Catching Up on 2018 Mid-Term Ballot Measures in Missouri

Justin Rost | Reporter

2018 Ballot Measures

Nov. 6, 2018 is the midterm general election. In the general election, voters will be able to chose their respective candidates and decide on four ballot initiatives brought to you by your fellow Missourians, as well as three legislatively referred ballot votes – some of which are to effect us as imminently as Jan. 1,of 2019. Before an amendment ballot initiative can be voted on it must receive 160,199 verified Missourian signatures, and signing statutes into laws through propositions requires 100,126 verified Missourian votes. Due to the massive amount of money, people and power of will it takes to bring these measures to a vote, it is worth quickly familiarizing yourself with what you will be voting on before you are cramped inside a box and pressured to make life altering decisions based off of best guesses lifted from ballot language.

Amendment 1 would reduce the potential for corruption within state politics: it addresses gerrymandering, as well as politicians’ accountability and ability to accept gifts.

A preface: what is gerrymandering? The Washington Post explained it quite well: “Gerrymandering – drawing political boundaries to give your party a numeric advantage over an opposing party – is a difficult process to explain.” Gerrymandering is the reason why affluent, suburban St. Louis is one district, and inner city St. Louis is another – to minimize the historically Democratic voices in our historically Republican state.  If all of St. Louis within Missouri were one representative district with roughly equal populations leaning towards either party, elections in St. Louis would instantly become more competitive between candidates and parties; you would see more candidates striving to capture a wider audience instead of pushing a purely partisan narrative. As it stands, this is not necessary; we’ve established a district of St. Louis that will predictably elect a Republican; they will then go to Washington D.C. able to collaborate, network, and gather support from their fellow state party members. The voters living in inner city St. Louis can not expect as much, as their representative only affords them two Democratic collaborators, standing against the six Republican representatives.

Amendment 1 would task the state auditor with soliciting qualifying applications and hiring a “non-partisan state demographer,” who would see to it that maps are to be drawn fairly, and competitively with the notion in mind that either “parties shall be able to translate their popular support into legislative representation with equal efficiency.” Any legislative modifications to the map recommendations made by the non-partisan state demographer would require a 70 percent legislative approval.

This amendment proposes that candidates running for state senator may only receive $2,500 per individual within an election, and candidates for state house only $2,000 from an individual within an election. Amendment one furthermore imposes a $5 gift limit “per occurrence” from lobbyists and lobbyists’ clients towards legislators and their employees. In case anyone would try to circumvent the rules under the new amendment, it has been made a crime to attempt to “conceal the identity of the actual source of contribution.” Furthermore, both state legislators and their employees would be barred from working as a lobbyists for two years following their last session in office.

Amendment 1 would make it illegal to campaign on state property, and would also require that all digital and physical papers and documentation worked on in our legislature be made available to the public through the Sunshine Law. The legislative meetings themselves would also be made public.

The Cannabis Clauses:

With the opiate crisis at all time high, medical marijuana has been a popular topic over recent years. In the United States there are now 31 states and Washington DC where people can legally access medicinal marijuana – Nov. 6 we will get the chances to decide for ourselves. There are three amendments proposed which would all allow access to medical marijuana.

Amendment 2 would legalize medical marijuana for those with qualifying conditions, have the Department of Health and Senior Services regulate medicinal marijuana, and allow a 4 percent sales tax on medicinal marijuana. This is the only medical marijuana initiative that allows patients to grow in their own home. The four percent taxes from this amendment would go solely to various veteran assistance programs in our state.

Proposition C would legalize medical marijuana for those with qualifying conditions and give authority of regulating the medicinal marijuana industry to the Missouri Department of Public Safety Division of Alcohol and Tobacco. This initiative would carry a 2 percent tax that goes towards veterans, education, addiction rehabilitation services, and public safety.

Amendment 3 is a medical marijuana ballot initiate that will not actually be explored or discussed in this article, besides that it has by far the highest taxes of any of the medical marijuana initiatives with a 15 percent sales tax and wholesale cultivation taxes imposed as well; however, this was not the deciding factor that resulted in this amendment being left out. I originally had written about this amendment, but I was incomplete in understanding, and the more digging done the more complex and insane this amendment became. Having spent hours pouring over all information online surrounding amendment three, reading the text of amendment three, reading interviews with the sole-proponent of amendment three, and seeing where the funding for this measure came from, I have concluded that this amendment is simply not  worth exploring, unless for a case examining the expanding interconnectedness between being a capitalist and politician in 2018.

If you care to see medical marijuana in Missouri next year then vote Amendment 2 or Proposition C (or both), both initiatives are very decent, far better options than Amendment 3. We do not need more inflated drug prices, nor should the taxes associated with this medicine with wide reaching potential become a means for Brad Bradshaw – the man who funded 99 percent of the ballot initiative’s $1.7M spending – to distribute a total collective salaries of over $1.5M yearly to nine of those he grants favor as they make more than three times the median Missouri income, which is reported as $51,746 in 2016 by the Department of Numbers (salaries are established in the amendment three ballot language as being “equal to or more than the Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice” – equal to or more than $179,883 per year).  

This is the end of the cannabis clauses. Note: if more than one medical marijuana amendment passes than the amendment which received the most votes will be adopted, and the other(s) discarded.

Amendment 4 pertains specifically to bingo. It would remove wording from state law which prohibits “bingo game advertising,” as a court has ruled the law unenforceable since its writing, anyway. Also effected would be the rules on who can manage/run a bingo game. Apparently the law currently requires people to be a member of an appropriately licensed organization for two years before managing a bingo game; this amendment would allow people to manage a bingo game after being a member for only six months.

Proposition B would increase minimum wage to $8.60 per hour beginning Jan. 1, then raise minimum wage by $0.85 a year until 2023, where minimum wage would cap at $12 an hour. This measure would also increase the penalty levied upon those who are found to pay employees less than minimum wage.

Specific breakup of how minimum hourly wage would scale through the next five years: 2018 (today): $7.85; 2019: $8.60; 2020: $9.45; 2021: $10.30; 2022: $11.15; 2023: $12.

Proposition D is primarily a change to the fuel tax in Missouri with the purpose of funding law enforcement as well as providing revenue for road repair. Currently Missouri’s fuel tax is $0.17 a gallon (this tax is applied in the price of gas), this proposition would the fuel tax by $0.025 (two and a half cents) per year until 2022 whence the fuel tax would cap at $0.27 per gallon[specific breakup below].

This proposition would also eliminate taxes from Special Olympics, Paralympics, and Olympic prizes.

Specific breakup of how fuel tax would adjust yearly following the passage of Proposition D: current fuel tax rate is $0.17 per gallon; 2019 fuel tax rate would be $0.195 (19 and a half cents) per gallon; 2020 fuel tax rate would be $0.22 per gallon; 2021 tax rate would be $0.245 (24 and a half cents) per gallon; 2022 tax rate would be $0.27 per gallon.

For those looking for more information I strongly recommend you check out Ballotpedia – the non-partisan, election and policy encyclopedia. It is a wonderful resource that aims to be widely understandable and accessible, and was used many times gaining a preliminary understanding of the ballot votes. Full texts regarding ballot choices can be found on either Ballotpedia or the Missouri Secretary of State’s website. Thank you for taking the time to read and I hope to see you at the polls on Nov. 6.  

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