Our opinions on the ballot initiatives

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Next week's election, the midterm, has been hailed across the country as an important election. On the national stage, the country's two biggest political parties are battling for majorities as President Donald Trump's brash style motivates voters one way or the other.

In Missouri, however, there are some major ballot issues beyond Missouri's Senate race, which has captured the national spotlight. We have already written editorials about some of the initiatives: those that deal with medical marijuana, which we do not support, and Proposition D, a tax measure for roads and bridges in Missouri, which we do support.

Below we'll provide summaries for the ballot issues (based on the Missouri Secretary of State) and our suggestions.

Amendment 1

Summary: This amendment would change the process and criteria for redrawing state legislative districts, change limits on campaign contributions, establish limits on gifts that state legislators can receive, prohibit state legislators and their employees from serving as paid lobbyists, prohibit political fundraising on state property, and require certain legislative records and proceedings to be open to the public.

Our view: While several of the items on this constitutional amendment are ones we support, the new process for redrawing state legislative districts is flawed and puts too much emphasis on the state auditor. The results could also create bizarre spaghetti-string districts. We suggest a no vote.

Amendment 2

Summary: This constitutional amendment would allow the use of medical marijuana, but does not change federal law, which makes possession, sale and cultivation a federal offense. The amendment creates regulations and licensing procedures for medical marijuana and medical marijuana facilities and establishes licensing fees. This amendment would impose a 4 percent tax on the retail sale of medical marijuana.

Our view: Although this is the "least bad" of the three marijuana issues, it is still "not good." This complicated issue deserves careful deliberation in the state legislature rather than being baked into the constitution.

Amendment 3

Summary: This would allow the use of medical marijuana and would impose a 15 percent tax on sales of such. This amendment makes Brad Bradshaw (the contact person for the petition) the research chairperson of a newly created research institute that is funded by fees and taxes.

Our view: Definitely don't vote for this. It is bad law, which among other things benefits a specific individual and should not be in the constitution.

Proposition C

Summary: This removes state prohibitions on medical marijuana with a written certification by a physician who treats a patient with a qualifying medical condition; removes prohibitions on growth, possession, production and sale of medical marijuana; imposes a 2 percent tax on the retail sale of medical marijuana.

Our view: As with the other two marijuana petitions, this is at odds with current federal law. The measures are opposed by the Missouri Police Chiefs Association as well as the Missouri State Medical Association and deserve a no vote.

Amendment 4

Summary: Under this amendment, language would be removed from the constitution that disallows Bingo game advertising that a court has ruled unenforceable; and allows a member of a licensed organization to conduct Bingo games after being a member of the organization for six months rather than the current two years.

Our view: We support the amendment. Bingo organizations should have every right to advertise their organizations in the same way casinos or other organizations do.

Proposition B

Summary: This measure would increase Missouri's state minimum wage to $12 with 85-cent increases until it hits that number in 2023. "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.

Our view: We oppose this amendment on the basic economic theory it will be counterproductive. Minimum wage jobs are typically teenage positions or entry-level positions. Increases in costs most likely will increase the likelihood for automation to eliminate such positions. Moreover, the state already has a law that automatically increases the minimum wage. This proposition merely jumps the rate faster, threatening economic growth for many at the benefit of a few.

Proposition D

Summary: Prop D would increase the motor fuel tax by 2 1/2 cents per gallon annually for four years, exempt Special Olympic, Paralympic and Olympic prizes from state taxes and establish an emergency state freight bottleneck fund. It would disperse much of the funds to local entities to pay for road and bridge projects. And while much of the money will go to the Missouri Highway Patrol, much of that funding will free up funds to go directly to road projects.

Our view: We recommend a yes vote on Prop D to address the aging and crumbling highway infrastructure in Missouri. Missouri has among the lowest fuel taxes in the nation, and even with this increase will still have lower fuel tax than Illinois. It will make a huge difference in our highways in the state, while also ensuring that local entities away from St. Louis and Kansas City get their fair share.

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