Missouri Ballot Issues

Redistricting, Marijuana, Minimum Wage, Bingo, Motor Fuel

Screen Shot 2018-10-24 at 5.23.28 PM Update Prop A: Right to Work: In 2017, the Missouri legislature passed Senate Bill 19 (Right-to-Work), which was then signed, into law by the governor. The law was intended to prohibit as a condition of employment the forced membership in a labor organization (union) or forced payments of dues. Before the law could take effect, the opponents of worker choice gathered thousands of signatures in order to put the new law up for popular vote in the 2018 election cycle. On August 7,2018, union labor and union money that poured into the state to oppose the law were able to flex their muscle and overturn Missouri’s decision to join the ranks of Right-to-Work states across the nation. The new law would have protected Missouri workers and their families from being forced or coerced to join a labor union as a condition of employment. The “no” vote in August means that Senate Bill 19 will not become law, and Missouri remains a forced union state. The extent to which preventing worker freedom by labor unions will harm Missouri workers and impact the State’s economy is yet to be seen.

Amendment 1: Redistricting, Ethics

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to allow a change in redistricting, campaign contributions, and rules on lobbying? Voting “yes” means the state constitution will change the process and criteria for redrawing state legislative district boundaries (redistricting). Currently, the boundaries are drawn by house and senate commissions, which are adopted if 70% of the commissioners approve the maps. The amendment would have a state demographer chosen by the state auditor to redraw the countries for a vote of the house and senate commissions. The amendment also reduces the limits on campaign contributions that candidates for state senator or state representatives can accept from individuals per election. A five-dollar limit on gifts to state legislators from paid lobbyists would also be imposed. Lastly, the amendment prohibits state legislators from serving as paid lobbyists for two years after their last legislative session. A “no” vote would not make any of these amendments to the state constitution.

PRO: Proponents of Amendment 1 see this as an opportunity to increase fairness, integrity, and transparency in government by limiting the power of special interests and big money donors. Supporters of Amendment 1 include former U.S. Senator John Danforth, Missouri Senator Rob Schaaf, former Senator Jim Lembke, the Missouri Conference of the NAACP, and the League of Women Voters of Missouri.1

CON: Opponents agree that change is needed, but that this initiative is the wrong way to go about it and alleges that the effort is meant to deceive voters by compiling multiple subjects to hide the actual purpose which would “change our non-partisan redistricting process in favor of one that requires gerrymandering and dividing communities of interest.”2 Opponents also maintain that Amendment 1 is not about ethics or good government, but is rather a Trojan horse for gerrymandering.3 The reality of Amendment 1 is that just one elected statewide official – the Auditor – would have immense power over all elections for ten years as opposed to a group of Republicans and Democrats having to agree on the boundaries. Opponents include former U.S. Senator Jim Talent, Senate Pro Tem Ron Richard, Missouri Senators Bob Onder, Dean Plocher, and others.4

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Amendment 2: Medical Marijuana
Amends Missouri Constitution with a “yes” vote to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes; imposes a 4% tax on retail sale of marijuana; and uses the funds from these taxes for health and care services for military veterans. Estimated annual tax revenue of$24 million with operating costs of $7 million. A “no” vote will not amend the constitution as to the use of marijuana. Of the three medical marijuana measures on the ballot in November, this is the only one that allows patients to grow their own marijuana supply.5 See Commentary on medical marijuana below.

Amendment 3: Medical Marijuana
Amends the Missouri Constitution to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes; imposes a 15% tax on the retail sale of marijuana; and uses funds from taxes to establish a state research institute with the purpose of developing cures for cancer. Estimated annual tax generated of $66 million. Known informally as the “Brad Bradshaw” Amendment for Springfield attorney and physician who largely self-funded the amendment, it would create a research board, initially led by Bradshaw himself, to set fees, limit the amount of marijuana bought and sold, and determine how many growing operations would be allowed.6 See Commentary on medical marijuana below.

Proposition B: State Minimum Wage
This law would amend Missouri law increase Missouri’s minimum by eighty-five cents every year on January 1 until the year 2023 when the minimum wage reaches $12.00 per hour; exempt government employers from the above increase; and increase the penalty for paying employees less than the minimum wage.

PRO: Proponents of the increased burden on small business owners contend that raising the minimum wage levels the playing field for businesses; lessons the burden on the state which subsidies low income earners through taxation; and helps the economy through new consumer spending.7

CON: Opponents however dispute these claims as wishful thinking and argue that minimum wage laws inevitably end up hurting minorities, women, and those they are intended to help. They maintain that an increase in labor costs will result in a decrease in the number of laborers being hired; eliminates low skilled workers from the labor market (including teenagers and at risk youth); and increases the number of workers on welfare and unemployment.8

Proposition D: Medical Marijuana

Unlike the other two medical marijuana issues on the ballot, which are amendments to the Missouri Constitution, this issue aimed at amending Missouri law.

