Friday, November 04, 2016

Election includes votes in some states on cigarette tax, alcohol, hunting and fishing, religion in school

Ballots on Tuesday will include more than presidential, state and local contests. Plenty of referenda will be on the ballots that could impact rural areas, including gun control, recreational marijuana and hydraulic fracturing. Here are some the issues that voters should be on the look out for.

Sales of cigarettes by millions of dollars
In Missouri voters will consider Amendment 3, which would increase cigarette tax by 60 cents—77 cents by 2020—and would add a fee of 67 cents per pack to tobacco wholesalers, Renee Hickman reports for the Columbia Missourian. Revenue would go "to a proposed Early Childhood Health and Education Trust Fund, which would distribute money to programs related to early childhood education, health care and smoking cessation." Missouri, which has one of the nation's highest adult smoking rates—20.6 percent—has the nation's lowest cigarette tax rate, at 17 cents per pack.

If passed, the amendment would provide $300 million for programs, Kelly Moffitt reports for St. Louis Public Radio. Critics, though, says it's a scam by Big Tobacco. Ron Leone, executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, said the tax from the amendment, which has received $13 million from tobacco companies, "only applies to cigarettes, not other tobacco products, which make tobacco companies a lot more money."

Voters in Southeast Tennessee's rural counties will consider measures to allow sales and consumption of alcohol, Ben Benton reports for the Times Free Press. Residents in Dayton, Jasper and Kimball will "decide whether to allow the sale of wine in food stores." In "Polk County voters will weigh in on countywide, on-premises alcohol consumption and package stores, and Tracy City voters in Grundy County will decide whether they want to allow on-premises consumption of alcohol."

Indiana voters will consider "a constitutional amendment that would guarantee Hoosiers a right to hunt and fish," John Scheibel and Dan Carden report for The Times of Northwest Indiana. "The General Assembly in 2014 and 2015 agreed to ask voters in 2016 to ratify a constitutional amendment declaring hunting and fishing a valued part of the state’s heritage that shall forever be preserved for the public good, subject only to state laws and rules promoting wildlife management and preserving the future of hunting and fishing."

Supporters say "without the amendment hunting and fishing someday could be unduly limited, or even banned," Scheibel and Carden write. Critics "say putting a poorly worded right to hunt and fish alongside the more essential guarantees of free speech, free press, religious freedom and civil rights in the Indiana Constitution cheapens the state’s primary governing document."

In Oklahoma, State Question 790 would remove a part of the state constitution that "prohibits the government from using public money or property for the direct or indirect benefit of any religion or religious institution," according to the Oklahoma State Board of Election. Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, told Amy Slanchik, of NewsOn6, "Voting Yes on 790 will protect the right to pray at football games and display the 10 commandments."

No comments: