Only days away from mid-term elections, the airways are filled with political ads, candidates are more visible at public social events, and some people are gathering information as to who and what to vote for.
I have received numerous calls, text, e-mails and personal conversations about understanding the amendments and proposition to be on the Nov. 6 ballot, so this newspaper is very kind in letting me, as your state representative, give you my explanation and opinion.
Difference Between Amendments and Propositions
Amendments change the Missouri Constitution. Propositions changes Missouri Statues.
Amendment 1 – Clean Missouri
• MO has campaign limits passed in 2016. Amendment 1 calls for a few changes but nothing major. All legislation are still bound by the Missouri Ethics Commission Rules and Reporting.
• Amendment 1 raises the current six month ban to a two year ban for legislators to become lobbyists.
• Very few people in politics are non-partisan. Therefore, a demographer who works directly under a partisan position will not be non-partisan in redistricting the Missouri House Districts. This could be a real problem.
• The redistricting portion of the amendment will hurt rural Missouri. You may end up with an elected official from Kansas City or St. Louis.
• This could change representation at the state level from “community districts” to “political districts.”
• If Amendment 1 is passed, Missouri citizen’s privacy could be infringed upon because of the Sunshine Law. While transparency in government is good, it’s important that communications between constituents and their legislator remain private so that the health, financial, or legal issues of the citizens will not become public knowledge.
• I will vote NO.
Amendments 2, 3 and Proposition C – Medical Marijuana
Most people know how they feel about medical marijuana. Therefore, I am going to list some facts for you about each initiative because they are very different.
• Creates a regulated system for medical marijuana in Missouri
• Taxes the sales of marijuana. Amendment 2 (4 percent); Amendment 3 (15 percent); Proposition C (2 percent).
• Amendment 2 and 3 sends all profits to veterans.
• Proposition C sends some money to veterans, and some to early childhood education.
• Amendment 2 and Proposition C allows for growing of marijuana with regulations, but questionable how strict.
• As long as someone is regulated they can grow marijuana in MO under Amendment 2.
• Part of Amendment 3 could be declared unconstitutional because Brad Bradshaw lists himself as being the chair of the committee.
• There are some issues with regulations within Amendment 2, and the legislature cannot fix them because they are in the constitution.
• Same states with recreational marijuana report the cost of collecting, monitoring, and treating addictions, etc., is more than the taxes received as revenue.
• If 1 or all of Amendments 2, 3, and Proposition C meets approval (receives more yes votes than no votes) which ever of the three that receives the most votes, will supersede the other two. (Only one of the three could take effect) So, you really may not know how to vote.
• If you are really passionate about medical marijuana becoming available voting yes to Proposition C is the best issue. If it passes, problems needing to be addressed the bill can be addressed by the legislature.
• I am voting NO on the Amendments. There are several issues that need to be addressed and cannot be because they are in the constitution.
• Proposition C I’m voting NO. This is more my personal opinion. Many states that have medical marijuana have moved to recreational marijuana. Major issues are banks, trucking companies, railroads, and others still have to abide by federal law. FDIC Banks cannot take money linked to marijuana. Trucking and railroad companies cannot hire people who have marijuana in their system because federal laws. If you want medical marijuana it needs to go through FDA trial, or come from the federal government.
Proposition B – Minimum Wage Increase
Missouri voters will be able to decide whether to increase Missouri’s minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.85. Proposition B would increase the minimum wage starting in 2019 to $8.60 and would then increase it each year by 85 cents until it reaches $12 per hour in 2023. This would figure out to be a 51 percent increase.
Proponents say increasing the minimum wage would help more Missourians make a living wage so they can meet their basic needs and take care of their families. They say the increase would result in an additional $1 billion in consumer buying power in Missouri, which would help businesses by injecting new dollars into the economy. Opponents say an increase in the minimum wage could force some companies out of business, or require them to cut back on hours and jobs. They say that a minimum wage is not meant to be a living wage, but that minimum wage jobs are meant to give individuals access to a first job opportunity where they can develop skills to obtain a higher paying job.
If the proposal is adopted by voters, state and local governments estimate no direct costs or savings from the proposal, but operating costs could increase by an unknown annual amount that could cause inflation, and automation or loss of jobs. State and local government tax revenue could change by an unknown annual amount ranging from a $2.9 million decrease to a $214 million increase depending on business decisions. I feel the minimum wages needs an adjustment but not this drastic and could cause a lot of problems. I am voting NO.
Amendment 4 – Bingo
Lawmakers approved legislation (HB1484) this year to give voters the opportunity to change provisions in the Missouri Constitution dealing with the regulation of bingo. The constitutional amendment would allow individuals who have, for at least six months, been a bona fide member of an organization licensed to conduct bingo to participate in the operation of a bingo game. The Constitution currently requires at least two years of membership prior to participation. It would also remove the statutory restrictions on the advertisement of bingo.
Supporters say the change would allow newer, more active members of qualified organizations to participate in the operation of bingo games. They say there is no reason for the current two-year membership requirement. They note that bingo games are a common fundraising source for charitable organizations and this would alleviate some of the pressure on the older members. I am ok with this amendment.
Proposition D – Fuel Tax Increase to Provide Funding for Highway Patrol and Roads
Because of legislation (HB 1460) approved during the 2018 regular session, voters will have the opportunity to decide if the state’s tax on fuel should be increased to provide a dedicated funding source for the state highway patrol, which will free up funding for Missouri’s roads and bridges.
If approved by voters in November, the measure would gradually phase in a fuel tax increase of up to 10 cents per gallon by raising the tax by 2.5 cents a year for four years beginning July 2019. The current tax is 17-cents per gallon. If passed, the increase is projected to generate about $412 million when fully implemented. Of these funds, $124 million (30 percent) would be divided among counties and cities for local road construction and maintenance, and the remaining $288 million (70 percent) would be appropriated by the General Assembly between the Department of Transportation, which would use the funds solely for road and bridge work, and the Highway Patrol.
Proponents of the measure say it will provide safer roads and bridges for Missourians. They note that Missouri is near the bottom — 49th in nation — with its current fuel tax of 17 cents per gallon. States with lower fuel taxes typically make use of toll roads, which Missouri does not. As a result, Missouri ranks 46th in the nation in revenue spent per mile of highway.
Proposition D also contains a component that would create tax exemptions for Olympic, Paralympic, and Special Olympic prizes. The proposal would also set up the Emergency State Freight Bottleneck Fund to pair state general revenue with local and federal funding to address extreme freight bottlenecks found at some major highway intersections. I will vote yes on Proposition D. It is not a “fix all” but will help prevent MODOT from closing many roads and bridges.
I know some of you want something you can take with you. So here is a quick snapshot you can cut out and take with you to the polls based on my opinion. Again, this is my opinion. The most important thing is, REMEMBER TO VOTE ON NOV. 6.
Amendment 1 – Clean MO – NO
Amendment 2 – Medical Marijuana – NO
Amendment 3 – Medical Marijuana – NO
Amendment 4 – Bingo – YES
Proposition B – Minimum Wage – NO
Proposition C – Medical Marijuana – NO
Proposition D – Gas Tax – YES
Again, this is my opinion.
The most important thing is, remember to vote on Nov. 6.
If you’re voting absentee, here are deadlines that you need to know:
• If you’re requesting an absentee ballot by mail or fax, those requests need to be received by the proper election authority by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31.
• If you plan on voting absentee in person, the deadline to do so is 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5.
It is an honor to serve as your state representative and hopefully I have earned your trust.