The new law would remove state prohibitions on personal use and possession of medical cannabis (marijuana) with a written certification by a physician; remove state prohibitions on growth, possession, production, and sale of medial marijuana; impose a 2% tax on the retail sale of medical marijuana; and use the funds from the tax for veteran’s services, drug treatment, early childhood education and public safety. A “no” vote would not amend the Missouri law as to the use of marijuana.

Normalizing, Medicalizing, and Legalizing Marijuana: FRONT LINE has watched the growing push to normalize and legalize the use of marijuana for social and medical purposes across the country and this state for years. What those who push for the free and easy use of this drug often fail to tell their audience is the costs and dangers associated with making this still federally illicit drug9 legal and easily accessible.

Again this year, the proponents of marijuana legalization have been hard at work. is is clearly seen in the push here in the Show-Me State to put three referendums on the November ballot in 2018. The ballot measures propose to create new law in Missouri and to amend the state constitution legalizing marijuana. These measures are intended to make an end run on the state legislature, which has repeatedly refused to bend to the pressures of those who stand to make incredible financial gains on legalized marijuana. As noted in the spring edition of FRONT LINE, there are ballot initiatives by pro-legalization organizations including: Missourians for Patient Care Ballot Committee, Find the Cures Constitutional Mandate, and New Approach Missouri Constitutional Mandate,10 which are cutting out the discussion and debate that surrounds legislation considered in the House and Senate by appealing to the emotions and sentiments of the people who elected those representatives.

Despite popular culture’s appeal that this drug is “harmless” and “everyone does it,” marijuana is a dangerous drug and getting more powerful with improved methods of growth and production. “Marijuana potency has increased in the past decades, up from about 4% in the 1980s to an average of 15% today. Marijuana extracts, used in dabbing and edibles, can contain an average of 50% and up to 90% THC. The main psychoactive, or mood altering, ingredient in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). The level of THC in marijuana varies and determines the multitude of elects on the body and the brain.”11 “While not everyone who uses marijuana will become addicted to it, between 45-55% of those being treated in rehab for marijuana addiction are under the age of twenty-four.12 Detoxication, restoration, and life skills improvement in rehab can take up to ten weeks on average.14 A report commissioned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, released in mid January, warns against the dangers of pot use, especially in adolescence. The report cites evidence that heavy pot use, prolonged length of exposure and age at the beginning of exposure may all be risk factors in triggering a first episode of psychosis. Where mental illness — especially schizophrenia — already exists, the report concludes, heavy and prolonged pot use may make symptoms worse.”14

Legalization implies approval. Approval brings exposure, access, and opportunity. Currently between 30 and 40% of high school seniors have used marijuana in the past year.15  Frequent users have reduced brain activity, are 60% less likely to graduate from high school, are at increased risk for heroin addiction and alcoholism, and are seven times more likely to attempt suicide.16 Ultimately, what Missouri voters will be asked to decide in November is if Missouri should go down the path being forged by states such as California, Florida and Colorado when it comes to drug policy and the use of marijuana as a form of treatment. As always, it is the responsibility of the informed citizen to know the issues and impacts of laws on their freedom and how they impact society both now and considering long-term effects. Should we legalize marijuana? That’s the wrong question. How will such legalization affect our youth, our communities, and our culture as more Americans re up this “harmless” drug?

PRO: Proponents of medical marijuana argue that the benefits for those suffering AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, and other diseases far outweigh the risks.17 Additionally, as a “natural product,” cannabis is assumed to be safer than pharmaceuticals, which can carry harmful side effects.18 Finally, those who advocate for medical marijuana say it has societal benefits such as allowing the government to regulate its growth, sale, and taxation. This they say is preferable to forcing users to face the dangers of funding their marijuana on the streets.19

CON: Those against the legalization argue it is disingenuous to equate two different substances such as marijuana and alcohol because of the many known harmful risks of using cannabis even in moderation that are not comparable to the moderate use of alcohol. Risks such as impaired memory loss, inhibited learning ability, and potential addiction. They also note the negative physical elects from toxins such as ammonia and hydrogen cyanide and damage to the lungs not unlike that caused by smoking cigarettes.20 Incidents of children obtaining marijuana in cookie form and almost dying have been increasing. Opponents also point to the negative social effects like drug-related crime that accompanies legalization and the damage to social norms when the stigma of drug usage is removed from societal expectations.21

Amendment 4:
Bingo Game Advertising
Amendment to the Missouri Constitution would remove language limiting bingo game advertising that a court ruled unenforceable; and allow a member a licensed organization conducting bingo games to participate in the management of bingo games after being a member of the organization for six months.

