An eclectic set of ballot issues awaits Missouri voters

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By Tracy King

Most of the choices on the ballot this November involve deciding who should make laws for our state and nation.

However, voters will also have several opportunities to make laws themselves this year. As many as seven statewide ballot initiatives will be decided by voters this year — depending on whether legal challenges to some of the initiatives are successful.

Some of the issues are constitutional amendments that state lawmakers placed on the ballot. Others arrived on the ballot via initiative petition, an increasingly popular process that circumvents the legislature and places statute and constitutional changes directly before voters.

Keep reading to learn more about the ballot issues that Missouri voters will see this year. To see the exact ballot language for each issue, visit the Missouri Secretary of State’s website.

Amendment 1: Funding for parks, soil and water

In 1984, Missouri voters passed a one-tenth of 1 percent sales and use tax to support Missouri’s state park system and soil and water conservation efforts. It’s been reapproved by voters three times since. The tax currently generates about $90 million annually. The ballot issue is a constitutional amendment that would allow the tax to continue for another 10 years.

Amendment 2: Capping political contributions

Also in court is a potential ballot issue to place limits on political contributions. Under the proposed rule, up to $2,600 could be donated to individual candidates and up to $25,000 to political parties. This potential constitutional amendment would also place new restrictions on corporate political donations and would change how political action committees operate. It would also stop candidates from using campaign committees to pass money back and forth. It would also forbid some, but not all, businesses from contributing to political action committees.

Amendment 3: Cigarette taxes for education

Voters also may have the option to pass a new cigarette tax to help fund early childhood education and health care programs. Over four years, this proposed constitutional amendment would raise cigarette taxes by 60 cents, with some cigarette wholesalers paying an additional new 67 cent tax. It could generate as much as $374 million per year. Part of the funding would go to smoking cessation programs for pregnant women and youth. As of this writing, this ballot issue was being challenged in court.

Amendment 4: Blocking new sales taxes

Adding this amendment to Missouri’s constitution would stop the state from expanding sales and use taxes to any services or transactions that were not taxed as of Jan. 1, 2015. This issue comes as some state lawmakers have discussed eliminating Missouri’s income tax in favor of more sales and use taxes. If this ballot item passes, it could make it more difficult to enact that change.

Amendment 6: Requiring voter ID

This ballot issue would require voters to provide valid government-issued photo identification when they come to the polls. After debating this topic for years in Jefferson City, lawmakers decided to allow Missouri voters to settle the issue. If passed, the ability to require a voter ID requirement would be written into the state’s constitution, allowing state lawmakers to lay the framework for those provisions in statute.

Proposition A: Cigarette taxes for transportation

While voters have rejected cigarette tax increases in the past, this is a new effort aimed at earmarking the new cigarette tax revenues for transportation improvements. The new state law would phase in a 23-cent tax increase on cigarettes and a 5 percent tax increase on other tobacco products. By 2021, when fully phased in, the tax would generate about $100 million per year. However, the ballot issue includes language that would repeal this measure if an additional tobacco tax increase ever appears on a local or state ballot.

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