In addition to the usual slug of candidates, there are five amendments and one proposition for consideration. The Missouri Secretary of State's office has a synopsis of ballot measures and initiatives on its website and we encourage voters to do some research before marking your ballots.
EDITOR'S NOTE -- Friday's Lake Sun Opinion Page featured an Our View on each of the five amendments and one proposition.
On Amendment 4, also known as the Taxpayer Protection Amendment, our narrative said it calls for an increase in sales tax on a variety of services or transactions. It does not call for an increase in sales tax. It actually would prohibit the implementation of a sales tax on a variety of services that are not currently taxed. While the net effect could be more sales tax collected by the state in the future, it would not be a tax increase.
Our apologies for the confusion.
Missouri -- and Lake-area -- voters have some difficult decisions to make Tuesday when they go to the polls in General Election balloting.
In addition to the usual slug of candidates, there are five amendments and one proposition for consideration. The Missouri Secretary of State's office has a synopsis of ballot measures and initiatives on its website and we encourage voters to do some research before marking your ballots. The devil can be in the details, and the full text of each measure or initiative can be accessed on the SOS website.
That being said, we offer some thoughts on each:
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?
This is a renewal of an existing 10-year tax, so there would not be any increase. Revenue from the tax is used for state park and soil and water conservation efforts. We feel the stewards of our state parks and soil and water conservation efforts have done well in managing the funds. With two of the state's most popular state parks in our backyard, we certainly support continuation of the tax.
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?
Our support is tenuous. We certainly support constraints on campaign contributions and spending because we think, generally, the use of campaign funds has been abused. Political consultants and ad agencies seem to have little conscience or integrity as they craft sensationalized commercials. And there's always the chance for corruption when unrestricted funds are involved. The amendment carries specific limitations as to amounts and sources of contributions, and that's a good thing.
Missouri apparently is among a handful of states that do not limit contributions. Of course, there's the argument that the amendment does not go far enough. Will limitations reduce or eliminate monetary political influence? Doubtful. But it's a start.
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?
No. 1, it's a tax increase for a significant portion of our population. No. 2, it's discriminatory by singling out a segment of the population. No. 3, if the amendment reduces the number of smokers then it ultimately reduces revenue purportedly earmarked for women and children.
The amendment reeks of potential abuse. We're certainly in favor of reducing the number of Missourians who smoke, but on the backs of children and pregnant women? The funds generated would be shared in an Early Childhood Health and Education Trust Fund, as grants to health care facilities for early childhood health, and for smoking prevention among pregnant women.
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
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?
This is one we can get behind without a second thought. It calls for an increase in sales tax on a variety of services provided by businesses that are our friends and neighbors.
The Missouri Municipal League -- and we suspect many individual communities -- salivate at the thought of a new source of taxes. We suggest better management of existing revenues rather than force businesses -- and ultimately their customers -- to raise their cost of doing business.
Be careful: This is an initiative that requires a yes vote to defeat the measure.
Watch our lips: No new taxes, so vote yes.
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?
But with reservations. On the surface, we believe possessing some type of photo identification to vote is a good idea. If not a driver's license, a government-issued ID card. It makes voters more accountable and it reduces the chance of voter fraud.
Notice that the language stops short of requiring photo identification by using the word "may" and "exception" in the text. That leaves the amendment open to interpretation on several levels.
Empower Missouri opposes Amendment 6. The group says the amendment would weaken current voting rights. Federal courts have increasingly acknowledged that such laws do nothing to reduce fraud while unfairly depriving low-income voters and people of color of their constitutional rights, Empower Missouri says.
Those opposed say such a law would be unfair to the poor, elderly and certain ethnic groups who might find acquiring a photo ID financially burdensome. According to the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicle website, a non-driver ID card costs $11.
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 manufacturer’s 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?
Simply put: No new taxes.
Money raised from this tax would be used to fund transportation infrastructure projects.
Again, all tax-supported entities should to be accountable for and frugal with the taxpayers' hard-earned money rather than targeting unprotected taxpayers.
Regardless of how you feel about these issues, please get out and vote. Polls will be open from 6 a.m-7 p.m.