In addition to candidates for local, state, and national seats, this year's Maine ballot will feature referenda questions about drinking and gambling.

The first question, "The People's Veto," asks, "Do you want to reject the parts of a new law that change the method of funding Maine's Dirigo Health Program through charging health insurance companies a fixed fee on paid claims and adding taxes to malt liquor, wine and soft drinks?"

Question 2, entitled "Citizen Initiative," reads, "Do you want to allow a certain Maine company to have the only casino in Maine, to be located in Oxford County, if part of the revenue is used to fund specific state programs?"

The final question is the "Bond Issue," which asks, "Do you favor a $3,400,000 bond issue to support drinking water programs, to support the construction of wastewater treatment facilities and to leverage $17,000,000 in other funds?"

Michael Franz, an assistant professor in the government department, explained the significance of the first referendum issue in an e-mail to the Orient.

"Question 1 concerns the beer, wine, and soda tax for funding the Dirigo Health Program," he wrote.

"The issue is important because of the imposition of a new tax to fund a controversial program."

The Dirigo Health Program, according to the program's Web site, was created by the state legislature "in 2003 as 'an independent executive agency to arrange for the provision of comprehensive, affordable health care coverage to eligible small employers, including the self-employed, their employees and dependents, and individuals on a voluntary basis.' The Legislature specified that 'Dirigo Health is also responsible for monitoring and improving the quality of health care in this State.'"

Co-Communications Director for the Bowdoin College Democrats Eamonn Hart '09 stressed that Question 1 "isn't totally a referendum on Dirigo Health" itself, but instead "on how it's funded."

Franz wrote that "some oppose the tax for anti-tax reasons (arguing that we are heavily taxed already), while some are hoping eventually to force the health program to fail (with the argument that the program has not performed well)."

Steve Robinson '11, a member of the Bowdoin College Republicans, is voting in support of the question.

"I disagree with the existence of the Dirigo Health Program in the first place," Robinson said. "I don't support the extension of government."

The question of how much the results of the voting on Question 1 will directly affect Bowdoin students remains unclear.

"If Question 1 fails, students, like all residents, will pay a small tax on beer, wine, and soda (5 to 15 cents), but that's it," Franz wrote.

Hart views the implications in a larger scope and said that Dirigo may be helpful for students who choose to stay in Maine after graduation.

"My health insurance is going to expire when I graduate," Hart said.

If approved, Question 2 would allow The Olympia Group, a Las Vegas-based company, to built a casino in Oxford County. The Olympia Group acquired the Portland based-Evergreen Mountain Enterprises LLC in September, which had first initiated the proposal.

Oxford County is located alongside the northern border between Maine and New Hampshire.

As outlined in the Proposed Initiative Summary found in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election, if the question passes, "the gaming operator must pay to the State 39 percent of the total gross gaming device income."

This percent of the total gross income would then be distributed to fund 22 different outlined purposes, ranging from education, transportation, and medical costs, among others.

According to Franz, some people support the casino because it would lead to jobs and economic development. On the other hand, he said that many people oppose the plan because the casino would be run by a Las Vegas-based company.

"Furthermore, the bill, as written, contains many controversial provisions (i.e., lowering the gambling age in Maine, giving the company a monopoly on casino operations)," Franz wrote.

"The legislature has vowed to post-election fix the provisions that many find unsatisfactory, but that worries many voters. Ultimately, however, the proponents want the jobs, and argue that in these tough economic times we should not reject any economic opportunities," he continued.

Robinson wrote, "The casino would provide jobs and revenue in this state, both of which are desperately needed."

While television and radio advertisements, both in support and in opposition to Questions 1 and 2, have been widely broadcast in the weeks leading up to the election, Question 3 seems to have been largely ignored in local media.

According to an October 20 Associated Press article, "the bond proposal [Question 3] appears to have drawn no organized opposition."