(UPDATED to reflect Western District Appeals Court decision on Proposition D and provide link to decision.)
 
Once again, Missouri’s general election ballot will contain several proposals for voters to decide upon.  There will be four (4) Constitutional Amendments and three (3) statutory initiatives.
 
The four (4) Constitutional Amendments will be:
 

Amendment 1 – Clean (Dirty) Missouri

Amendment 2 – New Approach Medical Marijuana

Amendment 3 – Bradshaw Medical Marijuana

Amendment 4 – Bingo Fix

 
The three (3) statutory initiatives are:

Proposition B – Minimum Wage increase to $12 by 2023

Proposition C – Statutory Medical Marijuana

Proposition D – Olympic Medals/Gas Tax

 

(NOTE: the titles after the amendment number or proposition letter are not “official” titles but the general descriptive titles. You will not see these titles on the ballot, only the amendment number or proposition letter.)

WARNING – RANT ALERT!

Of the seven (7) items appearing on the November ballot, five (5) of them were placed there through the initiative petition process. There are many who decry the initiative petition process because “bad” stuff gets on the ballot.
 

Aside from the fact that’s not the only way “bad” stuff gets on the ballot, the legislature puts some doozies on as well, the initiative petition process is one of the ways We the People can and do exercise authority over our state government.
 

The fact that so many “bad” things get on the ballot is not due to the initiative process. It’s simply a mechanism. The reason “bad” things get on the ballot and are occasionally adopted is because voters do not pay enough attention to what they are signing.

Fix the voter’s unwillingness to truly read what they are signing, understanding what they read, and then make an informed decision then you will have fixed the problem!

If a voter doesn’t have the time to read the initiative for themselves, can’t take the time to read the initiative, or doesn’t want to read the initiative, THEY SHOULD NOT SIGN!

It’s not the process that is broken – it’s more often the voters who sign them!

RANT OVER

 
We will begin our review of these issues with the Constitutional Amendments. These amendments will appear prior to the Propositions. Both will be at or near the end of your ballot.

You will find a link to the Secretary of State’s webpage for a more detailed description of the issues at the end of each write-up.

If you want to go directly to the PROPOSITIONS part of this blog, click here.

 

AMENDMENT 1

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

  • change process and criteria for redrawing state legislative districts during reapportionment;
  • change limits on campaign contributions that candidates for state legislature can accept from individuals or entities;
  • establish a limit on gifts that state legislators, and their employees, can accept from paid lobbyists;
  • prohibit state legislators, and their employees, from serving as paid lobbyists for a period of time;
  • prohibit political fundraising by candidates for or members of the state legislature on State property; and
  • require legislative records and proceedings to be open to the public?

State governmental entities estimate annual operating costs may increase by $189,000. Local governmental entities expect no fiscal impact.

My thought in 2016 was that Amendment 2 (Campaign Finance ‘Reform’) was one of the worst if not the worst ballot issue we’ve ever seen.  My predictions of Amendment 2 being the sham it is have come true. The courts have thrown most of it out as violating constitutional freedom of speech issues and the remaining campaign finance restrictions have all but eliminated the transparency once present in the system.

Not to be outdone, the supporters of Amendment 1 on the 2018 General Election ballot have foisted upon voters a measure vying for the coveted title of “Worse of the Worst”!

(NOTE: for any progressives who may be reading: foisted – To pass off as genuine, valuable, or worthy even though it isn’t.

The proponents of Amendment 1 purposely are deceptive in their descriptions of the measure.

They want voters to believe it’s all about ethics reform and transparency. It is nothing of the sort!

Every “ethics” related item in Amendment 1 was poised to be passed by the legislature in the past session. However, the proponents of fooling the people in Amendment 1 refused to allow the reforms to come up for a vote under threat of filibuster! If it were not for that threat, these reforms would already be in place! There is no need to put them into the state constitution!

Next, the proponents want voters to believe that Amendment 1 will bring transparency to legislative communications. Aside from the issue that there is no need for this element to be in the constitution either except to deceive people, the transparency provisions in the measure will expose all communications from constituents to their elected officials to open records request WITHOUT providing for any redaction of information!

