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2016 Rhode Island statewide ballot questions

election-2016

Below is information on the 7 statewide ballot questions which will be appearing on the November 8th ballot. All information from the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s office.

Download the full Voter Information Handbook from the Secretary of State’s office

1. STATE CONSTITUTIONAL APPROVAL

Approval of an act authorizing state-operated casino gaming at “Twin River-Tiverton” in the Town of Tiverton
Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution

Shall an act be approved which would authorize a facility owned by Twin River-Tiverton, LLC, located in the Town of Tiverton at the intersection of William S. Canning Boulevard and Stafford Road, to be licensed as a pari-mutuel
facility and offer state-operated video-lottery games and state-operated casino gaming, such as table games?

Approve

Your vote to “Approve” this question means you want to allow a new state-operated casino, including video-lottery games and table games, to be built in Tiverton, at the intersection of William S. Canning Boulevard and Stafford Road.

Reject

Your vote to “Reject” this question means you do not want to allow a new state-operated casino, including video-lottery games and table games, to be built in Tiverton, at the intersection of William S. Canning Boulevard and Stafford Road.

Explanation and purpose of Question 1:

This question is asking voters to allow a new state-operated casino to be built in Tiverton at the intersection of William S. Canning Boulevard and Stafford Road. Approval will require that voters in Tiverton and throughout the State of Rhode Island vote in favor of building the casino. The casino would be owned by Twin River-Tiverton and would be licensed and regulated by the State.

The Twin River-Tiverton Casino would include video-lottery games and table games and replace what is currently Newport Grand.

This question is before the voters because the Rhode Island Constitution requires that voters approve any expansion of gambling. More specifically, Article VI, Section 22 of the Rhode Island Constitution provides that “no act expanding the types of gambling permitted within any city or town in the State of Rhode Island shall take effect until it has been approved by a majority of those electors voting in a statewide referendum and by the majority of those electors voting in a referendum in the municipality in which the proposed gambling would be allowed.”

How much money will be borrowed?

The referendum would not authorize any borrowing


2. AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE

Restoration of ethics commission jurisdiction over General Assembly members
Section 8 of Article III and Section 5 of Article VI of the Constitution

Section 8 of Article III of the Constitution shall be amended to read as follows:

Section 8. Ethics commission – Code of ethics. – The general assembly shall establish an independent non-partisan ethics commission which shall adopt a code of ethics including, but not limited to, provisions on conflicts of interest, confidential information, use of position, contracts with government agencies and financial disclosure. The assent of two-thirds (2/3) of the members appointed shall be required for the adoption for every rule or regulation. All elected and appointed officials and employees of state and local government, of boards, commissions and agencies shall be subject to the code of ethics. The ethics commission shall have the authority to investigate alleged violations of the code of ethics, including acts otherwise protected by Article VI, Section 5, and to impose penalties, as provided by law;. and the Any sanction issued against any party by the ethics commission shall be appealable to the judicial branch as provided by law. The commission shall have the power to remove from office officials who are not otherwise subject to impeachment, or expulsion as provided by Article VI, Section 7.

Section 5 of Article VI of the Constitution shall be amended to read as follows:

Section 5. Immunities of general assembly members. – The persons of all members of the general assembly shall be exempt from arrest and their estates from attachment in any civil action, during the session of the general assembly, and two days before the commencement and two days after the termination thereof, and all process served contrary hereto shall be void. For any speech in debate in either house, no member shall be questioned in any other place, except by the ethics commission as set forth in Article III, Section 8.

Approve

Your vote to “Approve” means that the Rhode Island Ethics Commission will have the power to hear ethics complaints against State Senators and State Representatives.

Reject

Your vote to “Reject” means that State Senators and State Representatives will continue to have immunity from Ethics Commission prosecution in cases involving their “core legislative functions” and the Rhode Island Ethics Commission will not have the power to hear ethics complaints against them.

Explanation and purpose of Question 2:

This Constitutional Amendment would restore the Rhode Island Ethics Commission’s power to hear ethics complaints concerning members of the Rhode Island General Assembly (State Senators and State Representatives). The new text to be added to the amendment is underlined in the ballot question. Text that will be deleted is crossed out.

