Tomorrow when we go to the polls we will be asked to vote on state and local candidates for office. United for Missouri does not endorse or oppose candidates for office.

However, we will also be voting on five (5) proposed amendments to our state Constitution. We the People reserved the right to change our Constitution to ourselves which means the Governor nor the General Assembly may do so on their own.

The five (5) amendments have caused some controversy. Three (3) of the five (5) deal with making changes to our Constitution that we at United for Missouri believe will provide ways for Missouri to end its position as a Federal enforcement agency. What does that mean?

The federal government passes many laws, rules and regulations. Most of them require some type of enforcement. In many cases, states like Missouri accept federal funds to be the enforcement agency. To some that sounds good, it’s a source of “additional” revenue for the state. In reality, it makes the state deputized federal agents working against Missouri residents.

Most of us are aware of the growing burden of an ever expanding and overreaching federal government today. What most of us are not aware of is that our own state agencies either willingly or through legislative direction become enablers of that big government approach. It’s time to stop it.

Nullification, Convention of the States and other alternatives to ridding us of overreaching federal laws are often discussed. We support using any and all tools at our disposal but suggest that the most immediate solution is to simply stop being Federal agents! And that is exactly what Amendments 1, 5 and 9 do for our state.

By now, many of you have probably made up your mind on the various amendments. In the event you are looking for more information, we present the following for your consideration. United for Missouri receives no funding to be for or against any issue so our recommendations are based on what we believe the right course of action is for our state.

You can click on the links below to see the actual language that will go into the Constitution if approved. Following this recommendation summary is the basis for the recommendations themselves.

Whether you agree or disagree with our recommendations, the most important thing you can and should do on Tuesday, August 5th is to be informed and then VOTE! If you are not an informed voter, you should do us all a favor and not vote.

Amendment 1 – Right to Farm                                                         YES

Amendment 5 – Unalienable Right to Bear Arms              YES

Amendment 7 – Transportation Sales Tax                             NO

Amendment 8 – Veterans Lottery Ticket                                NEUTRAL

Amendment 9 – Electronic Data Protection                         YES

Basis for recommendations

Amendment 1

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure that the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed?

The potential costs or savings to governmental entities are unknown, but likely limited unless the resolution leads to increased litigation costs and/or the loss of federal funding.

Fair Ballot Language:

“yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to guarantee the rights of Missourians to engage in farming and ranching practices, subject to any power given to local government under Article VI of the Missouri Constitution.

“no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution regarding farming and ranching.

If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.

This is probably one of the most controversial amendments among conservatives. It’s pretty safe to say that almost everyone would concede we have the right to farm today so why add these two sentences to the Missouri Constitution? A fair question but first let’s address some of the false information being used against Amendment 1.

  • Big Ag wrote bill
  • Monsanto paying for campaign
  • Chinese will buy Missouri
  • Existing laws overridden

All of these allegations are demonstrably false. Their purpose is to stir up angst and cause confusion about Amendment 1.

However, there are those who ask the question we posed earlier, why do we need to add an existing right to the Constitution and doesn’t that make that right subject to government regulation?

As to the first part of the question, why should we add it to the Constitution, we would simply refer you to the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution. A very similar discussion was had about adding rights to the Constitution. If you think any of the Bill of Rights is being infringed now just think what it would be like if they were not in writing! Amendment 1 is similar.

As to whether we subject our right to government regulation, Amendment 1 adds no regulations, does not establish new laws nor does it overturn existing laws. It’s not vague as some claim. It very clearly refers to Article VI of the Missouri Constitution which deals with local governments.

Many rightfully complain about some local laws, rules and regulations as well as some of those at the state level. The problem isn’t the Constitutional authority. The problem is that We the People haven’t exerted our authority. If local or state governments have laws, rules and regulations we believe are in violation of rights, we have a number of ways to deal with that problem.

We can always sue. Many will say that they do not have the funds to sue and that may be the case. However, in some cases you can find lawyers who will represent you based on winning the case. You might also get a class action suit setup. Money isn’t always the limiter we think it is.

But even if a lawsuit isn’t the route, weighing in with our elected officials is always in order. If there are rules and regulations we don’t like or infringe on our rights, then we need to take it to those who make those rules and regulations or “codes”.  And if they don’t or won’t respond, then we need to change the code makers!

Bottom line is that Amendment 1 is a necessary protection for our rights in today’s environment. It will provide a basis for preventing outside groups from coming in and proposing changes to Missouri agricultural practices. But most importantly, it will serve as the basis to prevent Missouri governments and agencies from being Federal agents. We the People may need to remind our elected officials of this Constitutional duty.

Amendment 5

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to include a declaration that the right to keep and bear arms is a unalienable right and that the state government is obligated to uphold that right?

State and local governmental entities should have no direct costs or savings from this proposal. However, the proposal’s passage will likely lead to increased litigation and criminal justice related costs. The total potential costs are unknown, but could be significant.

Fair Ballot Language:

“yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to expand the right to keep and bear arms to include ammunition and related accessories for such arms. This amendment also removes the language that states the right to keep and bear arms does not justify the wearing of concealed weapons. This amendment does not prevent the legislature from limiting the rights of certain felons and certain individuals adjudicated as having a mental disorder.

“no”; vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution regarding arms, ammunition, and accessories for such arms.

If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.