A “no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution regarding bingo games. Bingo games became legal in Missouri in 1980. Voters of this state rejected changes to the bingo law in 1990 and 2000.22

PRO: Proponents of this Amendment want to remove what they see as unnecessary regulations on bingo games and ease the burden on charitable organizations using these games to raise funds.

CON: Opponents of this Amendment may have moral objections to gaming or gambling in any form and oppose the easing of restrictions on bingo games.

Proposition D: Motor Fuel Tax Increase

This proposition comes to the ballot by way of a referendum clause in SS#2 HB 1460. 23

This law would amend Missouri law to increase the motor fuel tax from seventeen cents per gallon to twenty-seven cents per gallon over the next four years. The rate will be annually increased by two and one half cents each year on July 1. The amendment will also allow a state income tax deduction for the value of any prize or award won in the Olympics, Paralympics, or Special Olympics; and also create an “Emergency State Freight Bottleneck Fund,” dedicated to financing road improvement projects in the state. A “no” vote will not amend the Missouri statutes. The fuel tax in Missouri has not been raised since 1996 when a seventeen-cent tax was added.

PRO: Proponents of the law see the financial benefits of a projected $288 million annual amount for state roads and Missouri State Law Enforcement plus $123 million annually to local governments for and construction and maintenance.24

CON: Opponents generally do not favor this or any increase to state taxes and prefer keeping costs of living down within the state.25

1 https://themissouritimes.com/52669/missourians- rst- forms-to-oppose-clean-missouri-ballot-measure/
2 The Missouri Times, ‘Missouri First’ forms to oppose ‘Clean Missouri’ ballot measure, 7/26/18; https:// themissouritimes.com/52669/missourians- rst- forms-to-oppose-clean-missouri-ballot-measure/ quoting Senator Jim Talent of Missourians First, an organization opposing Amendment 1; accessed 9/8/18
3 Ibid
4 Ibid
5 http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/20180802/three-
accessed 9/8/18
6 https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/politics/
elections/2018/08/02/medical-marijuana-minimum- wage-set-appear-missourians-november- 24 ballots/888580002/ accessed 9/8/18
Action 5/30/18 delivered to the Secretary of State. 9/6/18 Proposition D in Missouri, 9/6/18 updated
9/10/18, KFVS News, http://www.kfvs12. com/2018/09/06/proposition-d-missouri/ accessed 9/11/18
7 https://www.missourinet.com/2018/08/10/efforts-to-raise- missouris-minimum-wage-on-ballot-in-november- general-election/ accessed 9/8/18
8 Abigail Hall Blanco, Guess Why Hundreds of Busboys Just Lost Their Jobs, 1/29/18, https://fee.org/articles/
accessed 1/29/18
9 Schedule I drugs are classi ed as having a high potential
for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment, and a lack of accepted safety for use. See https://calmca.org accessed 3/10/18
10 Ben Striker, “Legalizing medical marijuana in Missouri could boost real estate market, according to advocacy group” 2/22/18, www.claytontimes.com accessed 3/10/18
11 https://www.mjfactcheck.org/potency
12 Hidden Dangers of Marijuana, https://www.narconon.
org accessed 9/28/18
13 Ibid.
14 https://childmind.org/article/marijuana-and-psychosis/
15 Judith Grisel, professor of psychology and neuroscience
at Bucknell University, Pot Holes, Legalizing Marijuana is ne. But don’t ignore the science on its dangers, https://www.washingtonpost.com accessed 9/28/18
16 Ibid.
17 “Three Reasons Why Medical Cannabis
Should Be Legalized” 10/20/14, www.
medicalmarijuanaassociation.com, accessed 3/10/18.
18 Ibid.
19 Ibid.
20 Charles “Cully” Stimson, “The Case Against Legalizing
Marijuana in California” 3/3/12, The Heritage Foundation, www.heritage.org/commentary/ accessed 3/10/18.
21 Ibid.
22 https://ballotpedia.org/Missouri_Amendment_4,_
Amendment_(2018) accessed 9/8/18
23House Bill sponsored by Jean Evans (R) District 99. Last
Action 5/30/18 delivered to the Secretary of State.
249/6/18 Proposition D in Missouri, 9/6/18 updated
9/10/18, KFVS News, http://www.kfvs12. com/2018/09/06/proposition-d-missouri/ accessed 9/11/18
25 Ibid.