Ballot Question Voting InformationOctober 23, 2008 - TRCFinal article in the voting series The end is now in sight. The close of an extensive campaign season is nearing. This election will not only determine the outcome of the presidential race, federal candidates and those running for state, county and local offices, in addition there are important ballot questions to vote on. The people of Maine will be asked to answer yes, or no, on three questions which will appear on every ballot throughout the state. The answer choices may seem simple, either a yes or no, however it is often the questions that are not as easy. One question is referred to as a "people's veto" even though it is funded largely by very big corporations from out of state. The other is a "citizen initiative", and the last is a "bond issue." The first question came from having petitioned people to get the question on the ballot to validate or invalidate a law that was enacted by the Legislature, but not yet in effect. If the people vote to veto the law, it will not take effect, essentially overriding the decision of the Legislature. Question 1 on Maine's ballot will ask, "Do you want to reject the parts of a new law that change the method of funding Maine's Dirigo Health Program through charging health insurance companies a fixed fee on paid claims and adding taxes to malt liquor, wine and soft drinks ?" This referendum asks whether voters want to approve or disapprove portions of enacted legislation that change the method of funding the Dirigo Health Program. Currently, the Dirigo provides 18,000 Maine people and small businesses with health coverage. To stabilize funding for Dirigo, the Legislature weighed its options - create a reliable revenue source or allow for 18,000 working Maine people and families to lose health insurance coverage. Originally, discussion revolved around the proposal to raise the tax again on cigarettes; however, a majority felt taxes on cigarettes had been raised already and did not want to raise them more. Heeding the advice of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Dirigo Health report, the Legislature instead placed an excise tax on beer, wine and soda - all major factors linked to high health costs. Soon, on November 4, the decision will be up to the voters to decide. Question 2 is a citizen initiative and asks voters to consider the following question. "Do you want to allow a certain Maine company to have the only casino in Maine, to be located in Oxford County, if part of the revenue is used to fund specific state programs ?" Passage of this question will allow a gambling casino to operate in Oxford County with a stipulation that no other gaming facility could be licensed in the state for 10 years from the start of gaming operations at this casino. The bill would also remove the current limit on the total number of slot machines that may be allowed in the state; although it would still limit the number of slot machines that may be licensed at any commercial track to 1,500 machines. It also would prohibit commercial tracks from expanding their gaming operations beyond slot machines. If passed, the bill will also lower the minimum age for participating in gaming activities, including slot machines at commercial tracks, from 21 to 19 years of age. The casino would be required to collect and turn over 39% of the "total gross gaming device income" (all amounts wagered minus amounts paid out) from casino operations. The State would be required to distribute designated percentages of those proceeds to 22 specific programs and agencies. Question 3 is a bond issue, which means voters are being asked if they will support improvements to be made to our aging infrastructure. It will appear on the ballot as follows, "Do you favor a $3,400,000 bond issue to support drinking water programs, to support the construction of wastewater treatment facilities and to leverage $17,000,000 in other funds ?" Bonding is an excellent method for repairing infrastructure because state funds are matched enormously at the