The Ethics Commission is an independent, non-partisan body created in 1986 by Rhode Island voters to investigate the actions of Rhode Island officials accused of violating the Code of Ethics, and punish those found guilty of violating the Code of Ethics. In 2009, the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled that the “speech in debate” clause of the Rhode Island Constitution in Article VI, Section 5, gave lawmakers immunity from Ethics Commission prosecution in cases involving their “core legislative functions.” Approval of this question would restore the Ethics Commission’s constitutional authority to police ethics violations by members of the General Assembly. It would also require the Commission to approve new rules by a two-thirds (2/3) majority.

How much money will be borrowed?

The referendum would not authorize any borrowing.


State Bond Referenda Questions

Download the Voter Information Handbook to see complete information on the Bond Referenda including costs.

Referenda Questions 3 – 7 involve authorizing the State to borrow money through bonds and temporary notes to make capital investments. (Chapter 142 – Public Laws 2016)

What is a bond?
A bond is like a mortgage or loan. Just like people might borrow money to get an education or buy a home, the State is asking to borrow money from a lender with the promise to pay it back over time with interest. These questions are asking you to agree that we should borrow to invest in different areas of our state.

Here is a table of the bond proposals and their associated costs including principal and interest. Just as with a mortgage or loan, the total cost includes the principal amount borrowed and the amount of interest paid over the term of the bond. The total cost also includes any fees, printing, or underwriting expenses associated with issuing the bonds.

STATE BOND QUESTIONS PRINCIPAL INTEREST TOTAL COSTS
3. Veterans Home Bonds $27,000,000 $16,281,371 $43,281,371
4. Leveraging Higher Education to Create 21st Century Jobs Bonds $45,500,000 $27,437,126 $72,937,126
5. Port Infrastructure Bonds $70,000,000 $42,210,962 $112,210,962
6. Green Economy Bonds $35,000,000 $21,105,481 $56,105,481
7. Housing Opportunity Bonds $50,000,000 $30,150,687 $80,150,687
TOTAL BORROWING COSTS FOR ALL REFERENDA $227,500,000 $137,185,627 $364,685,627

The total costs above are only estimates based on 20-year loans and an interest rate of 5%.


3. VETERANS HOME BONDS – $27,000,000

For the construction of a new Veterans Home and renovations of existing facilities.

Approve

Your vote to “Approve” means that you support the State issuing $27,000,000 in general obligation bonds to complete the construction of a new Veterans Home and support renovations of existing Veterans facilities in Rhode Island.

Reject

Your vote to “Reject” means that you are against the State issuing $27,000,000 in general obligation bonds to complete the construction of a new Veterans Home and support renovations of existing Veterans facilities in Rhode Island.

Explanation and purpose of Question 3:

These bonds will allow the State to complete a new Veterans Home that is already under construction and to borrow less money than the $94 million voters previously approved for the new Veterans Home in 2012. While voters originally authorized $94 million to be spent on the new Veterans Home, the state received federal funding and only ended up needing to borrow $33.5 million for the project.

Now the State needs to authorize an additional $27 million to complete the new Veterans Home project. The additional cost is a result of inflation in materials and labor since 2012. More significantly, the change in the federal guidelines for reimbursement of state veterans home construction has added more costly requirements for building the new Veterans Home. If this $27 million is authorized and added to the previous $33.5 million borrowed, the state would borrow a total of $60.5 million for the new Veteran’s Home.

How much money will be borrowed?

$27,000,000

Project time table:

The construction of a new Veterans Home is well under way and is expected to be completed in or about Fall 2017.

Useful life:

The Rhode Island Office of Veterans Affairs estimates that the useful life of the new Veterans Home building will be approximately 50 years.


4. LEVERAGING HIGHER EDUCATION TO CREATE 21ST CENTURY JOBS BONDS – $45,500,000

To make capital investments in higher education related projects, to be allocated as follows:
(a) University of Rhode Island College of Engineering $25,500,000
(b) University of Rhode Island Affiliated Innovation Campus Program $20,000,000

Approve

Your vote to “Approve” means that you support the state issuing $45,500,000 in general obligation bonds to fund higher education-related construction projects at the University of Rhode Island.

Reject

Your vote to “Reject” means that you are against the state issuing $45,500,000 in general obligation bonds to fund higher education-related construction projects at the University of Rhode Island.

