Trump and Clinton have dominated the airwaves for the past few months, Maine
simultaneously awaits citizen initiative legislation on recreational marijuana
regulation, a tax for public schools, gun control, minimum-wage increases, and
ranked-choice voting. As Maine voters wearily prepare for November 8th, the
spread of Question 1 through 5 propaganda along our roadsides and intersections
has folks wondering just what’s behind all that “Yes on…” or “No on…” fury.
Since it’s never elaborated on the posters, here’s some insight to this year’s
I: Do you want to allow the possession and use of marijuana under state law
by persons of at least age 21; and allow cultivation, manufacture,
distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products subject to
state regulation, taxation, and local ordinance.
legislation would implement a new system of regulation in order to provide a
legal recreational cannabis market to Maine’s non-medical population. The
Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has worked hard for the past few
years with members of Maine’s Medical Marijuana Program, and others, in order
to outline vocabulary that best supported their intentions for this initiative.
of the bill speak of tax revenue, job opportunities, and legal moralism in
garnering votes. The opposition poses concerns with regulating a plant as
alcohol while it’s simultaneously regulated as a medicine, and how having two
parallel systems of regulation could potentially impact medical marijuana
infrastructure throughout the State of Maine. Maine was the first state to
decriminalize the cannabis plant in 1978, and was among some of the first to
legalize its medicinal use in 1998 and some are nervous of how the two could coexist.
the actual legislation is riddled with clauses specifically stating “this
chapter may not be construed to limit any privileges or rights [granted]… under
the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act”, it’s implicitly suggested that this
legislature promotes a production-based marijuana industry. Bangor Daily News,
in opposition to the bill, noted that adding a new system of regulation for
police to integrate may not be wise with the growing opiate/heroin epidemic.
caregivers are worried that particular aspects do not support the efforts of
small-businesses and farmers, as industrial approaches historically don’t bode
well for the little guys. Whichever way Maine goes with Question I, it’s
important to note that it has no effect on the Federal prohibition of cannabis,
so you may still be penalized for use and possession of the plant on Federal
II: Do you want to add a 3% tax on individual Maine taxable income above
$200,000 to create a state fund that would provide direct support for student
learning in kindergarten through 12th grade public education?
bill would establish and support the Fund to Advance Public Kindergarten to
Grade 12 Education in order to improve “the ability of the State to reach the
annual target of 55 percent, specified in statute, for the state share of the total
cost of funding public education,” as the bill summarizes. It also specifically
states that the generated funds would be used “for increasing the direct
support for student learning rather than administrative costs.”
idea is to bolster State funding for K-12 public education, through the
establishment of this fund and financial backing from Maine’s upper middle
class. While this doesn’t seem as exciting as pot or guns, it holds great
significance in reaching our state’s annual mandate of 55 percent funding for
public schools and their staff. Teachers, school nurses, librarians and others
would have access to funds in order to stock their classrooms and offices
without it costing them, personally.
and school staff are among some of the most under-valued and under-paid
employees in our country, and at a time when education and development are of
critical value. It’s common knowledge how people feel about taxes. Some see
this as taking hard-earned money from someone and simply giving it to
another, others consider it much more like an investment.
only would this 3 percent tax provide security where it’s most needed, both
monetarily for a teacher struggling to stock her classroom and refrigerator at
the same time, and for the varying districts that need a few more teacher
assistants and tutors than another. It also sets the example that we value and
encourage education, which the youth will not only see in politics, but,
regardless, will experience in the classroom.
III: Do you want to require background checks prior to the sale or transfer
of firearms between individuals not licensed as firearms dealers, with failure
to do so punishable by law, and with some exceptions for family members,
hunting, self-defense, lawful competitions, and shooting range activity?
the Brady Bill was enacted in 1994, it has effectively prevented 2.8 million
gun sales to prohibited buyers, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun
Violence. Yet, research estimates that around 40 percent of firearms are
obtained without a safeguard, such as online, independent, and gun show
sales/transfers. Some people believe closing those few gaps could help.
legislation came from a skeleton built on Michael Bloomberg’s bill for New
York’s gun laws. Every Town For Gun Safety, Mainer’s For Responsible Gun
Ownership, the Maine Municipal Association, and a number of law enforcement
have publicized support for the bill. However, the Maine Warden Service, 12 of
16 Maine Sheriffs, and proponents of limiting government have opposed the bill
with the usual rhetoric.
