Free your mind

The presidential election is months away, and it’s coming whether you’ve been paying attention or not.

There have been a few recent developments in the initiative and referendum category of this election. Some of the developments have been somewhat subtle: For example, the Nevadans for Sound Government won a court case extending, until July 20, the amount of time they have to collect signatures on their fiscal measures.

There are a couple of other referendum developments that aren’t so subtle. In fact, as Election Day approaches, they’re as likely to generate hyperbolic rhetoric as the presidential campaign has. The first is the plan to adjust the minimum wage based on whether the employer pays for health insurance. It’s pretty easy to guess what kind of businesses will fight this idea and what their arguments will be: If we are forced to buy health insurance for our employees or pay them an extra dollar an hour, we will go out of business, thus costing the state millions in our taxes and thousands of jobs.

Voters will likely have to decide which way to vote based on unbalanced information. The reason for that is pretty simple. The groups that claim they will become destitute if forced to pay higher wages will be buying millions in advertising. It’ll be fun to hear massive corporations, like some fast-food chains, pleading poverty through their Madison Avenue commercials, but it probably won’t advance real dialogue.

The people who would benefit from the increase in wages will likely buy little commercial time—although they’ll probably get some help from the unions that promoted the initiative petition. It surely goes without saying that people who are working part-time jobs for minimum wage won’t be buying 30-second spots on prime time.

Another initiative petition that will probably grow some noses will be the Regulation of Marijuana Amendment which has likely gained a spot on the November ballot. (We say “likely” because the amendment’s signatures have been submitted to counties for verification, but nothing is for sure until the signatures have been verified as made by registered voters in Nevada).

It’s not a great stretch to predict that law enforcement will be out in some numbers to fight against the petition at taxpayers’ expense. Two years ago, when Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement (a group that also got its funding from the Marijuana Policy Project) promoted a similar petition, all kinds of top cops came out for battle—including the nation’s top drug-law enforcer John Walters and Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick. It also seems fairly self-evident that “mistakes” that were made in the last campaign—like the Nevada Conference of Police and Sheriffs initial endorsement of the initiative—won’t happen this time.

At any rate, the time to start preparing—figuring out what initiatives you, the citizen, want to support—is now. Don’t wait to make your decision based on which group intrudes most on your TV watching time. Check out the Internet and the various news outlets. There are some decisions to be made this November that you’ll want to have a hand in. Register to vote today.