Ballot Issues Explained

November 6th Statewide Amendments

18 states allow their citizens to collect signatures to get amendments placed on the ballot. This is the case in Missouri, and, luckily for us, the process here is easier than in many other states. 

Since amendments change the Missouri Constitution, it is very difficult to alter or repeal them because it would require a further vote of the people. As such, we need to hold these amendments to a higher degree of scrutiny to ensure they will be effective. Each one of these 4 amendments will appear on every Missourian's ballot this November. 

Amendment 1 - Lobbying, Campaign Finance, and Redistricting Initiative

A broad, bi-partisan group has come together to form what is called Clean Missouri, the organization that is behind the effort to pass Amendment 1. Amendment 1 will make some very sweeping changes to attempt to rid the Missouri legislature of special or partisan interests. There are 3 main categories that it deals with: Lobbying, Campaign Finance and Redistricting.

Lobbying

Unlike other surrounding states, Missouri places no financial limits on gifts lobbyists can give to state legislators. Legislators are currently allowed to benefit from unlimited gifts with no real oversight. Amendment 1 would place the cap on lobbyist gifts to $5 total. Additionally, Amendment 1 would require state legislators and state legislative employees to wait 2 years after they leave the legislature ends before they can become a paid lobbyist. 

Campaign Finance

If passed, Amendment 1 will prevent the Missouri legislature from making any law that will allow for unlimited fundraising for state legislative offices. If a donor provides more than one-half of a PAC's income, any donations from that PAC to an individual candidate will count towards the donor's per-election limit. Amendment 1 also reduces the cap on individual donations. The new per-election limits will be $2,500 for State Senate candidates and $2,000 for State House candidates. It would also prevent candidates from raising funds on state property. 

Redistricting

Amendment 1 would create a new position called the non-partisan state demographer who would be responsible for drawing Missouri's legislative map. A pool of applicants for this position will be provided by the State Auditor and approved by the State Senate Majority and Minority leaders. After approval, the demographer will draw the map and if the commission wants to make any changes, they will have to get 70% approval. If no changes are able to be made, then the lines become official. 

The demographer would be required to look at partisan fairness, competitiveness, contiguousness, compactness and existing boundaries of political subdivisions. Proponents of this measure believe that this will lead to a much more fair drawing of the lines since it will be taken out of partisan hands. It has received bipartisan support across the state and even across the country (Former Governor Schwarzenegger has endorsed Clean Missouri). However, opponents argue that it places way too much power into the hands of the State Auditor (a partisan office) by allowing them to propose the pool of applicants for the demographer position. 

To find the full text, a summary and plain language for Amendment 1, click here.    

 Amendment 2 - Medical Marijuana and Veteran Healthcare Services Initiative

The first medical marijuana measure on the ballot is Amendment 2. Amendment 2 has been driven by the New Approach Missouri PAC which has raised over $1.06 million. The amendment would allow medical marijuana to be prescribed by licensed physicians if a patient has 1 or more of 9 qualifying conditions.

There would be a 4% sales tax on the retail sale of marijuana. Revenue would go to providing healthcare services, job training, housing assistance and other services for veterans. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services would be the agency responsible for oversight and regulation. The Amendment would allow 24 dispensaries in each of Missouri's 8 Congressional Districts. Amendment 2 would not allow local governments to ban dispensaries, but it would allow them to regulate the location of the facilities and their hours and manner of operations. 

Amendment 2 is estimated to generate $24 million in state and local revenue and cost around $7 million. 

To read the full text of Amendment 2, click here

Amendment 3 - Medical Marijuana and Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute Initiative

Amendment 3 also deals with legalizing medical marijuana. The PAC behind the initiative, Find the Cures has raised $1.56 million in their effort to pass it. 99.99% of the money has come from one physician, Brad Bradshaw who started the PAC and wrote the text of the amendment. 

Amendment 3 would first create a new government institution called the Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute (BRDDI) which would oversee the state's marijuana program. Funds from the 15% tax on the retail sale of marijuana will go to the BRDDI which will be tasked with finding cures for cancer and other incurable diseases. The amendment is estimated to bring in state revenue of $66 million while costing just $500,000. This is because the cures that the BRDDI develops will be sold to generate income for the state. Cures will be available to Missouri residents at no charge. 

There will be a new position created called the Article XIV Coordinator who will appoint the Board Members. The text of the amendment states that the first Article XIV Coordinator will be the amendment's creator - Brad Bradshaw - until such a time he sees fit to step down. After that, the Governor can then appoint the Article XIV Coordinator. Many opponents argue that this gives Bradshaw too much power. Bradshaw tried suing to get the other marijuana proposals thrown out of court, but his attempt was shot down in court in August. 

To read the full text of Amendment 3, click here

Amendment 4 - Management and Advertisement of Bingo Games Amendment

Believe it or not, prior to 1980, bingo was illegal in Missouri. In November of that year, the state legislature referred to the ballot a constitutional amendment that would allow religious, charitable, fraternal, service or veteran organizations to conduct games of bingo. The legislature has the ability to amend the constitution so long as they put forth the proposed change to the voters of Missouri. In 1980, the voters of Missouri voted to pass this amendment with 71.5% of the vote. 

