It’s Election Day and Mercer County residents are being presented with array of candidates hopefully ready to serve our interests. And we are also faced with a series of ballot questions.
MercerMe has summarized the questions for you to make your voting experience even more rewarding.
PUBLIC QUESTION #1:
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO ALLOW A COURT TO ORDER PRETRIAL DETENTION OF A PERSON IN A CRIMINAL CASE. Do you approve amending the Constitution to allow a court to order pretrial detention of a person in a criminal case? This would change the current constitutional right to bail. The change to the Constitution would mean that a court could order that a person remain in jail prior to trial, even without a chance for the person to post bail, in some situations.
Currently in New Jersey the court has to set a bail amount for any crime/criminal. This question strives to amend the constitution to do away with the release on bail in “some situations.” NJ Spotlight does an amazing job covering political and social issues in New Jersey and have written an article about this ballot question. A surprising yet important point raised in the article is, “The New Jersey American Civil Liberties Union, a group which normally advocates for the rights of all — including the accused — is strongly supporting the ballot question.” CLICK HERE for the rest of the article.
PUBLIC QUESTION #2:
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT DEDICATING STATE FUNDS FOR OPEN SPACE, FARMLAND, AND HISTORICAL PRESERVATION, AND CHANGING EXISTING DEDICATION FOR WATER PROGRAMS, UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANKS, AND HAZARDOUS SITE CLEANUPS. Do you approve amending the constitution to dedicate certain State revenues each year for environmental programs? The Constitution now dedicates four percent of the money collected from the Corporation Business Tax to help pay for some environmental programs. This amendment raises the amount from four percent to six percent beginning on July 1, 2019. The amendment also changes, beginning July 1, 2015, some of the programs funded by the current dedication. The new dedication would be used mostly to preserve and steward open space, farmland, historic sites, and flood-prone areas. Funds would also be used to improve water quality, remove and clean up underground tanks, and clean up polluted sites. Lastly, the amendment dedicates money received from leases and other uses of State open space lands to pay for open space, farmland, and historic preservation.
The interpretative statement explains that the money would be used for 1) a) preservation and care of open space through “Green Acres;” b) farmland, historic sites, and flood-prone areas through “Blue Acres;” 2) to improve water quality; 3) pay for polluted site cleanups; and 4) for underground tank removal and cleanup.
Local environmental groups have all urged New Jersey voters to vote YES for #2 yet some environmentalists are not onboard:
- Sourland Conservancy: “Vote YES on Question #2 for the referendum to designate a permanent source of funding to preserve open space in New Jersey.”
- Stonybrook-Millstone Watershed Association: “This is a bargain for all residents who want clean water, a clean environment and natural resource protection. Not only will this funding prevent land from being developed, but it will also protect drinking water sources, improve water quality, reduce future flooding impacts, provide recreational opportunities for New Jersey residents, and more.”
- New Jersey Conservation Foundation: “If passed, the measure will replenish preservation programs that are now virtually depleted, without adding any new taxes or debt.”
- NJ Spotlight article – this article explains reasons why some environmentalists are not backing this ballot question
- NJ Keep It Green Facts Sheet
- League of Women Voters pro/con Fact Sheet
In an effort to reduce disposable bag pollution in our communities, Othe residents of Mercer County support a five cent ($.05) fee for each single-use plastic disposable bag provided when shopping in any grocery, drug, or convenience store in Mercer County as an incentive to use recyclable bags.
This is a non-binding referendum which means the County does not actually have the ability to impose a fee for plastic bags. Here’s a funny and informative piece by Jeff Edelstein at the Trentonian.
HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP QUESTION
Should the Township of Hopewell increase its annual levy for open space, farmland and historic preservation within the Township of Hopewell, by one cent (.01) per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation of real property, with the levy to be used for any or all of the following purposes: a) acquisition of lands for recreation and conservation purposes; b) development of lands acquired for recreation and conservation purposes; c) maintenance of lands acquired for recreation and conservation purposes; d) acquisition of farmland for farmland preservation purposes; e)historic preservation of historic properties, structures, facilities, sites, areas, or objects and the acquition of such properties, structures, facilities, sites, areas, or objects for historic preservation purpose; and f) payment of debt service on indebtedness issued or incurred by the municipality for any of the purposes set forth in paragraphs a, b, c, d or e?
Hopewell Township officials have explained that rather than raising taxes, they are asking residents whether they would support a 1 cent tax increase. MercerMe covered this issue in July including the information presented to Hopewell Township officials at the round-table session by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation about the importance of open space for clean water.
Shall the Ordinance submitted by City Council require private-sector employers to allow their employees who work in the City of Trenton to accrue paid sick leave at a rate of one hour of paid sick time for each 30 hours worked. Employees who provide food services, child care, or home health care, or who work for employers with ten or more employees would be entitled up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each year. Other private sector employees would be entitled up to 24 hours of paid sick leave each year. The purpose of the Ordinance is to ensure that workers have the ability to address their own health needs and the needs of their family members; to diminish the public cost of health care; to protect the health of the public by reducing the risk of and spread of contagious diseases; to safeguard the public welfare, health, safety and the prosperity of the people of Trenton; and to protect residents and workers in the City of Trenton from losing their jobs or facing workplace discipline as a result of illness and the use of sick time to care for themselves or their family members.
The Trenton Times has covered this ballot question including an event at which Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman spoke in favor of the initiative.
So celebrate this year’s Election Day by going out to vote! We’ll see you there.
Author disclosure: For the purpose of full disclosure, Mary Galioto is the Hopewell Borough Democratic Committee Chairperson. The author attempted to accurately capture the answers with political neutrality and urges readers to read the material linked as well as other available information to best make an informed vote.
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