What’s the issue? Previewing November’s ballot
Oct 17, 2018 10:21AM
● By Jana Klopsch
By Cassie Goff | firstname.lastname@example.org
Excited to get that “I voted” sticker?
Utah’s 2018 General Election is underway. If you have received your ballot in the mail, make sure it is postmarked by Nov. 6 (but the sooner the better). Polling stations will be available on Nov. 6 as well (check your county’s website for locations). Before you head to that secluded booth or color within the lines on the mail-in ballot, make sure you know what you’re voting for.
In addition to the local elections for U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative, county council seats, school boards, sheriff, auditor, clerk, recorder, district attorney and various judges, there are three propositions, three constitutional amendments and one opinion question that are receiving much public attention.
Proposition 2 involves legalizing medical marijuana. If passed, Utah’s current law regarding medical cannabis would be expanded. Private facilities would be allowed to grow, process, test and sell medical marijuana, with regulation. Individuals with certain medical conditions or illness would be allowed to acquire, use and possibly grow medical cannabis.
Supporters of this proposition argue that medical cannabis can help end suffering from cancer, seizure and other life-threating conditions. Organizations in support of this proposition include the Utah Patients Coalition, Libertas Institute, Marijuana Policy Project and Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE) Utah, among others.
Opponents to this proposition worry about the effect it may have on children and families, and argue that it may pave the way for the recreational use of cannabis. Organizations in opposition include the Utah Medical Association, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, DARE Utah and the Utah Narcotics Officers Association, among others.
A special legislative session is planned for a medical cannabis bill regardless of the Prop 2 vote. Seen as a potential compromise, the bill could either replace Prop 2 if passed, if voted down, the bill is still on the table, according to legislators.
Proposition 3 involves raising sales tax to support Medicaid for low-income adults. The sales tax rate would be increased from 4.70 percent to 4.85 percent. The additional funding coming from this tax increase would expand coverage of Medicaid based on income. The proposition specifically relates to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Supporters of this proposition argue that the benefits of Medicaid should be available to all the citizens of Utah, and there is potential to bring health care coverage to thousands of Utahans who need it. Supporters of this proposition include AARP Utah, Voices for Utah Children, YMCA of Utah, Utah Health Policy Project and many others.
Opponents to this proposition worry about the potential burden to the state budget and the sustainability of the proposition. Opponents to this proposition include Governor Gary Herbert and Representative Edward Redd, along with many other legislators.
Proposition 4 is concerned with re-districting for the House of Representatives, Senate and State Board of Education. If this proposition passes, a seven-member commission called the Utah Independent Restricting Commission would be created. District boundaries would need to be drawn by the state legislature and approved (or vetoed) by the governor. This would need to be completed during the legislative general session after the next federal decennial census in 2020. The anticipated effects would include minimizing the division of counties, cities and towns, preserving traditional neighborhoods and communities, and minimizing boundary agreement among different types of districts.
Constitutional Amendment A regards a property tax exemption for active military personal. Currently, military personal are eligible for a property tax exemption if they serve 200 days within a calendar year. This amendment would allow that person to qualify for the tax exemption if they serve 200 consecutive days in one 365-day period, regardless of the calendar year.
Constitutional Amendment B would create a property tax exemption for property that a state or local government leases from a private owner. Supporters of this amendment argue that it would be a cost-saving opportunity for government bodies. Opponents argue that it would reward a select few at the expense of others.
Constitutional Amendment C would allow the legislature to meet beyond their scheduled 45-day annual general session. It would allow the president of the Utah Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representative to convene a special session that would not be able to last more than 10 days, or go over budget.
The non-binding opinion asks if the state should increase the state motor and special fuel tax rates by 10 cents per gallon to fund public education and local roads. This specific tax is regularly referred to as the gas tax.
While this question is “non-binding,” that may be a little misleading. Voter opinion results from this question will be gauged by legislators to help guide them with a bill regarding the gas tax during the next legislative session.
Supporters of this initiative argue that schools need additional funding for tools that would help the schools go beyond the basic level. Supporters include the Utah League of Cities and Towns and Our Schools Now, among others.
Opponents of this initiative argue that Utah citizens do not need another tax increase. Opponents include the Americans for Prosperity and the Utah Taxpayer Protection Alliance, among others.
For more information on what’s on the ballot for this election, please visit the Salt Lake Tribune, Elections.utah.gov, and/or Ballotpedia.org.
If you are not yet registered to vote (and obviously didn’t take Taylor Swift’s advice), please register by visiting Utah.gov.
Remember to be informed about local government and stay involved.