We have all been bombarded lately with information about the upcoming election, whether it’s on radio, TV, social media or conversations with our friends and neighbors. With less than two months to go, I think we can only expect the clamor to get louder – and, in some cases, uglier – as the weeks go on.

Most of the political talk lately concerns the presidential race and the latest with the governor. But I believe it’s important to keep in mind that Maine citizens will be voting on a number of other very important issues this November. Among them are local town council and school board seats and various municipal questions.

We will also be voting on six state referendum questions, and that is what I would like to highlight in this column. Regardless of where you stand on these issues, it is safe to say that the outcome of these ballot questions will have a profound effect on Maine’s economy and other important public policy issues.

Question 1 concerns marijuana legalization: “Do you want to allow the possession and use of marijuana under state law by persons who are at least 21 years of age, and allow the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?”

Question 2 asks whether we want to create a new tax bracket to help fund education: “Do you want to add a 3-percent tax-on individual Maine taxable income above $200,000 to create a state fund that would provide direct support for students learning in kindergarten through 12th grade public education?”

Question 3 is a proposed change to state gun laws: “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?”

Question 4 asks whether we want to raise Maine’s minimum wage: “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?”

Question 5 asks whether we want to change the way we vote in Maine: “Do you want to allow voters to rank their choices of candidates in elections for U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, 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?”

Question 6 asks whether we want to borrow money for various state projects: “Do you favor a $100,000,000 bond issue for construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities, equipment and property acquisition related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit and bicycle and pedestrian trails, to be used to match an estimated $137,000,000 in federal and other funds?”

My purpose here is not to tell you how you should vote on these questions, but rather to inform you on what they are and, in some cases, the costs associated with them. Please take the time to read all of these them carefully so you can make an informed decision on Nov. 8. As important as the presidential election is, the referendum questions listed above will affect all of us here in Maine.

The Maine Secretary of State’s Office has a webpage that has more information about these ballot questions: maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/upcoming

— State Sen. David Woodsome, R-York, represents Senate District 33, which includes Cornish, Limerick, Newfield, Parsonfield, Sanford, Shapleigh and Waterboro.


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