An Analysis of some 2016 Missouri Ballot Questions

An Analysis of some 2016 Missouri ballot questions is the subject of this Big B File.

There are a number of ballot questions…. including Proposed amendments to the Missouri state constitution on the ballot in the November 8th 2016 elections. Here is the Big B Files’ analysis of the statewide ballot questions and a St. Louis County ballot question.

First, I will tackle the statewide Constitution amendments proposed on the ballot in the November 8th 2016 elections one by one. Most deal with taxes…either raising, continuing, or establishing new taxes, while one deals with forms of ID presented at the polls when you vote.

PROPOSED MO CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS MEASURES

Now, Let’s take a look at the proposed Missouri constitutional amendment number 1…

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO.1
Proposed by Article IV, Section 47(c)
Missouri Constitution
(SJR 1, 2005)

Shall Missouri continue for 10 years the one-tenth of one percent sales/use tax that is used for soil and water conservation and for state parks and historic sites, and resubmit this tax to the voters for approval in 10 years?

The measure continues and does not increase the existing sales and use tax of one-tenth of one percent for 10 years. The measure would continue to generate approximately $90 million annually for soil and water conservation and operation of the state park system.

This amendment was first adopted by Missouri voters in 2005 and comes up for a vote every 10 years. No new taxes are being imposed by this proposed amendment…it is just simply asking voters whether they want the tax to continue for another 10 years or get rid of it altogether. The Big B Files has no opinion in regards to which way to vote on this constitutional amendment, but my guess is that this will probably be renewed by the voters of Missouri as it is not a new tax, but continuing an existing one.

Now, Let’s take a look at the proposed Missouri constitutional amendment number 2…

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 2
Proposed by Initiative Petition

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

  • establish limits on campaign contributions by individuals or entities to political parties,
  • political committees, or committees to elect candidates for state or judicial office,
  • prohibit individuals and entities from intentionally concealing the source of such
  • contributions,
  • require corporations or labor organizations to meet certain requirements in order to make
  • such contributions, and
  • provide a complaint process and penalties for any violations of this amendment?

It is estimated this proposal will increase state government costs by at least $118,000 annually and have an unknown change in costs for local governmental entities. Any potential impact to revenues for state and local governmental entities is unknown.

This proposed constitutional amendment is nothing more than enshrining into the Missouri constitution Campaign finance Reform along the lines of McCain / Feingold law, as the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act is known, that even the Washington Post….very much a Liberal publication and part of the Ancient Media…said that it was bad law and had very bad, if not devastating, on the elections process.

People and groups on the right and on the left went and formed Super PACs (Political Action Committees) under Section 501(c)(4) of the federal tax code to bypass the regulations of McCain / Feingold.  Hey Campaign Finance folks and Liberals…how has that worked out so far?

The best check and balance is not limiting campaign contributions, but full disclosure of campaign contributions under FOIA, and Missouri’s Sunshine law that are designed to make the entire election process completely transparent and then, of course, there is US…the voters of Missouri!

The Big B Files recommends that Missouri voters reject and vote no on Proposed Missouri Constitutional Amendment 2 because everywhere at the federal, state, and local levels that this has been tried…. the exact opposite effect has resulted. Again, Hey Campaign Finance folks and Liberals…how has that worked out so far?

Now, Let’s take a look at the proposed Missouri constitutional amendment number 3…

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 3
Proposed by Initiative Petition

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

  • increase taxes on cigarettes each year through 2020, at which point this additional tax
  • will total 60 cents per pack of 20,
  • create a fee paid by cigarette wholesalers of 67 cents per pack of 20 on certain cigarettes,
  • which fee shall increase annually, and
  • deposit funds generated by these taxes and fees into a newly established Early Childhood
  • Health and Education Trust Fund?

When cigarette tax increases are fully implemented, estimated additional revenue to state government is $263 million to $374 million annually, with limited estimated implementation costs. The revenue will fund only programs and services allowed by the proposal. The fiscal impact to local governmental entities is unknown.

