Know What You Are Vot­ing For When Head­ing To The Polls


Mis­souri has one of the most lib­eral pro­cesses where cit­i­zen-ini­ti­ated referendums and con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments can be placed on the bal­lot. Some peo­ple think that is a good thing but oth­ers, like me, ques­tion the wis­dom of hav­ing ev­ery­one in the state vote on things that should be the purview of the leg­is­la­ture.

It’s not be­cause I think that leg­is­la­tors are any brighter than the av­er­age cit­i­zen in know­ing what’s best for the state. We al­most al­ways have more in­for­ma­tion upon which to make de­ci­sions than you get from a pe­ti­tion-led ref­er­en­dum that is some­times a knee-jerk re­ac­tion from one spe­cific group. But, they dress up a pig and make it beau­ti­ful and peo­ple vote in fa­vor of things they nor­mally would never sup­port if they had the full in­for­ma­tion.

Two things to keep in mind as you vote on Nov. 6. 1) A con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment, if ap­proved, changes the Mis­souri Con­sti­tu­tion and can only be changed by an­other vote of the peo­ple of the state — un­less it’s over­turned by a court chal­lenge. 2) A propo­si­tion changes state statutes and can be changed at a later date by the Gen­eral Assembly.

So, here is my opin­ion on the amend­ments and propo­si­tions. Un­der­stand that these are my opin­ions only, so take them for what they are.

There are three mar­i­juana is­sues on the bal­lot — two con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments and one propo­si­tion. I think that recre­ational mar­i­juana does noth­ing to bring value to so­ci­ety but, with re­gards to medic­i­nal us­age, that is more com­pli­cated for me. I can see the value, and if I had a child with can­cer or other is­sue and mar­i­juana would help, then I would def­i­nitely be in fa­vor.

This one is prob­a­bly a very per­sonal vote for ev­ery­one de­pend­ing upon a lot of fac­tors. But, that be­ing said, I am adamantly op­posed to Con­sti­tu­tional Amend­ment 3. This amend­ment was largely funded by a Spring­field at­tor­ney and physi­cian and even names him per­son­ally in the amend­ment to lead a re­search board. We should not, un­der any cir­cum­stances, change the state con­sti­tu­tion and in­ject some­one’s name specif­i­cally into the doc­u­ment. That is just un­ac­cept­able, so my vote is no on this one for sure.

Now, let’s dis­cuss Con­sti­tu­tional Amend­ment 1 which pro­po­nents are call­ing “Clean Mis­souri.” This one has some very ac­cept­able lim­i­ta­tions on ethics but, in my opin­ion, they are us­ing those as a smoke­screen to get to what they are ac­tu­ally try­ing to ac­com­plish — chang­ing the way leg­isla­tive dis­tricts are drawn af­ter the ev­ery 10-year cen­sus.

The pro­po­nents tried to get me in the mid­dle of this be­cause I was the last leg­is­la­tor to make a real con­cen­trated ef­fort to re­form ethics in Mis­souri. And I de­clined to be in­volved in any way.

In 2009, Speaker Ron Richard ap­pointed me as chair­man of a spe­cial com­mit­tee to come up with a com­pre­hen­sive ethics bill. And, the com­mit­tee did a great job and we had a very good bill.

Un­for­tu­nately, some who were op­posed to ethics re­form sab­o­taged our ef­forts and, even though the “ethics lite” bill was passed, it was turned over by the Supreme Court. And the rea­son? Be­cause it cov­ered too many dif­fer­ent sub­jects — kind of like this amend­ment.

If this amend­ment just cov­ered ethics, I would be lead­ing the charge, but the framers want to take con­trol of the re­draw­ing of dis­tricts by plac­ing that task into the hands of a sin­gle ap­pointed state car­tog­ra­pher to de­ter­mine “fair” dis­tricts.

Now, the pro­po­nents will tell you that there are safe­guards in place to pre­vent abuse. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, there are al­ways loop­holes and un­in­tended con­se­quences. I have been told that these “fair” dis­tricts could re­ally cause prob­lems with leg­is­la­tors be­ing able to ef­fec­tively rep­re­sent their con­stituents be­cause of how they are cut up.

We al­ready have that is­sue some­times and, yes, our cur­rent sys­tem may not be very pretty; but at least it doesn’t fall into the hands of one per­son ap­pointed by some­one to tell the rest of us what is fair. I will be a big no on Con­sti­tu­tional Amend­ment 1.

Propo­si­tion B would raise the state min­i­mum wage to $12 an hour by 2023. Ev­ery­one wants to make bet­ter wages, but let this sink in. If this passes, the teenager, who re­lies on the cash regis­ter to give you the cor­rect change, is go­ing to be mak­ing $12 an hour to hand you your or­der. If they worked full time, that would be al­most $25,000 a year. No sur­prise, I’m a no on this one.

Propo­si­tion D in­creases fuel taxes. If you are ab­so­lutely against any tax of any kind, then what­ever I say will not change your mind. I want bet­ter roads and safer bridges and am will­ing to spend an ad­di­tional 10 cents a gal­lon to get it. I’m vot­ing yes.

A lot of in­for­ma­tion, and re­mem­ber that ad­vice is worth what you paid for it and my opin­ion is free. But, hope that this gives you a start­ing point to make an in­formed de­ci­sion. Know what you are vot­ing for be­fore you get to the polling place.

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