On the Ballot

November 2016 Missouri Ballot Proposals

On November 8th voters will find a number of state constitutional amendments and a proposal on their ballot.  All deserve more consideration than the ballot language provides.

Amendment 1 Soil & Water Sales Tax

For decades Missourians have paid a 1/10th of 1¢ per dollar sales tax to finance soil conservation, state parks and historic sites, water quality and conservation efforts. The measure must be re-approved every ten years.

Proponents point to great success at reducing soil loss and an increase in park land since the tax became law.

Opponents decry a system which ‘takes out of private hands’ – and off the local tax rolls – rural land.

The measure is expected to pass by a large margin.

Amendment 2 Campaign Contribution Limits

A group of Republicans and Democrats pushed through this initiative petition to limit contributions to candidates:

Contributions to all state office candidates would be limited to $2,600 per individual.
Contributions by political party would be limited to $25,000 per candidate.
Labor organizations and corporations would be subject to strict contribution limits.
Candidates could still give as much as they want to their own campaigns.

Republican stalwart Fred Sauer has been a leader in this effort.

Proponents say this approach will level the playing field and help return campaigns to contests of issues instead of fundraising wars. While admitting that the proposed amendment does not block-off all ways to funnel large amounts of money to campaigns, they call this a very good first step.

Opponents cite the Citizens United decision and claim this amendment is in direct conflict with the decision. They also note a lack of wide spread public concern about election financing. There has been considerable talk of court action against the amendment should it pass.

Opponents have been collecting money to take a run at the proposal in the weeks before the election.

The measure may get support from a majority of voters.

Amendment 3 Tobacco Tax #1

This measure would raise the tax on cigarettes by 60¢ per pack over the course of a couple of years: Missouri would still tax cigarettes significantly less than the average state. The measure would also collect funds from smaller tobacco companies which do not contribute to the global tobacco settlement. Money would be used for early childhood education programs.

Proponents, led by Raise Your Hands For Kids, say this is a relatively painless way for Missouri to generate more funds for pre-kindergarten education and make tobacco use less attractive. The American Cancer Society and American Heart Association are among the proponents.

Opponents point out that the petition effort was largely funded by Phillip Morris and other big tobacco companies: they point to the collecting fees from the non-settlement tobacco companies as proof of the true motive for the amendment. Many education groups have come out against the proposal because the collected money could be distributed to church-led organizations and other groups not connected to the public schools. (School district funded programs are expected to get the bulk of any collected funds.)
Extreme advertising on this issue in the weeks prior to the election is expected. The measure could pass but, historically, Missourians have opposed higher cigarette taxes.

Amendment 4 No Taxing Of Services

Proposals to replace Missouri’s income tax with a higher state sales tax often included broadening the items subject to the sales tax: services such as day care, haircuts, dry cleaning and real estate fees would have been subject to sales tax. This amendment prohibits state and local authorities from adding any service or category of transaction to the taxable base. The measure uses January 1, 2015 as its starting point.

Proponents, led by real estate agents and trade associations, note that Missouri has talked about expanding what is taxable and several other states, including North Carolina and Washington state, have begun taxing services.

Opponents have not organized to counter this amendment.

As with most anti-tax measures, this is expected to pass.

Amendment 6 Photo I.D. For Voters

Submitted by the legislature, this amendment – combined with separate enabling legislation [HB 1631] – would require most every voter to present an acceptable government-issued photo I.D. before they could vote. (Please note that none of the proposed state identification cards meet the federal Real I.D. Act standards.)

Proponents say this measure is required to combat rampant, blatant voter fraud.

Opponents say, “What fraud?” and that voter impersonation has never been an issue. They claim the measure is an unconstitutional attempt to keep better than 200,000 voters, most in Democrat constituencies, from the polls. They note that similar measures have been slapped down during federal court review.

The measure is expected to pass, perhaps with a two to one majority.

Proposal A Cigarette Tax #2

Promoted by the convenience store industry, this measure would increase the tax on cigarettes by 23¢ a pack with the money earmarked for transportation projects. Supporters of this measure claim its passage would negate a majority vote on Amendment 3. Also, this measure would “repeal these taxes if a measure to increase any tax or fee on cigarettes or any other tobacco products is certified to appear on any local or statewide ballot…” [www.sos.mo.gov/petitions]

Proponents say Missouri roads need the $95 million a year this proposal would generate.

Opponents call this a cynical attempt to undermine Amendment 3.

A fierce battle of commercials is expected in the weeks leading up to the election between Amendment 3 and Proposal A supporters.  Again, Missourians are not prone to endorse higher cigarette taxes.

For more information please visit the Missouri Secretary of state’s website.

Ballot Issues Information and insights provided by Glenn Koenen.

For a complete view of a sample ballot in your area, please check Ballotpedia.