Missouri voters will see five constitutional amendments and one proposition on their Nov. 8 ballots. They range from essential to “meh.”
Spoiler alert: Vote against both sham cigarette tax increase requests — Amendment 3 and Proposition A. Here’s my special report on these irresponsible issues, which have been receiving most of the media attention this fall.
Here are endorsements on the six issues; ballot language for all of them is here:
Constitutional Amendment 1: HELL YES
Missourians have excellent reasons to extend the one-tenth-cent sales tax for soil and water conservation, as well as for state parks and historic sites. This tax has been a wonderful asset for the Show-Me State.
The tax is helping to make sure Missouri’s parks system doesn’t fall into disrepair, as has happened to other public services offered by the state. The tax, first approved in 1984, raises about $90 million annually and would last another 10 years if approved. That needs to happen.
Constitutional Amendment 2: YES
Voters get yet another chance to limit campaign contributions. Of course they should do so. Cash from millionaires flows into Missouri campaigns almost unregulated. Races are bought, or certainly appear to be.
Here are the problems: If the amendment is approved, it will be challenged in court. Ka-ching. That’s more money for the lawyers. And after decades of watching rich people such as St. Louis’ Rex Sinquefeld try to pull the political strings in Missouri, I fear they will figure out how to avoid this attempted restriction in the future.
Vote “yes,” but just don’t expect it to do much to really reduce the influence of money on political campaigns.
Constitutional Amendment 3: NO
This is the attempt to increase cigarette taxes by 60 cents a pack by 2020. It would go to fund the Early Childhood Health and Education Fund. Sounds great right? Alas, it’s backed by Big Tobacco — and opposed by all the health-related groups you would think would be for it. And by me.
Constitutional Amendment 4: NO
This is an unneeded attempt to prohibit state and local governments from imposing sales taxes on services that currently aren’t taxed. It’s being sold as a way to reduce government intrusion — as the “Taxpayer Protection Act.”
Examples of services that could never be taxed are day care, haircuts, dry cleaning, advertising and home services such as plumbing and lawn care.
This is an attempt by proponents to pick winners and losers: Tax him and her, not me, to pay for future public services. Don’t fall for it. As the official ballot language states: “Potential costs to state and local governmental entities are unknown, but could be significant. The proposal’s passage would impact governmental entity’s ability to revise their tax structures.”
Constitutional Amendment 6: HELL NO
This is the latest bid by state officials to impose unneeded voter ID restrictions on the people of Missouri. The official state summation points out this will cost taxpayers $2.1 million annually or more to provide some government-issued identification to people who don’t now have it.
Supporters of voter ID always talk about how they want to prohibit fraudulent voting — or as Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach sneers as he backs ID measures in his state — stop “aliens” from voting. But research shows time after time that voter fraud is a myth.
Meanwhile, courts have found that voter ID laws — pushed almost exclusively by Republican legislatures such as those in Missouri and Kansas — are illegally trying to make it more difficult for certain people to register. Those are minorities, older people and younger people, many of which are in the Democratic camp.
Proposition A: NO
This is the wrong-headed attempt to increase cigarette taxes by a puny 23 cents a pack by 2021. It would go to fund transportation improvements. It has poison pills in it, including one that it would go out of effect if other cigarette taxes are ever requested. How absurd, as I note here.