Amendment 4 attempts to change 2 things in the language of the current law. It would lower the time required that someone is a member of an organization to manage a bingo game for that organization from 2 years to 6 months and it would remove the constitutional ban on organizations advertising their bingo games outside of their own premises. 

The legislature has proposed these changes twice before - in 1990 and 2000. Both times, the voters of Missouri decided that the stakes were too high to change bingo laws. In 1990 it was defeated with 53% of the vote and in 2000 67% of voters voted no. 

There is no estimated revenue or cost associated with this amendment. 

To read the full text of Amendment 4, click here

Statewide Propositions

Proposition B - $12 Minimum Wage Initiative

Summary: Will increase state's minimum wage each year until reaching $12 in 2023. After that point, the minimum wage will increase or decrease based on changes in the Consumer Price Index. Hard to estimate potential costs/savings - Estimations range from $2.9 million decrease to $214 million increase. 

The current statewide minimum wage for Missouri is $7.85. In 2006, voters approved a ballot measure that increased the state minimum wage and also tied it to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Proposition B would increase the minimum wage to $12.00 by 2023. It would start off by increasing it to $8.60 in 2018 and then 85 cents every year after that until 2023.

After 2023, the minimum wage will be tied to what's called the CPI-W which is the CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, which more accurately reflects lower-income, working-class spending habits. It places more weight on items related to food, clothing, and transportation. 

To the see full text for this ballot initiative, click here

Proposition C - Medical Marijuana and Veterans Healthcare Services, Education, Drug Treatment, and Public Safety Initiative

Summary: Legalizes marijuana for medicinal purposes; will tax marijuana at 2%; tax revenue will be spent on veterans' services, drug treatment, education, and law enforcement. Annual costs estimated to be $10 million. Annual revenue estimated to be $10 million. 

Proposition C also legalizes marijuana for medical purposes with tax revenue going towards various services including for veterans and education. Out of 3 marijuana initiatives, Prop C has the lowest tax rate at 2%.

The reasoning behind submitting this as a proposition is because the authors believe that changes will need to be made as more is learned about regulating the marijuana industry in the future. 

To see the full text of the ballot initiative, click here

Proposition D - Gas Tax Increase, Olympic Prize Tax Exemption, and Traffic Reduction Fund Measure

Summary: Increases gas tax by 2.5 cents/gallon a year for the next 4 years to make it 27 cents a gallon total by 2022 with revenue going to state highway patrol. Exempts prizes from Special Olympics, Paralympics and Olympics from state taxes. Creates dedicated fund for road projects that reduce traffic bottlenecks that affect freight. Estimated to generate $288 million annually for MO state highway patrol and $123 million for local government for construction and maintenance. 

Proposition D was referred to the ballot by the legislature. The state legislature has the ability to draft legislation and have it approved by a vote of the people to make it law. The proposition deals with 3 main categories. 

First, Prop D aims to raise the gas tax on gasoline and diesel by 10 cents/gallon over the next 4 years. The gas tax has not increased in Missouri since 1996. Currently, Missouri has the 3rd lowest gas tax at 17 cents a gallon.  The revenue would go to the State Highway Patrol.

Prop D would also exempt all Olympic prizes from state income taxes. Additionally, it would create the Emergency State Freight Bottleneck Fund which would contain money allocated from the state's general fund. Money from the fund

To see the full text of the ballot initiative, click here

St. Louis County Ballot Issues

Charter Amendment 1 - County Campaign Finance Limitations ($2600/person)

Set a limit of $2600/person per election for County candidates, whereas now there is no limit. Also, no candidate can accept donations from persons or entities that are competing for County contracts.

Charter Amendment 2 - County Parks

Any land designated as a County Park can't be sold, leased, disposed, or gifted unless approved by the majority of voters in the County. This would also institute a ban on commercial uses of County Parks unless their lease is less than 10 years long. 

Charter Amendment B - Interdepartmental Transfers

Under current law, the STL County Executive can shift money between County departments as their office sees fit. Charter Amendment B would require that any of these interdepartmental transfers to be approved by the County Council (the legislative body of the County). 

Charter Amendment C - Government Transparency

This amendment would task the Department of Administration to create a website that would detail the County's debt, expenditures, pension fund balances and statements, and budget documents. 

Charter Amendment E - Smoking Ban (Thrown Out - Votes Will Not Count)

** Charter Amendment Proposition E has been thrown off the ballot by Court order. The Court deemed the amendment unconstitutional because it did not list which part of the County's Charter it intended to amend. 

Any votes made in this specific race will not be counted, but the rest of your ballot will. 

Charter Amendment F - Banning Smoking in Casinos

Casinos in St. Louis County are currently exempt from any smoking bans. This amendment would make it so that no more than 50% of the gambling floor area of any casino within the County can be authorized as smoking areas. 

Charter Amendment Z - St. Louis Zoo Funding

This amendment would institute a .00125% County-wide sales tax to provide funds for the St. Louis Zoo. The money collected will be used to fund the the North County “Safari Experience,” which would be free to St. Louis County residents (but City residents and others would pay an admission fee as they are not taxed). The governing body of the Zoo (the St. Louis Zoo Subdistrict) to have full control over how the money is spent. Here is an article that discusses this issue in detail: 

http://www.stlamerican.com/news/local_news/zoo-expanding-into-north-county-prop-z-on-november-ballot/article_adacaf1c-b5c6-11e8-bac1-93f788a1e127.html

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