Still wrapping up from Tuesday's election, I just wanted to touch on a few of the referendums that Ohioans voted on. I withheld comment before the vote, trying not to give "endorsements" but feel a little more liberated to speak after the fact. First, I think this election showed that voters were truly informed on what they were voting on. For instance, locally there was an issue up for a new jail in Hamilton County. One problem: nowhere in the language on the ballot was the word prison/jail used. It was rather ambiguous and merely referred to the sales tax increase being allocated for "law enforcement needs." Pretty shady. Voters, however, saw through that and voted it down. Same thing for the gambling initiative in the state of the Ohio. I don't think people are necessarily against gambling but the terms of the issue and the manipulation of the voters was extremely deceptive. Again, people saw it for what it was.
And the biggest proof was Ohio Issues 4 & 5, both concerning public smoking. Big tobacco companies were behind Issue 4, a constitutional amendment called "Smoke Less Ohio" while the total smoking ban [Issue 5]was a referendum backed by "Smoke Free Ohio." If Issue 4 passed, it would've trumped Issue 5. Voters knew the difference, defeating 4 and passing 5.
But even though voters were informed what they were voting on, I'm not sure if they really examined the ramifications of them. Let's take the smoking ban, for instance. The majority of the state thinks it's good for no smoking in public places and restaurants. It's understandable; I have some family members who get physically ill when around smoke, so you want them to be safe. This wide sweeping law makes smoking illegal practically everywhere, including bars. Again, it's no big deal for most of the state . . . except here in Cincinnati.
If you're in Columbus and there's no smoking, then there's a level playing field. I highly doubt that people will move from a city because of such a ban. And they're not going to drive to Pennsylvania or Indiana to hit a bar across the border just so they can get a drink a puff on a cancer stick at the same time. The same is true in Cleveland and Akron. But here in Cincinnati, patrons can easily cross the borders to two states where they can have their cake and eat it too. So of all the major cities in the state, Cincinnati takes the groin shot with this one.
Similar to the gambling issue, it's not that a smoking ban was a bad idea, but the way the referendum was worded wasn't the best to get the job done. But apparently we've now discovered the today's most despised minority: smokers.
In a similar vein, our state also passed a new minimum wage law; another "good idea, poor implementation practice." Notice that in all the craziness of political ads, there was little mention of this initiative. It's something that a lot of people can get behind without motivation- helping out the people who need the most help. Seems simple. What voters didn't realize is that this new law will prove more costly than a sales tax increase.
Who eventually pays for the increase? The consumer. The wage increases will be added on to everything you purchase. And as the lowest wage earners increase, everyone else on the scale will increase as well. And tacked on to this was a continual cost of living increase in the minimum wage, so that $6.85 isn't the stopping point. So as we all get "pushed up" through the pay scale for doing the same amount of work. And this, friends, is how we get inflation.
And the thing no one talked about is that now all state employers must keep detailed records of all employees for up to three years after they stop working for you. And, according to this new law, you have to provide that documentation to practically anyone who asks. This was a stunt by the unions to get their hands on information formerly out of their reach. So more paperwork, more expenses. Who pays for that? We do.
Again, it's not that a minimum wage raise wasn't a good thing but it needed to be done properly. It should be done, but more incrementally and with fewer strings attached. Now we're stuck with something that could hurt that state's economy even before the new state administration takes office. Hunker down, fellow Ohioans, it could get sticky.
While everyone viewed this results of this past Tuesday as a message sent that it's time for sweeping change, voters probably didn't realize that their most important decisions weren't even for a particular candidate.