As a former legislator, I can tell you that people will give you their life history when communicating to you when seeking assistance. It won’t matter how personal or how the information would subject people to identification theft or embarrassment, Amendment 1 DOES NOT provide for keeping that information from having to be provided to anyone making a request for these records!

So, if these portions could (and would) be done by statute, why are they in the measure and what is the real purpose of Amendment 1?

The answer to the first question is quite simple, the proponents of Amendment 1 KNOW that voters would not be eager to support the real purpose of the measure, so they are using deceptive language to distract from the real purpose!

The real purpose of Amendment 1 is to completely change the way state house and senate districts are drawn giving the power to ONE unelected individual the power to draw districts. If you are one of those who thinks today’s districts are gerrymandered, you’ll love the gerrymandering on steroids that will result if Amendment 1 passes!

The current process has worked for the past thirty (30) plus years. It has seen Democrat majorities and Republican majorities. Communities of interest are protected as well as other important factors.

The current system kicks in when the decennial census is finished. Two (2) separate commissions, each comprised of ten (10) citizens, are selected in equal numbers, by the Governor not legislators, from lists provided by the two (2) parties receiving the most votes for governor in the last preceding election. One (1) commission redraws the House districts and one (1) redraws the Senate. Not only do the House or Senate members not get to choose the members of the commissions, none of them can sit on these commissions.

Each of these commissions redraw the districts according to the latest census numbers. Once drawn, it takes the agreement of seven (7) commissioners to approve the maps. If the commission(s) cannot agree, the Missouri Supreme Court choose six (6) appellate court judges to determine the maps. The latter is how the districts have been drawn the last two (2) times.

Amendment 1 would put ALL this power in the hands of ONE UNELECTED person! The two (2) commissions would still exist but they have very little power. It would take the vote of seven (7) of the commissioners on either commission to reject the work of this one unelected person!

What about the fallback of the judges selecting when no agreement is reached? That’s gone too!

Amendment 1 is all about radically changing who represents us. The measure provides for “fair” and “competitive” districts.

Under Amendment 1, it won’t matter about communities of interest. It won’t matter whether rural, urban, suburban, etc. communities of interest is no longer a prime factor. It will all be about “fair” and “competitive” even if that means diluting various voting blocs!

And that’s exactly what it means – dividing and conquering Missourians!

Amendment 1 is being supported mainly from out-of-state, leftist organizations many of them funded directly or indirectly by George Soros. It’s a national movement to destroy representative government for the people and make it representative of government!

We can stand up here in Missouri and tell those who are attempting to overthrow our communities of interest and associated representation not just NO but HELL NO!

Click here for information from the Secretary of State’s office on Amendment 1.
 
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AMENDMENT 2

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

  • allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and create regulations and licensing/certification procedures for marijuana and marijuana facilities;
  • impose a 4 percent tax on the retail sale of marijuana; and
  • use funds from these taxes for health and care services for military veterans by the Missouri Veterans Commission and to administer the program to license/certify and regulate marijuana and marijuana facilities?

This proposal is estimated to generate annual taxes and fees of $18 million for state operating costs and veterans programs, and $6 million for local governments. Annual state operating costs are estimated to be $7 million.

There are three (3) different medical marijuana measures on the ballot, two (2) proposed constitutional amendments and one (1) statutory initiative. All three (3) reached the ballot through the initiative petition process.

It’s important to note that none of the three (3) measures do anything to eliminate the fact that marijuana use, whether prescribed or not, remains illegal under Federal law.

Also, it’s important to understand that each of the measures require that a list of “patients” be maintained. This list could very well be subject to Federal seizure and result in identifying violators of Federal law subject to prosecution.

Under federal law, anyone who uses marijuana is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because of the federal Gun Control Act of 1968.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives wrote an open letter to gun dealers in 2011, instructing them not to issue guns to people who have a medical-marijuana card.

The Federal government has not seen fit to pursue citizens in states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use by enforcing Federal law. There is no guarantee that will remain Federal policy.

All that aside, it does not mean that states should not be deciding this and many other issues that the Federal government has been guilty of usurping. However, it would be unwise not to be aware of the situation.

Medical marijuana has been an ongoing discussion across the country and here in Missouri. It does appear that by and large, Missourians support allowing citizens to use medical marijuana if prescribed by a doctor.