criminals are gonna get guns regardless of the laws, and only
law-abiding citizens may be impacted by new background check laws, it is
undeniable that remaining inactive on gun responsibility and accessibility should
not be an option any longer. Since Sandy Hook the debate has flared up with
its repetitive jabs and passionate points from both sides, only to stagnate
until another round of grisly slaughter brings us, briefly, back to the issue.
gun rights and responsibility are key to a successful hunting tradition, as
well as Maine communities, we ought to wonder, whether or not this initiative
passes, if both sides of the debate would be willing to unite to fight for the re-institution of gun education in Maine schools. After all, an educated
populous is the best defense against the charlatans that attempt to exploit our
IV: Do you want to raise the minimum hourly wage of $7.50 to $9 in 2017,
with annual $1 increases up to $12 in 2020, and annual cost-of-living increases
thereafter; and do you want to raise the direct wage for service workers who
receive tips from half the minimum wage to $5 in 2017, with annual $1 increases
until it reaches the adjusted minimum wage?
bill would, effective 1st January 2016, increase the hourly minimum wage to
$9/hour, and by a dollar per hour each year until 2020, where at $12/hour, it
will appropriately increase at the same rate as the cost of living.
Furthermore, service industry minimum wage for workers receiving tips would
change from $3.75/hour to $5/hour, with annual $1/hour increases until it
matches the regular minimum wage, which is to occur no sooner than 2024.
countless opponents of minimum wage increase cite small-business failure, job
losses, and increased costs in the marketplace, there is an important economic
consideration that is notoriously absent from such rhetoric. Wages haven’t been
adjusted to inflation since the 1970s, and the Economic Policy Institute reports
that the lowest-paid workers in America have lost five percent of their
purchasing power since Ronald Reagan became president.
living in the post-recession world, where technology is in hyperdrive and
productivity has no comparison to our workforce capability. People today work
harder and longer for far less than in previous decades, and it’s worsening
each year. Poverty wages decrease customers’ buying power and encourage
them to spend where capable; often with conglomerates like Walmart, who impose
such wages on their employees while raking in more profits that most small
countries, and returning none of the benefit to the local community.
order for people to support their economy, they have to be able to participate
in it. If local and small-businesses are to survive, their employees have to be
able to use them. It’s a Maine tradition to be self-reliant and dedicated to
our communities. Divesting from multinationals and investing in our local
economy could be the next big step for Maine’s future. Positive market changes
come with time and faith, and the opportunity to begin may only be a few weeks
V: Do you want to allow voters to rank their choices of candidates in
elections for U.S. Senate, Congress, State Senate, and State Representative,
and to have ballots counted at the state level in multiple rounds in which
last-place candidates are eliminated until a candidate wins by majority?
voting is a method of casting and tabulating votes in which voters rank
candidates in order of preference, and tabulation proceeds in rounds in which
the last-place candidate(s) are defeated and the candidate with the most votes
in the final round is elected,” as summarized in the bill. With the
embarrassing happenings of our 2010 state election, and the continuing nature
of our current election, Question V comes as a blessing.
would replace Maine’s caucus system and would differ from the typical mode of
primaries by eliminating the continuing bias for a two-party system. Instead of
getting down to the wire and woefully differentiating between red or blue, this
system would better facilitate third-party and independent candidate
consideration. It would clarify voter preference, and determine the best
candidate through the views of Maine’s constituency.
example, if Maine wanted Bernie Sanders to be president, and really didn’t want
Donald Trump to be president, they could vote in order of Bernie Sanders,
Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump, to distance themselves from the prospects of
a Trump presidency. Similarly, if Mainer’s were morally opposed to Clinton,
they could order their ticket Sanders, Stein, Johnson, Trump, Clinton to
ultimately disqualify Clinton from consideration.
passed, Maine will be the first state in America to initiate ranked-choice
voting. After the past few elections, it may become a bright and shining
example of political progressivism. To be able to determine specifically which
candidates one prefers, in order, is one of the most democratic proposals to
date. Portland embraced ranked-choice for mayoral elections in 2011.