Cities Consider Pot, Development, GMO Labeling, Minimum Wage in Local Elections Today


Former Reason man Mike Riggs writes at The Atlantic on some interesting issues to watch for libertarians in local elections happening today--vote early and often, if that's the sort of thing you enjoy.

After a bunch of stuff on mayoral races, he gets down to the ballot initiatives where such Reason-y issue as pot, GMO foods, the hapless aftermath of huge civic spending projects, public pensions, the minimum wage, and development are being subject to electoral whim hither and yon across this land of ours:

Marijuana: Question 1 in Portland, Maine, would remove all legal penalties for possession of marijuana so long as the possessor is over 21 and has less than 2.5 ounces of pot. Even if Question 1 passes, Portland law enforcement can still arrest people under state law if they so choose. Proposition AA in Colorado asks voters to approve the official tax rates and regulatory schemes for the state's recreational marijuana industry. 

Development: Propositions B and C in San Francisco will determine whether developers can build luxury condos along the water at 8 Washington Street. Proponents say developers will pay into San Francisco's affordable housing fund and develop open space; opponents say the development will be worse than the Embarcadero Freeway

GMO Labeling: Initiative 522 in Washington state would require companies that use genetically modified organisms in their products to say that on their labels. Most of Washington's newspapers oppose the measure, as do corporations like Kraft and Monsanto. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the World Health Organization, and the European Union all agree that GMOs are safe. The response of I-522 proponents boils down to: What's the harm in a label? 

Minimum Wage: A question on today's ballot would allow New Jersey residents to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour, and enshrine annual cost of living increases in the state constitution. While business owners have said the measure's passage might force them to lay people off, the measure had quite a bit of support earlier this year

Pensions: The passage of issue 4 would result in a massive overhaul for Cincinnati's public pensions. According to Governing magazine, Issue 4 "would affect about 7,500 workers, retirees and their beneficiaries and would close off the city's defined benefits plan to new hires and enroll them in a 401(k) style plan."

The Astrodome: Years after it was abandoned by the Astros, today Houstonians will decide what to do with Astrodome. The ballot measure would raise property taxes by a half-cent per $100 of home value; that money would then be used to turn the Astrodome into a convention center.

Who can build what where on their property, who can smoke what when, what mutually agreed deals you can make with your fellow humans, how much you'll be on the hook for deals government makes with its workers, what to force other people to pay for for a "convention center"--all these and more, decided by the whims of a very few of the people around you. Look around you, America. Do you trust them on this? Doesn't matter!