Author: Ardian Shaholli

PROP B IS INEFFECTIVE AT ADDRESSING HOMELESSNESS

Proposition B is garnering a lot of attention and controversy ahead of Austin’s May 1 special election. The ballot initiative would prohibit camping, sitting, lying down, or sleeping on public sidewalks around the University of Texas and downtown Austin. In 2019, the Austin City Council rescinded bans on these activities. Save Austin Now, a group founded by Travis County Republican Party chairman Matt Mackowiak, failed to meet the 20,000 signature threshold required to get this initiative on the ballot in 2020. This year, the group gathered a sufficient amount of signatures—albeit via deceptive tactics. For example, multiple UT students...

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Biden Can and Should Enact Medicare for All

During the Democratic primary, Joe Biden promised to veto Medicare for All legislation—two days before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. COVID-19 has exposed the inadequacies of private health insurance. Approximately 49 percent of Americans depend on their employer for health coverage. Amid historic unemployment, 12 million Americans have lost their health insurance since February 2020. Enrolling these individuals into Medicare would provide them immediate relief that is impervious to negative economic trends. President Biden received the most votes of any presidential candidate in history in an election with the highest turnout since 1908. He...

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Prop A Is Long Overdue

Proposition A is Austin’s latest and most ambitious attempt at developing a robust mass transit system. If approved by voters, the $7.1 billion bond will expand the MetroRapid bus system as well as adding two light rail lines, a downtown tunnel and a second commuter rail line to the city’s public transit infrastructure. Despite requiring a 4 percent property tax increase, the plan is a necessary investment for a rapidly growing city. COST Smaller ballot initiatives that primarily called for the construction of a light rail system were rejected by Austin voters in 2000 and 2014 due to concerns over costs and infrequent ridership. Proposition A is more expensive than those...

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Democracy Vouchers Empower Voters, Lessen Big Donor Influence

Out of the 535 members of Congress, only 11 receive a majority of their campaign funds from small donors. Seattle’s 2017 Democracy Vouchers program reversed this trend, resulting in an election where 87 percent of all contributions were from small donors. Moving forward, democracy vouchers provide a promising template for future electoral reforms that look to increase voter participation and engagement across the country. MODERN HISTORY OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE In 1976, the Supreme Court ruled in Buckley v. Valeo that money is speech. Using this logic, the court deemed campaign expenditure limits unconstitutional. Additionally, it struck down the provision...

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