Tough choices for Missouri voters on Nov. 7th
October 27, 2006
In addition to selecting candidates Missourians who vote in the November 7, 2006 general election will be faced with a number of decisions.

How to vote on Constitutional Amendment 2 has breached Missouri's borders and is quite a contentious debate within. In spite of the language in the bill which states that "(1) No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being" and "(2) No human blastocyst may be produced by fertilization solely for the purpose of stem cell research" opponents to the amendment are claiming that although the amendment bans "reproductive cloning," that somehow it still authorizes a technique that leads to the "cloning of human beings". Their arguments are spiked with colorful language appealing to the emotions of pro-life advocates who equate cells with babies. On the other hand, many voters support those people who want to foster embryonic stem cell research as another avenue to finding cures for diseases that kill their victims. Those voting yes on this amendment believe that if the research may one day save a life, then it should be protected from any religious opposition.

A yes vote for Constitutional Amendment 3 authorizes the State to create a Healthy Future Trust Fund that will be used only to pay for programs to prevent and reduce tobacco use and to provide healthcare to low-income Missourians and Medicaid recipients, and to cover administrative costs. These programs will be funded by imposing a tax of 4-cents per cigarette and 20 percent on all other tobacco products.

The full text of Amendment 6, that must be downloaded from here rather than linked, concerns amending the Missouri Constitution by adding "veterans' organizations" to those listed in Section 6, article X, that are exempt from taxation. This seems to be a "support our troops" sort of amendment. Those that believe that veterans' organizations should have tax exempt status on real or personal property should vote yes. Since "agricultural and horticultural societies" qualify for this exemption, a voter may think that veterans' organizations should also, but removal of this group from local real estate tax rolls may have an impact.

Constitutional Amendment 7 proposed by the 93rd General Assembly (Second Regular Session) HJR 55 alters the language in Section 3, article XIII of the Constitution of Missouri. A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to disqualify any statewide elected official, member of the General Assembly or state judge from receiving any pension from the state of Missouri if such official is convicted of a felony which occurred while in office. These officials will also be disqualified from receiving a pension if they are removed from office for misconduct or after impeachment. These restrictions shall apply after January 1, 2007. It also stipulates that a "2/3 vote" of the General Assembly be needed to override the decision of the Missouri Citizens’ Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials instead of the General Assembly's ability to change the commission’s recommended compensation schedule for themselves and other elected officials through the appropriation process.

Proposition B, is otherwise known as "Statutory Amendment to RSMo 290 – Raising Minimum Wage." The proposition specifically establishes a minimum wage in Missouri of $6.50 per hour or wages at the same rate or rates set under the provisions of federal law if they are higher. It includes language for a cost of living increase or decrease and excludes any employee or employer engaged in small farming. Money is being spent by big business to oppose this proposition which they are labeling inflationary.

Joplin issues

The City of Joplin is asking voters to approve a half-cent sales tax increase to benefit public safety in Joplin. Opposition to this increase, besides the obvious hit to one's pocketbook, is based on precedent that monies don't seem to be earmarked for what they are intended. Those in favor of the increase believe that safety is at issue and that the police and fire departments need to be beefed up.

Joplin voters living within Newton County will be voting for or against an increase in their property tax rate in order to support improvements to the operation of the Newton County Health Department. The department has been operating on the current levy of $.05 per $100 of assessed valuation since 1948. Approval of this measure would raise the levy to $.12 and among other needs provide funds for cleaning up the rivers and streams in the county that are deemed unsafe for body contact. The increase would be in keeping with the state's average county tax levy of 12.82 cents. If approved, the additional levy would generate approximately $424,000 yearly in additional revenue.

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