Fresh Ideas: Things to consider about statewide ballot questions |

Fresh Ideas: Things to consider about statewide ballot questions

Abby Johnson

I’ve finally decided how I will vote on each of Nevada’s four statewide ballot issues with these questions in mind. How does it affect our communities and families? Is it good public policy? What’s the greater good?

Question 1 is about background checks for guns, and closes the Internet and gun show loopholes. Some say it goes too far or misses the mark. Others think it’s a good first step to say “enough is enough” for mass shootings and gun violence. Two years ago I was shaken to the core when an acquaintance in a deep depression used a gun to kill his two children and himself. Would a tighter gun law have prevented this tragedy? I don’t know but Question 1 is a positive step forward. It could save lives.

If Question 2 passes, Nevada would allow recreational marijuana to be grown and sold in licensed state facilities. Opponents argue it’s too soon because medical marijuana is just now being implemented. The measure enables profits for the pot and liquor industries. They say traffic deaths will increase and public health and safety costs will far exceed revenue from legalizing pot. Proponents believe marijuana shouldn’t be over-classified as a Schedule 1 drug, and misdemeanor and felony penalties for possession of small quantities are excessive. Legalization is coming to California, they say, so let’s get on the bandwagon now to generate sales tax from a regulated product. They project $20 million for our schools plus $60 million for the general fund. I’m voting yes to send a message to the feds current drug policy isn’t working.

Question 3 concerns energy deregulation. If it passes, instead of having to buy energy from one supplier (mostly NV Energy in this state) Nevadans could choose from multiple suppliers based on factors including price, reliability, and environmental impacts. But as a practical matter, it favors big users over residential consumers. Consider who’s behind Question 3. It’s the Las Vegas Sands and other large casinos, backed by billionaire Sheldon Adelson who just finessed legislative approval of taxpayer dollars to build a Raiders football stadium in Las Vegas. A “no” vote would sustain the current system dominated by NV Energy which helped to squelch rooftop solar in the sunniest state. But in California, energy deregulation increased energy prices and cost consumers more than $40 billion to fix. I’m against giving the corporations an opt-out discount on energy with the burden falling on ordinary households.

Question 4 eliminates sales tax from durable medical equipment. Oxygen tanks and similar medical equipment wouldn’t be taxed. Families throughout Nevada who struggle to pay for lifesaving medical equipment such as insulin pump supplies for Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes and other chronic conditions would benefit. Opponents argue having given a $1.3 billion tax credit to Tesla and $335 million tax credit to Faraday, Nevada now needs to draw the line on making exceptions to the sales tax. If we can give tax relief to billionaires and foreign corporations, surely we can afford to take care of the most needy and deserving among us.

Finally, a word of encouragement especially for first time and newly registered voters. Vote early to avoid long lines on Election Day, Nov. 8. Early voting is at the Clerk’s office at 885 E. Musser St. (off Roop Street) from Oct. 22 through Nov. 4. For days and times, check your sample ballot, arriving in the mail this week. And consider this: You don’t have to vote on every race or ballot question. But please vote.

Abby Johnson is a resident of Carson City, and a part-time resident of Baker, Nev. She consults on community development and nuclear waste issues. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her clients.