In the past two editions of the Payson Roundup, the editorial board has sorted through the first 10 of 19 propositions on the Nov. 7 ballot. After debating and coming to a consensus on each ballot item, here is our take on the final nine propositions.
As we said before, we are not asking you to agree with us, but we hope that reading through our thought process, will help you make your own informed decisions on Election Day.
Proposition 201: Smoke Free Arizona Act
Proposition 201 would prohibit smoking in all public places and places of employment with the exceptions of retail tobacco shops, veterans and fraternal clubs, designated hotel rooms and outdoor patios.
There were those among the board who relished the idea of walking into any restaurant in Arizona and not worrying about secondhand smoke -- the smell it leaves on your clothes or the damage it does to your lungs. There is also the issue of the workers who breathe in secondhand smoke all day in bars and restaurants -- and those are the people this proposition will really benefit. While some argue that people can choose where they work, not everyone has that luxury.
For those on the board who decided to vote against this proposition, the decision was based on the amount of regulation 201 represents. Smoking bans should be made on the local level or by the individual business. A "no" vote for this board has nothing to do with smoking, but more to do with where we believe power should reside.
Proposition 202: Arizona Minimum Wage Act
Proposition 202 would establish a state minimum wage at $6.75 per hour. Until now, Arizona has used the federal minimum wage, which is $5.15.
Legislatures have regularly voted to give themselves raises, while the minimum wage has remained the same since 1997. In fact, legislators are asking for another raise on this very ballot -- see Proposition 302. The irony did not escape us.
We believe workers should be compensated fairly for their labor and $5.15 per hour no longer meets that measure.
Proposition 203: First Things First for Arizona's Children
Proposition 203 would raise the state tax on cigarettes from $1.18 per pack to $1.98 per pack. The extra money raised would be used to fund an Early Childhood Development and Health Fund, which would be overseen by a to-be-created Arizona Early Childhood Development and Health Board appointed by the governor.
Cigarette smokers are easy targets, but they should not be punished just because there is a need for funding. If the tax was more broad-based or if the money would be sent directly to school districts for child development projects, we would be more interested in voting for this proposition. As it stands, it feels unnecessarily punitive and it creates another bureaucracy.
Proposition 204: Humane Treatment of Farm Animals Act
This proposition would make it a misdemeanor to confine a pig during pregnancy or a calf raised for veal for all or the majority of a day in a manner that prevents the animal from lying down and fully extending its limbs or turning around freely.
Arizona has no veal farms. So, this proposition would affect only one business in Arizona -- a large hog farm in Snowflake -- and it would affect only one aspect of that business -- a housing compound for over 13,000 pregnant sows.
These rules are not only reasonable, but could, in the long run, help Arizona's pork industry as more consumers get interested in organic food and humanely raised meat.
Proposition 205: Your Right to Vote
Proposition 205 would require every state, county and local election to be conducted by mail-in ballots.
In theory, we liked the concept of a mail-in-only election. Proponents of this proposition claim it will increase voter turnout, but voter turnout is one thing and responsible, informed voters are another.
Voters already have the right to vote by mail, this proposition would simply eliminate the opportunity to vote at your neighborhood polling place -- a cherished Election Day tradition for democracy romantics like ourselves.
Proposition 206: Arizona Non-Smoker Protection Act
Proposition 206 is an alternative smoking ban to Proposition 201, offered to us cleverly by R.J. Reynolds. It would ban smoking in public places and places of employment, just like 201, but it would exempt bars, smoking sections of restaurants, hotels, retail tobacco stores, veterans and fraternal clubs and outdoor patios.
What bothered us about this version of the statewide smoking ban was the fact that, if passed, it would pre-empt all city, town and county laws relating to smoking in bars and tobacco stores. Places like Flagstaff that fought for their own local smoking bans, would be overruled by the state.
Proposition 207: Private Property Rights Protection Act
We liked the first part of this proposition, but turned it down after reading to the end. On its face, this proposition limits eminent domain -- the power of the government to take private property for public use.
Property owners want and deserve the protection this proposition seems to provide, but the wording of this proposition is vague and it is also unnecessary. The protections it offers are already in place, as proven by recent eminent domain cases.
This proposition also gives the final decision making power of eminent domain to the state.
While property owners deserve, cities and towns also deserve the flexibility to make decisions.
Proposition 300: Public programs for citizens
Proposition 300 is aimed at illegal immigrants. If it passes, illegal immigrants will not be allowed to participate in adult education classes, will not be allowed to go to school at in-state tuition rates and they will not be allowed access to grants, waivers or financial assistance to go to college.
This proposition would put a roadblock in front of those people who are trying to better themselves through education -- people who already have many roadblocks in their way.
The people this proposition would hurt are not those who chose to come to this country illegally, but their children.
Proposition 301: Probation ineligibility for meth users
Proposition 301 would amend the current law so that anyone convicted for possession or use of meth, can be sentenced to a jail term on the first or second offense.
As we watch meth destroy lives in our community, the first impulse is to punish, punish, punish. Some of us feel that the courts should be given the flexibility to deal with meth users severely and early.
But others felt this proposition is shortsighted for its focus on jail as a cure for meth addiction and its focus on meth alone, as the drug of the day.
Proposition 302: Raise for legislators
This proposition would raise legislative salaries from $24,000 to $36,000 a year. We expect a lot out of our legislators -- when they are in session and when they are not. We should pay them at a respectable level.