Monitoring The Pulpit

Posted: July 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

IRS to Monitor Sermons as Part of Settlement with Atheists

 


Read more at http://freedomoutpost.com/2014/07/irs-monitor-sermons-part-settlement-atheists/#g860QpmIXyr0LTM6.99

 

The Internal Revenue Service settled a lawsuit brought by the Freedom from Religion Foundation. The 2012 lawsuit was settled after the IRS agreed to monitor what is said in houses of worship, something that is a clear violation of the First Amendment, since no law can be written by Congress to this effect. Therefore, the “unconstitutional” IRS has gone way beyond what the federal Constitution allows.

 

Lifesitenews reports:

 

The Wisconsin group brought the lawsuit because it said the IRS was ignoring complaints about churches violating their tax-exempt statuses. Specifically, FFRF said many churches promote political issues, legislation, and/or candidates from the pulpit in violation of the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which requires that non-profits not endorse candidates.

According to FFRF, the IRS has not followed a 2009 ruling requiring it to hire someone to keep an eye on church politicking. The IRS says it hasn’t ignored the ruling, but merely failed to follow it.

The government has put a moratorium on the IRS’ investigations of tax-exempt organizations after the scandal that broke in 2013 over its targeting of pro-life, pro-family, and Tea Party groups. FFRF says that even though the IRS will not enforce the agreement because of the moratorium, they can still bring the lawsuit again if needed after the moratorium is lifted.

 

“This is a victory, and we’re pleased with this development in which the IRS has proved to our satisfaction that it now has in place a protocol to enforce its own anti-electioneering provisions,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor in a press release.

 

“Of course, we have the complication of a moratorium currently in place on any IRS investigations of any tax-exempt entities, church or otherwise, due to the congressional probe of the IRS,” she added. “FFRF could refile the suit if anti-electioneering provisions are not enforced in the future against rogue political churches.”

 

The press release went on to state:

 

The IRS has now resolved the signature authority issue necessary to initiate church examinations. The IRS also has adopted procedures for reviewing, evaluating and determining whether to initiate church investigations. While the IRS retains “prosecutorial” discretion with regard to any individual case, the IRS no longer has a blanket policy or practice of non-enforcement of political activity restrictions as to churches.

In addition to FFRF’s lawsuit, IRS enforcement procedures with respect to political activity by tax-exempt organizations have been the subject of intense scrutiny by Congress. As a result, the IRS is reviewing and implementing safeguards to ensure evenhanded enforcement across the board with respect to all tax-exempt organizations.

Until that process is completed, the IRS has suspended all examinations of tax-exempt organizations for alleged political activities. The current suspension, however, is not limited to church tax inquiries.

 

If you recall there was an outcry for “Pulpit Freedom Suday” back in 2012, as the left didn’t mind being political in Black Churches to advance its agenda, but God forbid that Churches that are truly biblical in their worldview speak out against the evils of political parties and issues of the day, something that would have been foreign to our forefathers.

 

According to FFRF, “Pulpit Freedom Sunday … has become an annual occasion for churches to violate the law with impunity. The IRS, meanwhile, admittedly was not enforcing the restrictions against churches.”

 

Senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom Erik Stanley said, “The IRS has no business censoring what a pastor preaches from the pulpit.”

 

ADF is seeking to “bring the era of IRS censorship and intimidation to an end by challenging the Johnson Amendment, which imposes unconstitutional restrictions on clergy speech.”

 

The problem is that many pastors are afraid of speaking on political issues from the Bible for a variety of issues. Some love their paycheck and don’t want to rock the boat, while others don’t want to lose “tax exempt status.” The reality is that a church does not have to be a 501c3 organization to be tax exempt. It is tax exempt due to the very nature that it is a Church. Note the IRS’ own publication concerning this issue:

 

Automatic Exemption for Churches

Churches that meet the requirements of IRC section 501(c)(3) are automatically considered tax exempt and are not required to apply for and obtain recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS.

Although there is no requirement to do so, many churches seek recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS because such recognition assures church leaders, members, and contributors that the church is recognized as exempt and qualifies for related tax benefits. For example, contributors to a church that has been recognized as tax exempt would know that their contributions generally are tax-deductible. (page 3)

 

In other words Churches, you are not required to be 501c3 to be tax exempt, it’s just if you want state recognition for the benefit of others… and I might add so that the government can pull your strings on issues like this one.

 

However, even though a Church may have received 501c3 status, Congress has already imposed limitations on the IRS as to how and when they may conduct tax inquiries and examinations of churches. They can only do that “if an appropriate high-level Treasury official reasonably believes, on the basis of facts and circumstances recorded in writing, that an organization claiming to be a church or convention or association of churches may not qualify for exemption, may be carrying on an unrelated trade or business (within the meaning of IRC § 513), may otherwise be engaged in taxable activities or may have entered into an IRC § 4958 excess benefit transaction with a disqualified person.”

 

Even then, it provides nothing for them to be able to stop a Church’s free speech of what the Bible says to a particular issue that is in the sphere of the public. In fact, Christians are commanded to not only preach the gospel, but also to teach all that Christ commanded (Matt. 28: 19-20) and to do so when it’s palettable and when it’s not (2 Tim. 2:4), which would include issues like abortion, sodomy, unjust money, lawbreaking, theft, taxes, and a host of instruction God has provided in His Word.

