Letter to the Editor

Amendment 7 can be confusing

Friday, October 27, 2006

To the editor:

The way some of the Nov. 7 ballot issues are worded, it would be easy to vote the opposite of what you believe. A good example of a misleading ballot summary is Amendment 7: denial of state pensions if convicted of a felony. When you get your ballot and read the summary, you will not be getting the whole story.

The summary says that corrupt officials will be prevented from drawing pensions. Voters would agree that officials should lose their pensions if they committed a felony. But do they know that this amendment is really about pay raises for statewide elected officials? Amendment 7 began as an easier way to raise salaries. Every two years a salary commission recommends to the legislators salary increases. Because it looks bad to raise your own salary, legislators by a simple majority vote it down or do not fund the increases. If this amendment passes it would take a two-thirds majority to reject the salary increases. If they are not rejected, legislators will be mandated to fund salary increases.

Because this is not an initiative petition, legislators were allowed to write the ballot language, which is deceiving. The part about denying state pensions to those convicted of a felon was added to gain support.

Another deception implies voters would have to approve pay increases, but the amendment only allows citizens the opportunity to pursue a statewide vote on salaries. This is an existing law that has never been exercised because it is costly to accomplish.

BELINDA HARRIS, State Representative, 110th District, Hillsboro, Mo.