises in the future.
COSE recommends voting YES on Issue 2.
Vote YES on Issue 1: State legislative redistricting
Gerrymandering has long been a familiar part of Ohio politics, where the majority party has had the opportunity to slice and dice the map to best suit their preferred candidates’ needs (and their odds of winning future elections.)
One group is trying to change that – or at least limit the amount of gerrymandering that occurs when drawing state legislative districts. Fair Districts for Ohio is advocating for a bi-partisan plan to improve upon the way the state approaches redistricting for state legislators. This would be the first major overhaul to Ohio’s process of drawing state legislative districts in over 40 years and here’s, in part, how the plan would work:
- Would create a new seven-member bipartisan panel called the “Ohio Redistricting Commission.”
- The commission would have at least two members from the minority party.
- Would require at least two votes from each party in order to approve a district plan, otherwise a temporary plan is put in place and the commission must reconvene to redraw it.
- Would create a process for the Ohio Supreme court to order the commission to redraw the map if the plan favors one political party.
- Keep communities together by requiring a district plan to split as few counties, municipal corporations, and townships as possible.
The ballot measure has received overwhelming support from Republican and Democratic lawmakers as well as a wide array of organizations around the state extending from the Ohio Education Association to unions to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
COSE recommends voting YES on Issue 1.
Vote YES on Issue 8: Arts and culture
A renewal is on the ballot for arts and cultural institutions in the region that would continue to provide a dedicated revenue source for Cuyahoga County’s arts and culture scene. The amount of arts programming our region has to offer is a testament to the levy’s impact. The issue is not a tax increase. It would continue the current 1.5 cents tax per cigarette sold in Cuyahoga County to support arts and cultural organizations.
“People have seen the return on the investment,” says Tom Schorgl, President & CEO of the Community Partnership for Arts & Culture. And, the initiative has been held up as a national model for how to establish strategic public and private partnerships for arts and cultural programs.
The tax, approved by voters in 2006, has funded such efforts as art education in schools, neighborhood programming and more. And, the funding is especially important for non-profits because organizations such as those can have a difficult time securing operating dollars needed to open the doors and actually run the organization.
“I think one of the most important things is a lot of people have experienced first-hand arts and culture programming,” Schorgl says. “Over half of the programs offered that have received support have been free, so access has increased exponentially. People from all walks of life in every corner of Cuyahoga County have seen those results and have connected with it personally.”
COSE recommends voting YES on Issue 8.
As you can see, the outcome of this year’s vote will have a significant impact on Northeast Ohio. COSE encourages you to get out and make your voice heard!