Casino, Clean Ohio aid tops list of state issues

SANDUSKY Ohio voters headed to the polls this fall don't just get to help pick the next president. T
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

Ohio voters headed to the polls this fall don't just get to help pick the next president. They get to help Gov. Ted Strickland run the state, too.

Voters will consider at least four state issues on their ballots. Depending upon whether the payday loan industry succeeds in its petition drive to overturn a state law limiting the interest rates the industry can charge for short-term loans, the number may grow to five.

The payday loan question, Issue 5, is on the ballot -- the ballots had to be printed in time to allow voting -- but the secretary of state still has to decide whether enough valid signatures were gathered to make it legitimate, said Debbie McDowell, director of the Erie County Election Board.

The payday lending lobby has submitted additional signatures, and a decision on whether the issue will go before voters should be made in about a week, said Jeff Ortega, a spokesman for Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.

Here's a look at the four issues that voters will decide for sure:

n ISSUE 6, perhaps the most controversial issue on the ballot, would allow a gambling casino to be built near Wilmington in southwest Ohio. Some of the profits from the casino would be distributed to each county government, with the commissioners in each county using the money as they see fit.

Supporters say it's ridiculous for all of the money from Ohio gamblers to be spent in other states, sending jobs and tax revenues away from Ohio.

Opponents say the measure would expand gambling -- creating new gambling addicts and ruining thousands of lives.

n ISSUE 1 would require citizens seeking to place an issue on a statewide ballot to file their petitions 125 days before the election. It also sets deadlines designed to provide a reasonably speedy decision on whether an issue will make it to the ballot.

The issue is designed to provide more time for citizens to learn the pros and cons of controversial issues.

Supporters say the current system promotes voter confusion because ballots often have to be printed before it's decided whether an issue will actually be considered by voters.

Earlier deadlines also will prevent money from being wasted in campaigns for issues that never come to a vote, they say.

Opponents say the issue will delay the consideration of important issues, since petition campaigns that don't have a lot of money may find themselves having to wait another year to put an issue on the ballot because they lack signatures.

n ISSUE 2 would allow the state to issue $400 million in bonds to continue the Clean Ohio program.

The Clean Ohio program dispenses money to preserve farmlands, clean up polluted brownfield sites, build trails and buy land for conservation. The Erie MetroParks is seeking a grant from the fund to create a new park in Vermilion.

Passing the question will allow Ohio to continue cleaning up pollution and will generate jobs for those who clean up waste sites, supporters say. The issue does not raise taxes, they say.

Opponents say the state should not go $400 million further into debt when voters already are struggling with a bad economy.

n ISSUE 3 makes it clear that private property owners have the right to make reasonable use of the groundwater under their land.

Ohio's legislature put the issue on the ballot when lawmakers passed the Great Lakes compact, after some lawmakers said they were worried the compact could interfere with reasonable private property rights.

Supporters say the state question protects water rights. Opponents say the question is unnecessary, because the courts already recognize the rights of private property owners to reasonably use water on their land.