Election Preview: Ballot Initiatives

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The 2018 midterm elections have nearly arrived and The Hilltop Monitor is going to have a series of articles previewing elections in the local area. We are now going to analyze some of the initiatives that will be on the ballot Nov. 6. Here is an explanation on some of the biggest initiatives on the ballot, as well as their potential implications.

One of the biggest questions facing Missouri voters this November is whether or not to increase the state gas tax – the question posed by Proposition D. The gas tax currently sits at 17 cents per gallon, one of the lowest in the Midwest. It would increase by 2.5 cents every year for four years, a total increase of 10 cents. It is estimated that the tax would generate at least $288 million annually for the Highway Patrol and $123 million annually to local governments for road construction.

The bill containing this measure, which was sponsored by State Rep. Jean Evans (R-Manchester) passed the House by a vote of 88-60 back in May.

Proponents of the tax argue that there are many bridges and roads in need of repair and the tax would help pay for those repairs.

“We have major projects that need to be worked on here in Kansas City,” said State Rep. Greg Razer (D-Kansas City).

However, there are some who oppose the tax.

“We’re increasing revenues for the state and taking it out of the pockets of hard-working Americans,” said State Rep. Phil Christofanelli (R-St. Peters).

There are also many citizens who are wary about paying the government more in taxes.

If the tax increase gets at least 50 percent approval, the tax will be 27 cents per gallon by 2022. Although citizens will be paying more, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and cities would use the extra money – a projected $288 million – on road and infrastructure projects.

Missouri Amendment 2, which is backed by New Approach Missouri, is one of three medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot. It proposes legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, a tax rate of 4 percent on marijuana sales and spending the tax revenue on health care services for veterans.

Missouri Amendment 3, which is financed by Springfield attorney and doctor Brad Bradshaw, would also legalize medical marijuana, but with a tax rate of 15 percent and the revenue would go towards a Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute. According to Bradshaw, the amendment “will create 10,000-plus new jobs and it will create billions of economic impact for the state of Missouri.”

The third and final medical marijuana-based initiative on the ballot is Proposition C, which is supported by Missourians For Patient Care. It has the lowest tax rate among the three initiatives at two percent and the revenue will go to many areas, including education and law enforcement. As a proposition, it differs from the other two as it is a new law, while the other initiatives are amendments.

If any one of these initiatives passes, Missouri would join 30 other states in legalizing medical marijuana. The initiative you vote for really depends on whether you want a higher or lower tax rate, and where you want that money to go. If both amendments pass, the one with the most yes votes will take effect.

Opponents argue that medical marijuana leads to an increase in crime, while proponents see many benefits – not only for patients but for the economy as well.

The other big initiative on the ballot is Proposition B, led by Missouri Business for Fair Minimum Wage and Raise Up Missouri. If passed, the minimum wage would increase every year until it reached $12 in 2023. It would then increase or decrease based on changes in the Consumer Price Index. Employers who paid employees under the minimum wage would also be penalized under this initiative. The current minimum wage in Missouri is $7.85.

The proposal would result in an increase of more than $1 billion in consumer buying power in Missouri, according to an analysis conducted by the Economic Policy Institute. It would affect over 670,000 Missouri workers by the time it is fully implemented.

Lew Prince, treasurer of Raise Up Missouri, argues that “[r]aising wages for low-income workers would cut government spending and save taxpayer money.” Other proponents argue that people can’t afford basic necessities at the current minimum wage.

Opponents, like Rep. Warren Love (R-Osceola), argue that the government shouldn’t interfere in these issues and cite studies that question if a higher minimum wage is beneficial for the economy.

These are some of the issues facing Missouri voters this election. There will be a total of four amendments and three propositions on the ballot. A sample of the ballot can be seen here.

For any of these initiatives to pass, they will need at least 50 percent of the vote.

The midterm elections are Nov. 6. I strongly encourage everyone to not just go out and vote but to also do research and make informed decisions regarding these important issues. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “[d]emocracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

Photo courtesy of riverfronttimes.com.

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