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.