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Missouri Ballot Initiatives

Four No's and a Yes

This November 4 there are many other issues on the ballots beside who the next President is going to be. There are countless other politicians up for election (U.S. Senators, U.S. Congressman, Governors, etc.). Many states also have ballot initiatives to consder. Missouri is one of those states. Five ballot initiatives will be on your plate in two weeks. Below is a run down of those initiatives and how I urge you to vote.

Constitutional Amendment 1

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to add a statement that English shall be the language of all governmental meetings at which any public business is discussed, decided, or public policy is formulated whether conducted in person or by communication equipment including conference calls, video conferences, or Internet chat or message board?

It is estimated this proposal will have no costs or savings to state or local governmental entities.

Fair Ballot Language:

A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to add a statement that English shall be the language of all governmental meetings at which any public business is discussed, decided, or public policy is formulated. This includes meetings conducted in person or by other means of communication including conference calls, video conference, Internet chat, or Internet message board.

A “no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution to add a statement that English shall be the language of all governmental meetings at which any public business is discussed, decided, or public policy is formulated.

This proposition will have no impact on taxes.

Vote No: English only laws carry no favor with me. As many who know me will attest, I support an increase in legal immigration. Even many of our first generation immigrants struggle with the English language. I do not find a measure that would make the possibility of assimilation by these immigrants more difficult as a proper course of action. The business of the government should be in any and all languages necessary to communicate with those it intends to govern.

Constitutional Amendment 4

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to change provisions relating to the financing of stormwater control projects by: – limiting availability of grants and loans to public water and sewer districts only; – removing the cap on available funding and existing restrictions on disbursements; – requiring loan repayments to be used only for stormwater control projects?

It is estimated the cost to state governmental entities is $0 to $236,000 annually. It is estimated state governmental entities will save approximately $7,500 for each bond issuance. It is estimated local governmental entities participating in this program may experience savings, however the amount is unknown.

Fair Ballot Language:

A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to change the provisions relating to the financing of stormwater control projects. Currently, the Missouri Constitution allows the legislature to issue bonds or other types of debt so that grants and loans may be provided to municipalities and water and sewer districts in certain counties and cities for stormwater control.

This amendment will limit funding to only public water and sewer districts. It removes the current limitation on the amount of funds that can be made available for these projects and removes the restrictions on the method of disbursing these funds. It further provides that loan repayment funds shall be deposited into a specific fund to be used for stormwater control projects.

A “no” vote will not change the provisions relating to the financing of stormwater control projects.

If passed, this measure will not have an impact on taxes.

Vote Yes: Despite some really crazy ranting by some lefty in Kansas City, this amendment appears to be nothing more than an update of the existing language in the Missouri constitution as a result in a rule change by the IRS regarding the issuance of state bonds. Unless I’m not seeing a downside to stormwater control projects, these bonds have already been aproved and should therefore be allowed to continue.

Proposition A

Official Ballot Title:

Shall Missouri law be amended to: – repeal the current individual maximum loss limit for gambling; – prohibit any future loss limits; – require identification to enter the gambling area only if necessary to establish that an individual is at least 21 years old; – restrict the number of casinos to those already built or being built; – increase the casino gambling tax from 20% to 21%; – create a new specific education fund from gambling tax proceeds generated as a result of this measure called the “Schools First Elementary and Secondary Education Improvement Fund”; and – require annual audits of this new fund?

State governmental entities will receive an estimated $105.1 to $130.0 million annually for elementary and secondary education, and $5.0 to $7.0 million annually for higher education, early childhood development, veterans, and other programs. Local governmental entities receiving gambling boat tax and fee revenues will receive an estimated $18.1 to $19.0 million annually.

Fair Ballot Language:

A “yes” vote will amend Missouri law to: – repeal the current individual maximum loss limit for gambling; – prohibit any future loss limits; – require identification to enter the gambling area only if necessary to establish that an individual is at least 21 years old; – restrict the number of casinos to those already built or being built; – increase the casino gambling tax from 20% to 21%; – create a new specific education fund from gambling tax proceeds generated as a result of this measure called the “Schools First Elementary and Secondary Education Improvement Fund”; and – require annual audits of this new fund.

