While the media has focused mainly on the presidential election in the past year, there are several other important offices up for grabs and many contentious issues at the “bottom of the ballot.” In Missouri, there are several ballot measures that voters should be aware of before heading into the voting booth.
Constitutional Amendment 1
Voting “yes” on this amendment would support a continuation of a tax that is already in place. This one-tenth of one percent sales/use tax is used for soil and water conservation and for state parks and historic sites. If passed, this measure will not increase taxes.
Constitutional Amendment 2
If this amendment passes, there will be limits implemented on the campaign contributions that individuals can make to political parties or to political committees to elect candidates for state office. This would also prohibit groups from concealing where these contributions come from. The amendment would require corporations and organizations to meet a set of criteria before making contributions and to create a process of appeals for violations of this amendment. Many politicians, including Gov. Jay Nixon and Sen. Claire McCaskill support that amendment, while groups like the Missouri Electric Cooperatives stated that such measures were “in violation of the First Amendment.”
Constitutional Amendment 3
This amendment would increase taxes on cigarettes gradually, eventually ending in a 60 cent increase by 2020. Funds from this tax would go to the newly established Early Childhood Health and Education Trust Fund. Various groups, including the American Heart Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, oppose this measure.
“It’s important for Missourians to get the real facts about this flawed constitutional tax increase,” said Bradley Ketcher, deputy treasurer of the nonprofit We Deserve Better. “Amendment 3 is loaded with benefits for Big Tobacco, including banning the funding of research into the harmful effects of smoking and banning public advocacy for stricter tobacco laws. It creates a huge new bureaucracy in Missouri, and it allows a raid on public school funds by a panel of unelected bureaucrats. It has unacceptable long-term implications for patients and medical research – the list goes on and on and on. It’s clear that North Carolina-based Big Tobacco seeks to amend the Missouri Constitution to benefit itself. Early childhood education supporters and Missouri citizens are just pawns in their game.”
Amendment 3 is competing with Proposition A (below).
Constitutional Amendment 4
This amendment would make a state or local sales taxes on services illegal. Services, like day care and haircuts, are currently untaxed in the state (as opposed to goods). Groups like the Missouri Grocers Association and Home Builders Associations support this amendment, as they contend that such a tax would hurt low-income families and seniors. Supporters of the tax assert that such a tax would add more money to local economies.
Constitutional Amendment 6
If passed, this amendment would require voters to present government-issued identification when voting. Currently, voters may bring an official piece of mail, government document or I.D. to prove their identity. Supporters state that such an amendment would prevent voter fraud.
“There’s the potential out there for voter fraud,” said former Mo. Rep. Tony Dugger. “Being a former county clerk and working on elections for fourteen years, I think it’s a good measure to put in place in the state of Missouri — to have the security there.”
Others have called the measure discriminatory.
A statement issued by the nonprofit Our Revolution said, “As with similar voter suppression measures around the country, this one is backed by Republican state legislators with the hope of disenfranchising up to 200,000 Missouri voters. Those voters include many eligible voters who are less likely to get a drivers license like students, poor people and people of color. It also includes veterans, as a veterans ID would not count for the purpose of voting. The reality is we have virtually no voter fraud in America. Missouri has had just 2 cases of voter fraud in the last 7 years. What is the fraud is that Republican legislators, in order to help their chances at the polls, are changing laws that disenfranchise thousands of voters. Measures like Amendment 6 have no place in our democracy.”
Proposition A is competing with constitutional amendment three. It would place an additional tax of 23 cents on cigarettes. Money from the tax is to be put toward transportation funds. In general, large tobacco companies support amendment three and smaller companies support proposition A.
The American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association and Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and Tobacco-Free Missouri issued a joint statement in opposition to both proposition A and amendment three. The statement said: “Small increases to the tobacco tax – like the proposals being considered – will generate new revenue, but will not keep kids from becoming addicted to cigarettes or help adults quit. Tobacco taxes work when the price increase is substantial enough to motivate current smokers to quit and prevent kids from starting. A dime here or there is not sufficient. Tobacco companies are adept at finding ways to absorb small tax increases through adjusted pricing. What’s worse, these marginal increases could hamper future efforts; promising profitable returns for the tobacco industry at the continued expense of Missourians’ health.”
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.