In addition to the intriguing races going on locally and statewide, there are several ballot issues to vote on come Nov. 6. Here, we will break down the statewide ballot measures, and offer voting suggestions for you to consider.
Selection of supreme court and court of appeals judges
This amendment gives the governor increased authority to appoint a majority of the commission that selects the court nominees; to appoint all lawyers to the commission by removing the requirement that the governor's appointees be nonlawyers.
Our view: No. We acknowledge there are problems with the current selection process and that the trial lawyers have gained a lot of power in the process. But this solution could open up a new can of political worms.
Local control for the City of St. Louis police
Currently a board of police commissioners is appointed by the governor to run the police department; this would give the city control over the operation, and could result in significant savings to the state and local governments.
Our view: Yes. In principle, local control is preferred.
Cigarette tax increase
A new tax of .0365 per cigarette and 25 percent of the manufacturer's invoice price for roll-your-own tobacco and 15 percent for other tobacco products would be put into a health and education trust fund. Revenue would go to schools and smoking prevention and cessation programs.
Our view: No. Now is not the time for tax increases, and we'd hate to see schools attached to a revenue stream that is intended to decrease over time. As we've seen, the state government tends to pull general revenue money away from education funding when it receives designated funds from other areas (see lottery revenue).
Governor's role in establishing health insurance exchanges
This measure is intended to take executive power from the governor to establish health insurance exchanges, a state option under the Health Care Act, known as Obamacare. States can take federal money to set up the exchanges, which are online marketplaces intended to allow consumers to compare health insurance plans. If states do not set them up by 2014, the federal government will run them for the states.
Our view: Yes. Important decisions such as these ought not to be made by one person. This would create a check and balance for the state's executive branch.
The ballot language for each of these issues has been published in the Southeast Missourian and is available online at semissourian.com/elections.