If the constitutional amendment legalized the use of medical marijuana and provided a framework for the legislature to establish the program, I would be recommending you consider a YES vote. But it doesn’t.

Amendment 2 is following an ever-increasing trend of legislating through the Constitution rather than statute as should be done. Authorizing or prohibiting functions, things that can or can’t be taxed, etc. are rightfully constitutional implementations. Describing in detail how things should function is not.

Amendment 2 not only legalizes the use of medical marijuana, but it puts detailed requirements that should be in statute, not in the constitution.

In addition, once the board established in the measure is established and operating, it is not subject to any oversight from any elected official. In fact, it would be illegal for any elected official to even point out problems as the constitution would prohibit them from “interfering”!

The proponents of Amendment 2 express their concern that if they do not put this measure in the constitution, the legislature will not implement the intended medical marijuana program or do so without undue interference with it. I understand the concern, but it is NOT ENOUGH to justify putting this measure as written into our constitution.

The upside is that Amendment 2 is the better of the two (2) proposed constitutional amendments.

Click here for information from the Secretary of State’s office on Amendment 2.
 
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AMENDMENT 3

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

  • allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and create regulations and licensing procedures for marijuana and marijuana facilities;
  • impose a 15 percent tax on the retail sale of marijuana, and a tax on the wholesale sale of marijuana flowers and leaves per dry-weight ounce to licensed facilities; and
  • use funds from these taxes to establish and fund a state research institute to conduct research with the purpose of developing cures and treatments for cancer and other incurable diseases or medical conditions?

This proposal is estimated to generate annual taxes and fees of $66 million. State governmental entities estimate initial implementation costs of $186,000 and increased annual operating costs of $500,000.

The second of the three (3) medical marijuana measures on the ballot is a huge mess!

We oppose Amendment 3 on the same grounds as Amendment 2, it contains details that don’t belong in the constitution. However, Amendment 3 has even more problems that Amendment 2.

The measure would make the primary proponent for the measure the Czar over its implementation, it’s day-to-day operations, and do so essentially for life!

Amendment 3 also expands eminent domain authority and provides the authority to use it to this quasi-government entity. It’s only quasi- because it would be in the constitution, a similar problem to Amendment 2 mentioned above, but it’s really a private organization.

Amendment 3 has the highest proposed tax at fifteen (15) percent. There are concerns that both Amendment 2 and Amendment 3 are intended to enrich certain people. There is no doubt that will happen in Amendment 3!

Whether you support the approval of medical marijuana in Missouri or not, Amendment 3 is definitely NOT the way to do it.

Click here for information from the Secretary of State’s office on Amendment 3.
 
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AMENDMENT 4

Do you want to amend the Missouri constitution to:

  • remove language limiting bingo game advertising that a court ruled unenforceable; and
  • allow a member of a licensed organization conducting bingo games to participate in the management of bingo games after being a member of the organization for six months instead of the current two years?

State and local governmental entities estimate no costs or savings from this proposal.

The last constitutional amendment on the ballot is aimed at fixing problems with the Bingo system in Missouri.

Now before you go all “what is government doing involved in Bingo” on me, the fact is the Missouri Constitution authorizes Bingo and all other forms of games of chance, etc. existing in the state. We the People voted to authorize and set rules for Bingo in 1980.

Unlike the other three amendments, Amendment 4 was placed on the ballot by the Missouri General Assembly. If it passes, Amendment 4 will remove the constitutional ban on advertising bingo games by organizations conducting them and it will lower the time required that someone is a member of an organization to manage a bingo game for that organization from two years to six months.

There have been previous attempts to change the length of time someone must be a member of an organization, but the change has been rejected. The constitution requires organizations that conduct Bingo games be religious, charitable, fraternal, service, or veteran organizations.

These organizations do good work in our communities and have seen their ability to do so challenged with changes. It’s time we provided them the increased opportunity to continue to be effective contributors to our community by voting YES on Amendment 4.

Click here for information from the Secretary of State’s office on Amendment 4.
 
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PROPOSITIONS

Next on the ballot will be the propositions.  As with the constitutional amendments, all but one of these were placed on the ballot through the initiative petition process.
 