Explanation and purpose of Question 4:

These bonds would provide funds to the State of Rhode Island to pay for higher education-related construction projects. The State intends to use $25,500,000 from these bonds to renovate and construct an addition to Bliss Hall, one of the oldest buildings at the University of Rhode Island College of Engineering. This renovation and construction is the continuation of comprehensive improvements to the University of Rhode Island College of Engineering.

An additional $20,000,000 from these bonds will be used to bring the University of Rhode Island together with businesses by building an innovation campus that supports cutting-edge research into products, services and businesses that will build Rhode Island’s economy. An innovation campus must involve the University of Rhode Island, exceed the state’s investment with private and/or federal funds, include at least one business partner, and act as a catalyst for a substantial number of new jobs at a variety of skill levels.

How much money will be borrowed?

$45,500,000

Project time table:

The renovation and construction of an addition to Bliss Hall, as well as the construction of an innovation campus, is expected to commence on or about July 1, 2017 and be completed on or about June 30, 2021.

Useful life:

The Rhode Island Board of Education estimates that the useful life of the renovated Bliss Hall and addition, as well as the innovation campus will be approximately 45 years.


5. PORT INFRASTRUCTURE BONDS – $70,000,000

For port infrastructure projects, to be allocated as follows:
(a) Port of Davisville Infrastructure at Quonset $50,000,000
(b) Port of Providence Infrastructure $20,000,000

Approve

Your vote to “Approve” means that you support the state issuing $70,000,000 in general obligation bonds to fund improvements to the Port of Davisville at Quonset and the Port of Providence.

Reject

Your vote to “Reject” means that you are against the state issuing $70,000,000 in general obligation bonds to fund improvements to the Port of Davisville at Quonset and the Port of Providence.

Explanation and purpose of Question 5:

These bonds would be issued to fund improvements to the Port of Davisville at the Quonset Business Park and the Port of Providence. The State intends to use $50,000,000 to modernize the infrastructure and fund repairs at Quonset’s Port of Davisville, including Pier 2. The investment would modernize Pier 2, which was built in 1956 with a design life of 50 years. Quonset’s Pier 2 handles heavy cargoes like wind turbine components and other large specialty cargoes. The pier is essential to the Port’s automobile import business, which is consistently one of the top ten in North America.

The remaining $20,000,000 would be used to purchase land and fund infrastructure improvements to increase terminal capacity at the Port of Providence. The investment would expand current port operations by acquiring and improving additional land to meet the region’s shipping needs.

How much money will be borrowed?

$70,000,000

Project time table:

The infrastructure modernization and repairs to the Port of Davisville at Quonset, including Pier 2, is expected to commence in or about 2017 and be completed in or about 2022. The increase of terminal capacity at the Port of Providence by purchasing up to 25 acres of land (which will be owned by the state) and associated infrastructure improvements is expected to commence in or about 2017 and be completed in or about 2022.

Useful life:

The Quonset Development Corporation estimates the useful life of the facilities, improvements and other property resulting from infrastructure modernization and repairs to the Port of Davisville at Quonset, including Pier 2, to be 50 years until approximately 2072.

The Rhode Island Executive Office of Commerce estimates the useful life of the facilities, improvements and other property resulting from the increased terminal capacity at the Port of Providence, to be 50 years.


6. GREEN ECONOMY BONDS – $35,000,000

For environmental and recreational purposes, to be allocated as follows:
(a) Historic State Park Development Program $4,000,000
(b) State Land Acquisition Program $4,000,000
(c) State Bikeway Development Program $10,000,000
(d) Brownfield Remediation and Economic Development $5,000,000
(e) Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program $3,000,000
(f) Local Recreation Development Matching Grant Program $5,000,000
(g) Local Land Acquisition Matching Grant Program $4,000,000

Approve

Your vote to “Approve” means that you support the state issuing $35,000,000 in general obligation bonds to invest in the environment and recreation.

Reject

Your vote to “Reject” means that you are against the state issuing $35,000,000 in general obligation bonds to invest in the environment and recreation.

Explanation and purpose of Question 6:

These bonds would be issued to allow the State to invest in the environment and recreation. The $35,000,000 will be allocated as outlined below to improve state parks, preserve open space, develop bikeways, clean up contaminated land, reduce stormwater pollution, support municipalities in development of recreational facilities and also to purchase open space and parklands. Specifically, approval of this question will provide:

(a) $4,000,000 for major capital improvements to State properties, including Fort Adams State Park, Brenton Point, Colt State Park and Goddard Memorial State Park. Specific projects include major renovations to the Goddard State Park bathing pavilion, improvements to the stone barn at Colt State Park, and continued improvements to public facilities at Fort Adams State Park.

