A round-table of reporters joins Here & Now hosts Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson to discuss the outcomes of several high-profile local elections.
In Houston, voters defeated an anti-discrimination ordinance that became known as the ‘bathroom ordinance’ because critics campaigning against it claimed that it would have allowed “troubled men” to enter women’s bathrooms.
Craig Cohen, host of Houston Matters, says the ordinance had no such language, and provided legal relief to 15 protected classes. He says similar ordinances exist in other major Texas cities.
It all comes down to voter turnout in local, non-presidential elections. They do tend to favor more conservative voters, or those that are more passionate or emotional about an issue.
– Craig Cohen
“It all comes down to voter turnout in local, non-presidential elections. They do tend to favor more conservative voters, or those that are more passionate or emotional about an issue,” Cohen said. “This was decided by only about 12 percent of the population of the City of Houston.”
In Ohio, voters rejected an initiative that would have legalized marijuana but restricted commercial growing operations to some of the initiative’s wealthy donors.
Jo Ingles, a reporter at Ohio Public Radio and TV, says the ballot question would have given already-determined investors ten growing sites, with exclusive ability to provide marijuana for the first four years of its implementation.
Ingles says polls show Ohio voters favor medical marijuana legalization, and lawmakers are responding.
“The Speaker of the Ohio House wants the federal government to change marijuana so that it is no longer a Schedule I drug, and he’s also talking about the legislature starting a pilot program that might lead up to medical marijuana soon,” Ingles says.
And in San Francisco, voters decided against imposing restrictions on the popular room-rental site Airbnb.
But KQED’s Guy Marzorati says this by no means spells the end of the debate over short-term rentals.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if opponents of the law on the Board of Supervisors try to make revisions to the law next year,” Marzorati said. “For Airbnb, they’re going to keep operating, as usual, and work with cities to hash out tax agreements so that they can at least remit local hotel taxes, give revenues to city. But politically, I think life is going to get harder for opponents of short-term rentals. Airbnb showed in this campaign they are willing to spend millions to fight measures they don’t like.”