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Proposition B

Do you want to amend Missouri law to:

  • increase the state minimum wage to $8.60 per hour with 85 cents per hour increase each year until 2023, when the state minimum wage would be $12.00 per hour;
  • exempt government employers from the above increase; and
  • increase the penalty for paying employees less than the minimum wage?

State and local governments estimate no direct costs or savings from the proposal, but operating costs could increase by an unknown annual amount that could be significant. 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.

Proposition B seeks to raise the Missouri Minimum Wage to $12 per hour by the year 2023. The minimum wage does not apply to any level of government.

Sadly, Missouri voters once again not considering the facts, have voted in the past for this “feel good” issue. As we have seen in places that went for the whole hog, the “holy grail” of minimum wage, $15 per hour, these measures have little positive impact.

Sooner or later, and most of the time much sooner, the effect of these artificial increased wages takes their toll on jobs and other prices. The result is very little long-term gain for those earning the minimum wage which in turn results in “do gooders” coming back and voters falling for the same old song and dance to increase the minimum wage yet again.

Fact of the matter is that minimum wage jobs are not intended to sustain families. They have always been intended to provide a nominal wage for those who are not trained or who are getting trained for higher skilled jobs.

What we have seen in the past few decades are that these entry level, temporary jobs have become more permanent. The reason? They serve as a cover for the utter and distinct failure of our public-school system to adequately prepare students for the future.

Thomas Jefferson said it best, “An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight. It is therefore imperative that the nation see to it that a suitable education be provided for all its citizens.

Somewhere along the line we lost the sight of the intent of public education, to prepare citizens to be self-governing. Education today spends too much time teaching kids what to think, not how to think. We need only watch many of the “protesters” in our streets today to see this truth.

We’ve lost sight of the fact that not everyone needs to go to college. We have lost sight of the fact that people without college degrees but with skills that are either naturally occurring and have been sharpened or gained through training, contribute as much to society and our economy as those with college degrees. We must have both kinds of educated citizens.

The increasing of minimum wages does nothing to improve people’s lives or achieve this outcome. These increases are sorry excuses for not addressing the real problems we have created by ignoring our public education system.

Insanity – “doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result!”

Don’t be a part of perpetuating this failure! Vote NO on Proposition B!

Click here for information from the Secretary of State’s office on Proposition B.
 
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Proposition C

Do you want to amend Missouri law to:

  • remove state prohibitions on personal use and possession of medical cannabis (marijuana) with a written certification by a physician who treats a patient diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition;
  • remove state prohibitions on growth, possession, production, and sale of medical marijuana by licensed and regulated facilities, and a facility’s licensed owners and employees;
  • impose a 2% tax on the retail sale of medical marijuana; and
  • use funds from this tax for veterans’ services, drug treatment, early childhood education, and for public safety in cities with a medical marijuana facility?
  • State government entities estimate initial and one-time costs of $2.6 million, annual costs of $10 million, and annual revenues of at least $10 million. Local government entities estimate no annual costs and are expected to have at least $152,000 in annual revenues.

Proposition C is the third and last of the medical marijuana questions on the ballot. Like the two (2) constitutional amendments it is seeking to legalize medical marijuana and establishes the process, procedures, and requirements to do so. It shares the same exposure to Federal law enforcement issues as the two (2) constitutional amendments.

Unlike the other two (2) constitutional amendments, Proposition C achieves its objectives through statute rather than putting unwieldy and troublesome verbiage in our constitution. This means that if there are errors in the process, procedures, or requirements, they can be fixed without waiting for the people to vote on yet another constitutional amendment!

As I mentioned earlier, the proponents of the constitutional amendments don’t trust the legislature to do the right thing. Many people would say, “join the crowd!”.

But the fact remains that there WILL be issues arise from the implementation of medical marijuana that are not anticipated in the two (2) constitutional amendments nor the statutory initiative.

For example, all of the dispensers of medical marijuana and those granting licenses for growing it for personal medical use, should be required to inform patients/licensees that under current Federal law, they are prohibited from buying, owning, or possessing a firearm by their use marijuana. Under Proposition C, that could easily be done. If the Federal law changes removing marijuana off the controlled substance list, the requirement to obtain informed consent can easily and quickly be changed.