(b) $4,000,000 for the State Land Acquisition Program allowing the state to acquire fee simple interest or conservation easements to open space, farmland, watershed, and recreation lands. The State would invest these funds in the preservation of iconic, scenic and sensitive natural and recreational resources including gems such as Rocky Point in Warwick and the Blue Pond Management Area in Hopkinton to provide opportunities for Rhode Islanders and our visitors to recreate, enjoy nature, hike, fish and hunt. Funds are matched by federal, local and nonprofit sources with every state dollar being matched by 3 other dollars.

(c) $10,000,000 for the State to design and construct bikeways. Projects to be funded under this program would include high priority bikeway connections such as the Blackstone Bikeway and South County Bikeway.

(d) $5,000,000 for the cleanup of former industrial or commercial sites that may be contaminated by hazardous waste or pollution. Provides up to 80 percent matching grants to public, private, and/or non-profit entities for brownfield remediation projects. Recently funded projects include South Street Landing and Paragon Mills in Providence and the Westerly Higher Education and Job Skills Center.

(e) $3,000,000 for a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program. Renews funding to an existing program that provides up to 75 percent matching grants for public, private and/or non-profit entities for projects that reduce stormwater pollution. These funds would be used to clean up our waterways and reduce stormwater pollution that contributes to beach and shellfish closures and degrades waters used for drinking water supply and recreation.

(f) $5,000,000 for up to 80 percent in matching grants to municipalities to develop public recreational facilities and up to 50 percent in matching grants to acquire recreational lands.

(g) $4,000,000 for 50 percent matching grants to municipalities, local land trusts and non-profit organizations to acquire fee-simple interest, development rights, or conservation easements on open space lands in Rhode Island. Past local open space properties preserved through this program include 175 acres of conservation land in Coventry, 40 acres of significant habitat and drinking water supply in North Smithfield, and a 90-acre open space and farmland parcel in Tiverton.

How much money will be borrowed?

$35,000,000

Project time table:

The program to fund investments in the environment and recreation is expected to commence in fiscal year 2018 and be completed by fiscal year 2022.

Useful life:

The Department of Environmental Management estimates that the useful life of the enhancements and renovations to be made to park and recreational infrastructure and bikeway improvements throughout the State of Rhode Island to be 30 to 50 years.

The Department of Environmental Management estimates that the useful life of open space and parkland preservation; brownfields restoration; and stormwater pollution prevention to be permanent.


7. HOUSING OPPORTUNITY BONDS – $50,000,000

For affordable housing, urban revitalization, and blight remediation, to be allocated as follows:
(a) Affordable Housing Development $40,000,000
(b) Urban Revitalization and Blight Remediation $10,000,000

Approve

Your vote to “Approve” means that you support the State issuing $50,000,000 in general obligation bonds to help fund the construction of affordable housing, support urban revitalization and blight remediation.

Reject

Your vote to “Reject” means that you are against the State issuing $50,000,000 in general obligation bonds to help fund the construction of affordable housing, support urban revitalization and blight remediation.

Explanation and purpose of Question 7:

These funds would support the construction of affordable housing, support urban revitalization and blight remediation. The State will use $40,000,000 to develop and implement affordable housing opportunity programs through the redevelopment of existing structures and/or new construction. The remaining $10,000,000 would be used to provide funding to develop and implement programs for the improvement of properties that are blighted or in need of revitalization, including residential and commercial properties and public and community spaces.

Funding from past affordable housing bonds has been used to create over 1,900 affordable homes and apartments for families, seniors and veterans in 31 communities across Rhode Island.

How much money will be borrowed?

$50,000,000

Project time table:

The redevelopment of existing structures and/or the new construction of affordable housing is expected to commence in 2017 and to be completed by 2023. The improvement of blighted properties, including residential and commercial properties as well as public and community spaces, is expected to commence in 2017 and to be completed by 2021.

Useful life:

The Housing Resources Commission estimates the useful life of the redeveloped and/or newly constructed affordable housing to be a minimum of thirty years. Rhode Island Housing estimates that the useful life of renovated blighted properties, including residential and commercial properties as well as public and community spaces to be a minimum of thirty years.

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