A “no” vote will maintain the current individual maximum loss limit of five hundred dollars for each gambling excursion. The casino gambling tax will not be increased nor will the “Schools First Elementary and Secondary Education Improvement Fund” be created. Also, the number of new casinos that may be built in Missouri will not be restricted.

If passed, this measure will increase the casino gambling tax.

Vote No: This bill is going to be yet another one in a long line of bad ideas couched behind the mantra of “for the children”. The casino lobbies, which have poured millions of dollars into the campaign for this bill, stand to gain too much in this bill. I’m comfortable with the repeal of the loss limit. If someone is going to be stupid enough to gamble away their life savings, that is their responsiblity. We shouldn’t have to force casinos by legislation to do a practice that isn’t their responsibility. (Although a case could be made for the casinos to self-impose such a policy to appear as “responsible citizens”. That is on their heads though.) The key provision in the ballot initiative is that it would restrict casino competition to those casinos already in existence. This type of anti-competitive behavior would guarantee the casinos high profits. They would not have to worry about new, better casinos coming along to steal business away from them. This type of regulated monopoly can only lead to a diminishing of the quality of the casinos in Missouri. Vote no to keep the casinos from legislating themselves an oligopoly.

Proposition B

Official Ballot Title:

Shall Missouri law be amended to enable the elderly and Missourians with disabilities to continue living independently in their homes by creating the Missouri Quality Homecare Council to ensure the availability of quality home care services under the Medicaid program by recruiting, training, and stabilizing the home care workforce?

The exact cost of this proposal to state governmental entities is unknown, but is estimated to exceed $510,560 annually. Additional costs for training are possible. Matching federal funds, if available, could reduce state costs. It is estimated there would be no costs or savings to local governmental entities.

Fair Ballot Language:

A “yes” vote will amend Missouri law to enable the elderly and Missourians with disabilities to continue living independently in their homes by creating the Missouri Quality Homecare Council. If formed, this Council will ensure the availability of quality home care services under the Medicaid program by recruiting, training, and stabilizing the home care workforce.

A “no” vote means the Missouri Quality Homecare Council will not be created.

This measure will have no impact on taxes.

Vote No: This bill is a give away to the unions. One of the hidden portions of the bill would make it easier to form a union against the will of the majority of the members:

The ballot wording would put the threshold for holding a union election at 10 percent of home health care workers, compared with the more commonly used 30 percent.

“What about the other 90 percent of the folks that are personal care attendants that maybe don’t want to be unionized?” Davis said.

For my money, anything that is endorsed and funded so heavily by the Service Employees International Union can’t be a good idea.

Proposition C

Official Ballot Title:

Shall Missouri law be amended to require investor-owned electric utilities to generate or purchase electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass and hydropower with the renewable energy sources equaling at least 2% of retail sales by 2011 increasing incrementally to at least 15% by 2021, including at least 2% from solar energy; and restricting to no more than 1% any rate increase to consumers for this renewable energy?

The estimated direct cost to state governmental entities is $395,183. It is estimated there are no direct costs or savings to local governmental entities. However, indirect costs may be incurred by state and local governmental entities if the proposal results in increased electricity retail rates.

Fair Ballot Language:

A “yes” vote will amend Missouri law to require investor-owned electric utilities to generate or purchase electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass (including ethanol) and hydropower. The required renewable energy sources must equal the following percentages of retail sales: – 2% by 2011 – 5% by 2014 – 10% by 2018 – 15% by 2021.

Of the total renewable energy sources required to be sold, at least 2% shall be solar sources. Also, any rate increase to consumers resulting from this measure must be no more than 1%.

A “no” vote will not require Missouri’s investor-owned electric utilities to generate or purchase electricity from renewable energy sources.

This measure will not have an impact on taxes.

Vote No: No. More. Freaking. Mandates. This perverse desire to mandate the use of one particular form of energy over another, much like ethanol with auto fuel, simply serves to drive up the costs for all consumers. Again I say:

No. More. Freaking. Mandates.

Let’s end all mandates and subsidies and let the people with deep pockets develop the sources of energy that people really want. The one that does so stands to make a lot of money. The National Taxpayers Union(pdf) also points out that this bill would restrict the utilities companies from raising rates to 1% per year. Price controls plus mandates spells disaster.

Thanks to Ballotpedia for the links to the text and the arguments in support and opposition of each initiative.

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