federal level by a 5 to 1 ratio. We put one dollar in and get five contributed to our state from federal funds. If the bond passes, these dollars will go into a state revolving loan funds. One half of the fund to assist our municipalities on construction and upgrades to wastewater treatment facilities and the other half will go into the state safe drinking water revolving loan fund to assist public water systems in design, construction, or improvements. Bonding is not only good for repairing our infrastructure, leveraging federal funds to come to Maine, but in addition the funds put people to work, who then are able to stimulate the economy by regenerating their wages into local businesses. General voter information for our Senate District 30 is as follows (town locations and hours*): Alton - Municipal Bldg., 3352 Bennoch Rd. 394-2601 10am-8pm Absentee: M & Th 2-6pm, W 8am-12 noon@ Municipal Bldg. Argyle - Votes in Old Town (See Old Town) Bradford -Town Office, 345 East Rd. 327-2121 8am-8pm Absentee: M 7am-6pm, T 8:30am-12, W & Th 8:30am-4:30pm, F 8am -12 Edinburgh - Town Hall, Edinburg Rd. (Rte. 116) 10am-8pm Enfield - Cole Memorial Bldg, 789 Hammett Rd. 732-4270 8am-8pm Absentee: M-F 8am-4pm @ Town Office Greenbush - Town Office, 132 Military Rd. 826-2050 9am-8pm Absentee: T,W & F 8:30am-4:30pm, M & Th noon-6:30pm Howland - Town Office, 8 Main St. 732-3513 9am-8pm Absentee: M-F 8am-3:50pm Hudson - Town Hall, 2334 Hudson Rd. (Rte 221) 327-1284 9am-8pm M & T 8am-1pm, W 1-6pm, Th 8am-1pm & 4-6pm, F 8am-1pm Kingman - Votes in Webster (See Webster) LaGrange - Town Office, 5791 Bennoch Rd. 10am-8pm Lee - Town Office, 29 Winn Rd. 738-2134 10am-8pm Absentee: M - F 9am - 1pm Lincoln - Mattanawcook Academy, 33 Reed Dr. 794-3372 9am-8pm Absentee: Town Office M-F 8am-5pm Mattawamkeag - Municipal Bldg., 327 Main St. 736-2464 9am-8pm Absentee: Town Office off Main St. M-F 8am-noon, 12:30-4:15pm Maxfield -Town Office, 231 River Rd. 732-5639 10am-8pm Absentee: T 5pm-7pm, W & Th 9am-11am Old Town - Town Office, 150 Brunswick St., (2nd Floor of Bangor Savings. Enter off Main St. on right of building) 827-3980 7am-8pm Ward 1: Old Town Elks Club, 37 4th St. Ward 2, 3 & 4: Knights of Columbus, 5 Gilman Falls Ave. Absentee: M-F 8am-4:30pm Town Office Orono - 866-2556 7am-8pm Ward 1, Precinct 3 & Ward 2: Town Council Bldg, 59 Main St. Ward 1, Precinct 1:Birch St. Sr. Citizen Ctr., 10 Birch St. (all who previously voted @ American Legion Hall) Ward 1, Precinct 2: UM Campus, Memorial Union, Rangeley Rd. Absentee: Municipal Bldg., 59 Main St. M-F 8:30am-4:30pm Passadumkeag - Town Office, 25 Pleasant St. 732-5111 10am-8pm Absentee: M 6-8:30pm, T & Th 8am-noon, W noon-4pm Indian Island - Penobscot Indian Island Community School, N. Penobscot Rd. (Rte 199), Old Town 10am-8pm Springfield - Town Office, 13 Park St. 738-2176 10am-8pm Twombly - no info Veazie, Municipal Bldg., 1084 Main St. 947-2781 8am-8pm Absentee: M-F 8am-4:30pm Webster - Webster School House, Tucker Ridge Rd. (Rte 534) 765-2108 clerk 10am-8pm Winn - Town Office, 24 Main St. 736-7111 9am-8pm*Hours & locations are as accurate as access to Town Offices allows As your Senator I am committed to working on the issues that face us during these trying times. REMEMBER TO CHECK TO SEE IF YOU QUALIFY FOR THE PROPERTY TAX AND RENT REBATE PROGRAM. Thank you for allowing me to serve you in Senate District 30 and Maine. For questions or assistance contact me, Senator Elizabeth M. Schneider at (207) 866-7359 or toll free at 1-800-423-6900. You can also contact my Legislative Aide at the State House in Augusta at (207) 287-1515. District 30 includes Alton, Argyle, Bradford, Edinburg, Enfield, Greenbush, Howland, Hudson, Kingman, LaGrange, Lee, Lincoln, Mattawamkeag, Maxfield, Old Town, Orono, Passadumkeag, Penobscot Indian Island, Springfield, Twombly, Veazie, Webster, Winn Senator Elizabeth M. SchneiderDarek M. Grant, Legislative Aide, Senate Majority Office3 State House StationAugusta, ME 04333www.mainesenate.org207.287.1515NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.