What the 4 Ballot Questions Mean for Philly Voters on Nov. 2 Election Day

One referendum asks voters whether the city should pressure politicians in Harrisburg to decriminalize and legalize marijuana. Three others are related to how city government works

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Philly voters will have the opportunity to answer yes or no to four ballot questions when they head to the polls for the Nov. 2 election. 

Here is everything you need to know about the ballot questions with polls open on Tuesday:

Question 1: Should Philly pressure Harrisburg to legalize marijuana?

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to call upon the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Governor to pass legislation that would decriminalize, regulate, and tax the use, and sale to adults aged 21 years or older, of cannabis for non-medical purposes? 

This question asks voters whether they want to change the city’s charter to urge the Pennsylvania legislature and governor to legalize recreational marijuana. If you vote “Yes,” it means you support a letter to state lawmakers that adults age 21 and older in Pennsylvania should be allowed to use and sell marijuana for non-medical purposes.

If the measure is approved, it will not change any state laws. It will, however, signal to Harrisburg where Philly stands on marijuana legalization.

Pennsylvania lawmakers passed legislation legalizing the use and sale of medical marijuana in 2016, but recreational marijuana still remains illegal within the Commonwealth. Eighteen states, including New Jersey, have already legalized recreational marijuana.

Gov. Tom Wolf has previously expressed support for legalization, which he believes will generate revenue to help Pennsylvania recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Question 2: Should Philly’s Office of Fleet Management become a Department?

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to establish and define the functions of a Department of Fleet Services, headed by a Commissioner, to manage all City-owned motor vehicles and City programs concerning alternative vehicle fuel initiatives?

This question asks voters whether they want to establish a new department, the Department of Fleet Management, to manage the acquisition, repair, maintenance and disposal of City vehicles and related equipment.

The new department would assign vehicles and equipment to other City departments and manage fueling cites and programs regarding vehicles that run on alternative fuels.

The Office of Fleet Management has handled the maintenance and allocation of City vehicles for several decades under an Executive Order. Creating a new department for the operations would make it an official part of the City Charter.

Question 3: Should the City have more flexibility when hiring people from the civil service list?

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to revise provisions related to the civil service system, to allow the Personnel Director to determine the number of people on an eligible list from which a hiring or promotion decision may be made, and to determine the number of times a person may be passed over and remain eligible on such a list, all based on the position and the needs of the civil service program?

To apply for most City jobs, applicants must take a civil service assessment for a specific job. Currently, department heads are only allowed to pick from the two top-scoring applicants to fill a job opening. The applicant that is not selected cannot be scheduled for an interview with the same department more than twice.

If you vote “Yes,” you are choosing to allow the City’s Personnel Director to decide how many applicants a department head can choose from based on the job and the needs of the City’s civil service system. The Personnel Director would also decide how many times an applicant can be interviewed by the same department.

Question 4: Should Philly be required to contribute to the affordable housing fund annually?

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for a mandatory annual appropriation for the Housing Trust Fund?

This question asks voters whether they want to require City Council to set aside a certain amount of money in the budget each year for various housing programs, including building affordable housing, making it easier for people with disabilities to live in or visit affordable housing and reducing homelessness.

If the question is approved, City Council would be required to set aside .5% of the City’s “General Fund appropriations,” which is designated for City operations. If the proposal was in place this year, approximately $25 million from the general fund would have gone towards housing programs.

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