Editorial

Editorial: Our take on August ballot issues

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Several amendments appear on the August primary ballot. Here's our take on the issues.

Amendment 1: "Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure that the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed? The potential costs or savings to governmental entities are unknown, but likely limited unless the resolution leads to increased litigation costs and/or the loss of federal funding. State and local governmental entities should have no direct costs or savings from this proposal. However, the proposal's passage will likely lead to increased litigation and criminal justice related costs. The total potential costs are unknown, but could be significant."

This was placed on the ballot via Missouri House Joint Resolution 11. The vote in the House of Representatives was 132 to 25 and in the Senate 27 to 7.

Like a few other amendments on the ballot, we believe this is a more symbolic than substance. Even Missouri's governor, who opposes the measure, believes this will not have much effect.

That said, farming is important to our state's economy, including here in Southeast Missouri. Within reason, farmers should be able to farm their land how they see fit. It's an individual liberty issue. Sure, there are regulations in place, and the Missouri Farm Bureau says this will not prevent laws currently on the books from applying. Similarly, it's not a blanket protection from the Environmental Protection Agency.

We encourage a "yes" vote on Amendment 1.

Amendment 5: "Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to include a declaration that the right to keep and bear arms is a unalienable right and that the state government is obligated to uphold that right? State and local governmental entities should have no direct costs or savings from this proposal. However, the proposal's passage will likely lead to increased litigation and criminal justice related costs. The total potential costs are unknown, but could be significant."

The amendment was supported in the General Assembly in Senate Joint Resolution 36. The House vote was 122 to 31, and the Senate vote was 23 to 8.

Amendment 5 might sound familiar to you. It should. It's effectively our Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. Again, this seems unnecessary. Should Congress and the president pass gun control laws, we believe Amendment 5 will have little value.

We believe this is more symbolism, but, in principle, support a "yes" vote on Amendment 5.

Amendment 7: "Should the Missouri Constitution be changed to enact a temporary sales tax of three-quarters of one percent to be used solely to fund state and local highways, roads, bridges and transportation projects for ten years, with priority given to repairing unsafe roads and bridges? This change is expected to produce $480 million annually to the state's Transportation Safety and Job Creation Fund and $54 million for local governments. Increases in the gas tax will be prohibited. This revenue shall only be used for transportation purposes and cannot be diverted for other uses."

This was put on the ballot through House Joint Resolution 68. The Senate vote was 22 to 10, and the House vote was 105 to 43.

Do Missouri roads need help? Yes. Is an increase in the state sales tax the best way to fund roads? No.

Though we generally believe in low taxes, we have endorsed various tax increase measures in the past. This depends on the type of tax, how much it is, and if there is a track record for success. However, a statewide sales tax is not the best solution to solve transporation infrastructure improvements.

We encourage a "no" vote on Amendment 7.

Amendment 8: "Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to create a 'Veterans Lottery Ticket' and to use the revenue from the sale of these tickets for projects and services related to veterans? The annual cost or savings to state and local governmental entities is unknown, but likely minimal. If sales of a veterans lottery ticket game decrease existing lottery ticket sales, the profits of which fund education, there could be a small annual shift in funding from education to veterans' programs."

The General Assembly voted to place this issue before the voters through House Joint Resolution 48. The House vote was 132 to 10 and the Senate split was 27 to 4.

The Missouri Lottery is not the most effective way to support veterans issues. You may see some of the commercials encouraging people to pay it forward and support education through the Missouri Lottery. This is ludicrous. If someone wants to support education, there are plenty of groups to which to send donations.

An Associated Press story this week said Gov. Nixon ordered a review of the Missouri Lottery. The 2014 budget year included $1.16 billion in sales to the lottery. Only $267 million made it to education.

Why would we expect a veterans lottery ticket to provide funds to our nation's heroes? If you want to support our military, donate to the many good charities that make the difference -- not the lottery.

We encourage a "no" vote for Amendment 8.

Amendment 9: "Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects? State and local governmental entities expect no significant costs or savings."

This amendment was put on the ballot through Senate Joint Resolution 27. The Senate vote was 31 to 1 and the House was 114 to 28.

Amendment 9 appears to help strengthen electronic communications. This information should be made secure, though we're skeptical the measure will do much.

On Amendment 9, we support a "yes" vote.

Proposition K (Cape Girardeau County): "Shall Cape Girardeau County, solely for the purpose of establishing a community children's services fund (authorized under RSMo 67.1775) for the purpose of providing services to protect the well-being and safety of children and youth nineteen years of age or less and to strengthen families, be authorized to levy a sales tax of one-quarter of a cent in the County of Cape Girardeau?"

Plenty of charities locally do great work for young people. If you want to support them, volunteer or make a donation.

We encourage a "no" vote on Proposition K.