Ahh…haven’t we heard this pitch before?  That’s right…those who want to raise taxes (they are usually on the left) usually use this tactic to get the taxpayers to pay for their favorite programs, etc. by increasing the “sin” taxes i.e. taxes on tobacco products & alcoholic beverages (wine, beer, whiskey, etc.) with promises such as the new taxes will fund only certain programs and services and not go into the general fund and be in a “lock box” of sorts. Like I said before… haven’t we heard this pitch before?

I remember this same pitch made numerous times back in Illinois (where I grew up) that previous tax increases on these “sin” products would go to anti-smoking programs (or other health programs).  In the end, it would usually be either diverted or the Politicians would take out of a.k.a. “borrow” from the fund and put the money into the general fund to pay for things and programs that had absolutely nothing to do with health…never to return those taxpayer funds to the “locked” fund.

The Big B Files recommends that the Missouri voters say no to this amendment because if they tax the sin taxes, what is to stop them from asking for other taxes to go up on us as well…. the taxpayers of Missouri have had enough with tax increases and feel like we have been taxed to death.

Now, Let’s take a look at the proposed Missouri constitutional amendment number 4…

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 4
Proposed by Initiative Petition

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to prohibit a new state or local sales/use or other similar tax on any service or transaction that was not subject to a sales/use or similar tax as of January 1, 2015?

Potential costs to state and local governmental entities are unknown, but could be significant. The proposals passage would impact a governmental entity’s ability to revise their tax structures. State and local governments expect no savings from this proposal.

This is another common sense ballot measure that exempts exercise facilities such as yoga studios that the state of Missouri has in the past as “Entertainment” facilities and subject to a tax.  As ABC 30 KDNL in St. Louis explains……

ST LOUIS — It seems the politicians can figure out a way to tax anything they can to take more of your money. The latest story of that comes from a couple of “Hot Yoga” instructors. Carol Stocks and Erin Stack have run a yoga studio in Richmond Heights (Pure Hot Yoga, yogastlouis.com) for the past decade, and have been paying a tax they think was unlawfully applied to them.

Apparently, the State of Missouri has been taxing some gyms and workout facilities, but not others. Pure Hot Yoga was designated as “entertainment” rather than exercise by the state, so the business has been paying an extra entertainment tax. This makes it tougher for it to compete with other workout options that are not getting taxed.

As many who have done Hot, Bikram Yoga can tell you how much of a workout it really is. Sports Agent Lou Tevlin says he’s seen professional athletes take the course and pass out.

In fact, Erin and Carol say that one of their former students who opened their own place successfully sued to have the tax money returned. So while they are preparing to file a similar lawsuit, they are also pursuing legislation in the Missouri Legislature to make changes to the tax code.

– Taxing Yoga: Studio Working To Get Tax Money Back, Change Missouri Tax Laws
– BY THE ALLMAN REPORT (ABC30 St. Louis) • MAY 5TH, 2016

You can watch the interview of the Yoga studio owner by clicking here.  The Big B Files recommends that the voters of Missouri vote in favor of the proposed Missouri state constitutional amendment number 4 on November 8th.   Now, Let’s take a look at the proposed Missouri constitutional amendment number 6…

STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 6
Proposed by the 98th General Assembly

(Second Regular Session)
SS HJR 53

Shall the Constitution of Missouri be amended to state that voters may be required by law, which may be subject to exception, to verify one’s identity, citizenship, and residence by presenting identification that may include valid government-issued photo identification?

The proposed amendment will result in no costs or savings because any potential costs would be due to the enactment of a general law allowed by this proposal. If such a general law is enacted, the potential costs to state and local governments is unknown, but could exceed $2.1 million annually.

