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Editorial: Ballot issues

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Leading up to Tuesday's elections, the Southeast Missourian has presented information on the five measures -- two constitutional amendments and three propositions -- that will be on every ballot in Missouri. Proponents and opponents of those measures have had an opportunity to make their cases. Here is a quick review that includes recommendations for voters.

* Constitutional Amendment 1: Would amend the Missouri Constitution to add a statement that English shall be the language of all governmental meetings.

In general, this is already the case, and the state already has a law saying English is the "common language." For more than 200 years immigrants who don't speak English have learned the language -- indeed, have enhanced it tremendously -- without a law saying they have to do so. There is little reason to think future immigrants will do otherwise.

* Constitutional Amendment 2: Would amend the Missouri Constitution to change provisions relating to the financing of storm-water control projects.

Missouri voters approved tax-exempt bonds a few years back, with revenue to be used for storm-water projects. This provision would allow the state to use the bonds to make more loans, rather than grants, to be repaid by local utilities, which makes sense.

* Proposition A: Would repeal gambling loss limits, increase the casino gambling tax, create a special education fund and caps the number of casinos.

This proposition has been touted as a way to raise more than $100 million for public education in Missouri, but the estimates are questionable, particularly at a time when the economy is down, as reflected by casino revenue in recent months. The real aim of the proposition is to remove the state's loss limit and limit the number of casinos, thereby reducing both competition and future casino development around the state. This is not a good plan.

* Proposition B: Would amend Missouri law to enable the elderly and Missourians with disability to continue living independently in their homes and would allow caregivers to unionize after meeting thresholds substantially lower that other collective bargaining efforts.

There is a growing demand for in-home caregivers as the state's older population increases, but the lowered unionization standards appear to be little more than an invitation to the Service Employees International Union to collect dues from all such workers. This is not a good way to go about it.

* Proposition C: Would amend Missouri law to require investor-owned electric utilities to generate or purchase power from renewable energy sources.

The goal of developing renewable energy is a good one. It also is fraught with expenses, some hidden and some not, that could mean higher utility bills for consumers -- or, under the proposition's provisions, a cap of rate increases that would decrease profits -- and capital for developing alternative energy -- for companies trying to meet the proposition's expectations. Renewable energy is being developed by most utility companies at a pace that reflects market demand. That's better than a government mandate.

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Amendment 1

Legal immigrants may because learning English is part of the citizenship requirement. But illegal aliens do not. Passing this amendment is justified.

-- Posted by BABE on Sun, Nov 2, 2008, at 12:36 PM

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