That is not the case for either Amendment 2 or Amendment 3. Both constitutional amendments are cast in concrete. They can be chiseled and changed but ONLY by another vote of the people and an expensive statewide election. That’s the wrong approach.

The use of medical marijuana presents a big problem for many. They don’t want to start down that road to legalization. If you’re one of those who believe that way, you will want to vote NO on Proposition C.

However, if you are one who believes that medical marijuana prescribed by medical personnel should be part of the arsenal to help patients cope better with their disease management or end-of-life scenarios and you’re good with the risk from the Feds, this is the measure you will want to vote YES on, Proposition C.

Click here for information from the Secretary of State’s office on Proposition C.
 
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Proposition D

Shall Missouri law be amended to fund Missouri state law enforcement by increasing the motor fuel tax by two and one half cents per gallon annually for four years beginning July 1, 2019, exempt Special Olympic, Paralympic, and Olympic prizes from state taxes, and to establish the Emergency State Freight Bottleneck Fund?

If passed, this measure will generate at least $288 million annually to the State Road Fund to provide for the funding of Missouri state law enforcement and $123 million annually to local governments for road construction and maintenance.

Proposition D is the last statewide issue on the ballot. It was placed on the ballot by the Missouri General Assembly.

If passed, it will increase the state motor fuel tax by ten (10) cents per gallon when fully implemented in four (4) years.

There are several problems with Proposition D.

First, the courts essentially took a pass on their constitutional duties to ensure that bills passed by the legislature contain a single subject. The bill that became Proposition D most certainly does not pass the constitutional muster in this area.

Article III, Section 23 of the Missouri State Constitution says in part: “No bill shall contain more than one subject which shall be clearly expressed in its title,…” (emphasis added)

The single subject of House Bill (HB) 1460 began as “To repeal section 143.121, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof one new section relating to a tax deduction for certain Olympic athletes.”

The bill passed the House and was sent to the Senate. While in the Senate, the gas tax was added along with the Emergency State Freight Bottleneck Fund.

Sadly, the courts found that “taxes” was a single subject and that the addition of the gas tax and new fund was a single subject. So with this ruling and the ruling challenging the single subject standing of Amendment 1, the courts have essentially opened the door to a very loose interpretation of “single subject”. Their decision will come back to haunt Missourians.

UPDATE
The circuit court determined that there was no violation of the single subject requirement. The Western District Court of Appeals bailed out of the case by declaring that the issue was not ripe yet. In other words, citizens could challenge the single subject violation after the election! You can read their decision in RONALD J. CALZONE AND C. MICHAEL MOON, vs.JOHN R. ASHCROFT, ET AL.

Second, there is no question we have legitimate transportation needs in Missouri. I-70 is the oldest interstate in the country. We have several bridges needing attention.

But there is also no question that there are legitimate concerns about the usage of current fuel tax funds.

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) bonded themselves into a position that significantly reduced the cash flow available for projects. A number of those bonds are beginning to mature and the fuel tax dollars going to make those payments become available for dedicating to transportation needs.

But even if you believe that we need additional funds currently, we don’t need a permanent ten (10) cent gas tax increase.

Third, while this is a fuel tax, the money collected IS NOT restricted to roads and bridges. We already spend fuel taxes on bicycle ramps, walking paths, river ports, trains, etc. All those make use of funds collected from fuel taxes and take them for non-fuel tax related items!

As of this writing, I’ve not seen any commercials in support of Proposition D yet but they are coming. There are millions of dollars being collected to support the passage of this measure. Mark my word, if it looks as though the measure may not pass, we will see videos of school buses falling off collapsed bridges and the like. We might see them anyway just to make sure we get the message.

The legislature has failed to do its job of fully assessing the true transportation related needs of the state. They’ve done an exceptionally poor job of assessing the efficiency and efficient use of the funds already collected for those needs. Always a lot of talk about doing it, but no action.

Until that’s done Missourians should continue to tell the legislature no more fuel taxes.

Missourians should vote NO on Proposition D!

Click here for information from the Secretary of State’s office on Proposition D.
 
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Here’s a summary of our recommended positions:

Amendment 1

NO

Amendment 2

NO

Amendment 3

NO

Amendment 4

YES

Proposition B

NO

Proposition C

qualified YES

Proposition D

NO

 
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