Key proposals Missouri and Kansas Voters will consider on Election Day

Nathan Zoschke

Missouri

Amendment Three

“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to change the current nonpartisan selection of Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges to a process that gives the governor increased authority to: appoint a majority of the commission that selects these court nominees; and appoint all lawyers to the commission by removing the requirement that the governor’s appointees be non-lawyers?”

Grants Governor the power to appoint four members to the Appellate Judicial Commission. The Governor currently only has the power to choose three of the seven  members. This will change the process by which non-elected judges are nominated in Missouri and aims to reduce the  influence of   trial lawyers  over the judiciary.  According to the Missouri Senate, if passed this measure will have no impact on taxes.

Proposition A

“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

1.Allow any city not within a county (the City of St. Louis) the option of transferring certain obligations and control of the city’s police force from the board of police commissioners currently appointed by the governor to the city and establishing a municipal police force,

2.Establish certain procedures and requirements for governing such a municipal police force including residency, rank, salary, benefits, insurance, and pension and

3.Prohibit retaliation against any employee of such municipal police force who reports conduct believed to be illegal to a superior, government agency or the press?”

Requires that the local governing body control all municipal police forces or departments. Currently boards appointed primarily by the Governor oversee the St. Louis police. St. Louis and Kansas City are among the only cities in the country that do not control their own police departments.  Proposition A would eliminate an outdated law and return control of the police department to the people of St. Louis while allowing the state governments to save up to $500,000 annually. Local government savings are estimated to be in the millions, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The St. Louis Police Officers’ Association, however, filed a lawsuit in 2011 against this proposed measure. It argued that  the proposition is unfair and misleading, and the estimated savings do not take into account any added expenses like increased legal fees.

Proposition B

Shall Missouri law be amended to:

1.Create the Health and Education Trust Fund with proceeds of a tax of $0.0365 per cigarette and 25 percent of the manufacturer’s invoice price for roll-your-own tobacco and 15 percent for other tobacco products,

2.Use Fund proceeds to reduce and prevent tobacco use and for elementary, secondary, college and university public school funding and

3.Increase the amount that certain tobacco product manufacturers must maintain in their escrow accounts, to pay judgments or settlements, before any funds in escrow can be refunded to the tobacco product manufacturer and create bonding requirements for these manufacturers?

Proposition B would create the Health and Education Trust Fund by using the revenue generated taxing cigarettes and tobacco manufacturers. The Health and Education Trust Find would be directed at K-12 schools, higher education and smoking cessation programs. The state government is estimated to receive over $283 million annually due to this tax increase.

“Raising the tobacco tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking rates and prevent our youth from ever starting,” said Misty Snodgrass, government relations director for the American Cancer Society. “It’s also a revenue win for our underfunded public schools and universities.”

Opponents to the proposition say this would hurt state tax revenue and drive local businesses to neighboring states.

“This would put small businesses in Kansas City at a disadvantage, which is horrific public policy,” said Ron Leone, who is running the opposition’s campaign for the Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association PAC.

The proposition would raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes from .17 cents, currently the lowest in the nation to .93 cents, a 429 percent increase.

The Missouri Family Network claims the increase would be about 700 percent, highest in Missouri history, and will cost all Missouri residents, not simply tobacco users.

 Proposition E

“Shall Missouri law be amended to deny individuals, families, and small businesses the ability to access affordable health care plans through a state-based health benefit exchange unless authorized by statute, initiative or referendum or through an exchange operated by the federal government as required by the federal health care act?”

The Missouri Health Care Exchange Question would prohibit the establishment, creation, or operation of a health insurance exchange unless it is created by a legislative act, ballot initiative or veto referendum.

The proposal  aims at prohibiting the establishment of a health care exchange by the Missouri Governor. In summary, this proposition limits the creation of ObamaCare without prior agreement by the citizens of the state. The Missouri State Auditor’s office states there would be no direct financial effects of the proposition.

According to the Missouri Foundation for Health, the proposition would slow exchange implementation by limiting the ability of state officials to evaluate key decisions and accomplish major tasks.

Kansas

The Kansas Boat Property Tax Amendment would allow the state’s property tax on boats to be altered. The state legislators would be allowed to classify and tax watercrafts on a basis different from other property.

According to Lt. Scott Hanzlicek with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, “We are losing more and more boats, people are registering more and more boats in other states so losing more and more revenue every year. I think everyone is usually pretty much in favor of lowering taxes. This vote doesn’t lower taxes or anything like that, it allows the legislature to change the way the taxes are collected on boats, and they may decide not to do anything, but it just gives them the power to do that.”

The Kansas City Star also endorses the amendment because a more  reasonable tax would boost Kansas’ boat building and tourism industries. Revenue would increase an estimated $1 million annually.

No formal opposition has been publicized.

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