This is a totally common sense ballot measure, considering you have no choice but to produce a government issued Photo ID to do the following, among others:

1.     Alcohol

2.     Cigarettes

3.     Opening a bank account

4.     Apply for food stamps

5.     Apply for welfare

6.     Apply for Medicaid/Social Security

7.     Apply for unemployment or a job

8.     Rent/buy a house, apply for a mortgage

9.     Drive, buy, and/or rent a car

10.  Get on an airplane

11.  Get married

12.  Purchase a gun

13.  Adopt a pet

14.  Rent a hotel room

15.  Apply for a hunting license

16.  Apply for a fishing license

17.  Buy a cell phone

18.  Visit a casino

19.  Pick up a prescription

20.  Hold a rally or protest

21.  Blood donations

22.  Buy an “M” rated video game

23.  Purchase nail polish at CVS

24.  Purchase certain cold medicines

25.  Cash a Check

26.  To enter any Federal Building

27.  Apply for any Credit or Debit Card

I have worked the polls in St. Louis County since the November 2006 Midterm elections (with a few exceptions).  Every single election that I have worked the polls in various capacities, I have observed that the vast majority of people coming to the polling place to cast their vote have produced as their preferred form of ID (by around an 80 – 20 margin) …. wait for it…a state issued driver’s license or Photo ID card!   According to the Washington Examiner:

“Voter ID laws continue to get a lot of attention, and proponents of the law are being drowned out by opponents claiming the laws discriminate against certain voters.

Rather than getting IDs to the people who are supposedly disenfranchised, opponents spend their efforts trying to end the laws, even though polls consistently show overwhelming majorities of voters approve of the laws.”

– 24 things that require a photo ID
– By ASHE SCHOW (Washington Examiner) • 8/14/13 12:00 AM

If proposed Missouri constitutional amendment 6 is approved by Missouri voters, then the accompanying legislation (House Bill 1631) (Click here for PDF version of the bill) that was passed by the General goes into effect, which was passed in an override of Governor Jay Nixon’s veto on September 14, 2016. The Big B Files recommends that the voters of Missouri vote in favor of the proposed Missouri state constitutional amendment number 6 on November 8th.

After all…if you have to produce a government issued photo ID for all the things listed above and more, then why should someone have to prove who they are by producing a government issued photo ID when they go to a polling place to vote?

Now, Let’s take a look at the proposed Missouri and local statutory measures on the ballot in November…

STATUTORY MEASURES

Now, Let’s take a look at the proposed Missouri Proposition A on the ballot in November…

PROPOSITION A
Proposed by Initiative Petition

Shall Missouri law be amended to:

  • increase taxes on cigarettes in 2017, 2019, and 2021, at which point this additional tax will
  • total 23 cents per pack of 20,
  • increase the tax paid by sellers on other tobacco products by 5 percent of manufacturers invoice price,
  • use funds generated by these taxes exclusively to fund transportation infrastructure projects, and
  • repeal these taxes if a measure to increase any tax or fee on cigarettes or other tobacco products is certified to appear on any local or statewide ballot?

State government revenue will increase by approximately $95 million to $103 million annually when cigarette and tobacco tax increases are fully implemented, with the new revenue earmarked for transportation infrastructure. Local government revenues could decrease approximately $3 million annually due to decreased cigarette and tobacco sales.

The exact same reasoning I stated before in regards to why you should vote against proposed Missouri constitutional amendment number 3 also applies to the proposed Missouri Proposition A as well. Also, it is worth noting that they tried to say that they cannot find the money to fix the roads and other transportation infrastructure, and yet, they were able to out of thin air find millions of dollars for a new stadium for the now Los Angeles Rams to try to get them to stay in St. louis (and we all know how that turned out and what Stan Kroenke really thinks about St. Louis)…..just ask Elliot Davis of Fox 2 in St. Louis.  By the way…Remember proposed Missouri constitutional amendment 7 from two years ago (2014)?

Now, Let’s take a look at the proposed local ballot measure Proposition S that is on the ballot in St. Louis County in November…

St. LOUIS COUNTY – PROPOSITION S

Shall St. Louis County levy a tax of five cents per each one hundred dollars ($100.00) of assessed valuation for the purpose of providing services to persons sixty years of age or older?

The Big B Files recommends that the Voters say no to this proposition as the tax increase is not needed. I believe that St. Louis County can find the funds somewhere in the Budget by eliminating wasteful spending and eliminating obsolete and unneeded programs. After all, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is a lawyer and a certified CPA and he also campaigned on bringing the county government in line and eliminating wasteful spending in county government when he was elected two years ago.

……And that’s the Big B Files.  Click on the comments link below and tell me what you think……I’m Bryan V. Hewing.

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