This amendment also causes conservatives some level of confusion about how to vote. As with Amendment 1, people believe that we already have the right to bear arms guaranteed in the US Constitution so why add it to the Missouri Constitution?

One of the most important aspects of Amendment 5 is the addition of this language to the Missouri Constitution. Why? This amendment would preclude Missouri Law Enforcement officials from enforcing any Federal laws that are in conflict with the amendment. Most of us would agree that state and local law enforcement shouldn’t be enforcing any federal laws especially when it comes to gun control matters but they do.

You can get more info on Amendment 5 from our friends at MOFirst here.

Amendment 7

Official Ballot Title:

Should the Missouri Constitution be changed to enact a temporary sales tax of three-quarters of one percent to be used solely to fund state and local highways, roads, bridges and transportation projects for ten years, with priority given to repairing unsafe roads and bridges?

This change is expected to produce $480 million annually to the state’s Transportation Safety and Job Creation Fund and $54 million for local governments.  Increases in the gas tax will be prohibited.  This revenue shall only be used for transportation purposes and cannot be diverted for other uses.

Fair Ballot Language:

“yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to increase funding for state, county, and municipal street, road, bridge, highway, and public transportation initiatives by increasing the state sales/use tax by three-quarters of one percent for 10 years. This amendment further prohibits a change in gasoline taxes and prohibits toll roads or bridges. This amendment also requires these measures to be re-approved by voters every 10 years.

“no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution to increase funding for state, county, and municipal street, road, bridge, highway, and public transportation initiatives.

If passed, this measure will increase the state sales/use tax.

Missouri has traditionally funded our road building and repairs via user related fees such as the gas/diesel tax and vehicle registration fees. Amendment 7 would move from a user fee basis to a sales tax on everything except gas/diesel and food.  It’s a bad idea.

MoDOT contends they will be out of funds to do even the most rudimentary repair work on our roads in the next few years. However, the funds from Amendment 7 will be used to rebuild I-70 and then I-44.

In addition, 10% of the funds generated from this statewide sales tax will go to local governments who already have published plans to use the money for things that are not road related such as bike trails, walking trails, street cars, etc. Don’t know about you but this is not the way to use a statewide sales tax for transportation!

Part of the problem MoDOT says is that we are driving fewer miles in more efficient vehicles causing the gas/diesel tax revenues to decline. They contend it would take a very large increase in fuel taxes to generate sufficient funds.

The answer is not a sales tax that would be used for things other than roads. MoDOT needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with a proposal that includes increases in user related fees and a legitimate toll road concept proposal that includes viable alternative access to the toll road.

Amendment 8

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to create a “Veterans Lottery Ticket” and to use the revenue from the sale of these tickets for projects and services related to veterans?

The annual cost or savings to state and local governmental entities is unknown, but likely minimal. If sales of a veterans lottery ticket game decrease existing lottery ticket sales, the profits of which fund education, there could be a small annual shift in funding from education to veterans’ programs.

Fair Ballot Language:

“yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to create a “Veterans Lottery Ticket.” This amendment further provides that the revenue from the sale of these tickets will be used for projects and services related to veterans.

“no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution to create a “Veterans Lottery Ticket.”

If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes

This amendment is a sad one as we are placing our veterans’ needs contingent on the purchase of a lottery ticket. How did we get here?

Fact of the matter is that Missouri has a history of placing our the needs of our veterans at the mercy of gambling.  When gambling was first instituted in Missouri, there was a $2 boarding fee for each “guest” coming to the gambling boats. That fee still exists today but how it is distributed has changed.

Originally, $1 of the boarding fee went to the governmental entity in which the boat was located. That $1 remains unchanged.

The other $1 part of the boarding fee originally went to a veterans’ fund. However, when Mel Carnahan decided he wanted to run for US Senate, he and the early childhood education folks got together and somehow convinced the veterans to give up their portion of the boarding fee.  Since then, the veteran funds have continued to decline. These funds are used for veterans’ homes etc. The fund is projected to go broke in the next few years leaving our veterans without a means of funding their needs.

Over the years, the legislature has tried to find a compromise to return at least a portion of the boarding fee back to veterans. Sadly, those efforts have failed as early childhood refuses to give up what was not rightfully theirs to begin with and no legislator wants to be accused of being against children.

Amendment 8 is a tough call.

Amendment 9

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects?

State and local governmental entities expect no significant costs or savings.

Fair Ballot Language:

“yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to specify that electronic data and communications have the same protections from unreasonable searches and seizures as persons, papers, homes, and effects.

“no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution regarding protections for electronic communications and data.

If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.

We are all aware of the NSA and their data collection efforts on US citizens. Amendment 9 will not stop those efforts but it will stop search and seizure of our electronic data without a warrant.

Recently the US Supreme Court ruled that our smart phones could not be searched without a warrant. Amendment 9 ensures that no Missouri Law Enforcement officer can search our laptops, tablets or our emails without a warrant. Without Amendment 9, there is no prohibition from this occurring.

As with Amendments 1 and 5, Amendment 9 restricts what Missouri agencies including law enforcement can do when it comes to enforcing federal laws. It’s a good amendment and should be passed overwhelmingly.

Conclusion

It’s important to be informed. You may or may not agree with some or all of our recommendations but it is important that you know why you don’t agree. There is nothing wrong with disagreement if it’s based on facts and not hyperbole.

Be informed and vote tomorrow!

#2014 August