 

This is the same agency that has been specifically targeting American citizens politically and yet, they are claiming to now be able to investigate pastor’s sermons? I think that is the height of hypocrisy, and so does ADF’s Erik Stanley.

 

Stanley says there is a trust issue, and he’s right. “Especially given the recent IRS scandal,” he said. “Churches should be allowed to decide for themselves what they want to talk about. The IRS should not be the one making the decision by threatening to revoke a church’s tax-exempt status.”

 

“A pastor’s speech from the pulpit should not be subject to the whims of a government official,” concluded Stanley.

 

I agree, they should not, but I’ll go further: They are not to be subject to the whims of government.

 

Pastors, it’s time to man up. I suggest ridding yourself of 501c3 status and merely keep good records if there is ever a question, and start preaching the Word of God with boldness.

 

For more on this subject, I highly recommend Peter Kershaw’s excellent work, “In Caesar’s Grip.”


Read more at http://freedomoutpost.com/2014/07/irs-monitor-sermons-part-settlement-atheists/#g860QpmIXyr0LTM6.99

 

Mark Levin’s Lawsuit Against The Obama Admin Could Leave The EPA In Shambles
Read more at http://www.westernjournalism.com/mark-levin-plans-hit-obama-administration-hurts-lawsuit/#FrqFsy4zx0AVEQgl.99

While the issue of lost or destroyed email correspondences has been a common theme in the ongoing congressional investigation of anti-conservative biases within the IRS, one conservative talk show host is using the concept as the grounds for a suit against the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Reports this week indicate that Mark Levin, acting through the Landmark Legal Foundation, recently sought a judicial sanction against the agency regarding allegations that it destroyed vital records regarding the implementation of new federal regulations.

 

Washington Post article published late last year confirms that a number of these EPA mandates were purposely held back until the 2012 presidential election had passed in an ostensible effort to protect the Democrat Party from backlash from disillusioned voters. Compounding that potential scandal, Levin said, is his foundation’s claim that the EPA violated federal law by allowing emails and phone records about the systematic regulatory delays to be destroyed.

 

In documents presented to Judge Royce Lamberth, Landmark Legal Foundation asserts that the agency “undertook no effort to secure potentially responsive emails from the administrator’s personal email account, even though EPA states in its own litigation hold memorandum that every email on a personal email account should be preserved even if it is forwarded to another account.”

 

Levin took the opportunity to release his own statement on the matter, in which he called the EPA a “toxic waste dump for lawlessness and disdain for the Constitution.”

 

Though an agency source indicated the EPA is “committed to transparency” and strives to comply with federal law, the conservative host and constitutional attorney sees it differently.

 

“When any federal agency receives a [Freedom of Information Act] request, the statute says it must preserve every significant repository of records, both paper and electronic, that may contain materials that could be responsive of that request,” he asserted.

 

Levin concluded that EPA employees on every level “think they’re above the law, that no one has the right to question what or how they do their jobs.”

 

Through this suit, Levin apparently wants to send a clear message to the EPA and the Obama administration.

 

“The laws apply to everyone,” he concluded, “even federal bureaucrats.”


Read more at http://www.westernjournalism.com/mark-levin-plans-hit-obama-administration-hurts-lawsuit/#FrqFsy4zx0AVEQgl.99

August 5th is a very big day for the Missouri Constitution, and this is a VERY lengthy post…So get a glass of tea, or whatever tickles your taste buds, and get ready to read.

There are 5 proposed Constitutional Amendments that will be on the ballot in this mid-cycle election. We want everyone to make up their own minds on whether or not these are good ideas for the freedom and well being of the Citizens of Missouri. Below, you will find the Secretary of State listing of all of these proposed amendments, and then below each amendment, a pro and a con on each of these proposals.

Please make truly informed decisions and do not take the ballot language as being a truthful indicator of the actual effects of these amendments should they pass.

2014 Ballot Measures

The following ballot measures have been certified for the August 5, 2014primary election.

Official Ballot Title
Constitutional Amendment 1

[full text

[Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (First Regular Session) CCS#2 for SS for HCS HJR Nos. 11 & 7]

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure that the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed?

The potential costs or savings to governmental entities are unknown, but likely limited unless the resolution leads to increased litigation costs and/or the loss of federal funding.

Fair Ballot Language:

“yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to guarantee the rights of Missourians to engage in farming and ranching practices, subject to any power given to local government under Article VI of the Missouri Constitution.

“no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution regarding farming and ranching.

If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.

                                                                 Amendment 1- The “Right to Farm”

Pro for Amendment 1:

(excerpt from a very lengthy article Today’s Farmer Magazine)

Why support it?

Missouri Farmers Care and others list the following reasons for their support.
•    It could protect farm families that don’t have a lot of resources. “Large corporations have the financial resources to relocate or fight legal battles,” explained Dan Kleinsorge, executive director of Missouri Farmers Care. “Most farmers don’t have this same ability, and they need an amendment enshrined in the state constitution to protect them from groups that want to harm agriculture through misleading legislation and ballot initiatives. It will also give farmers a last line of defense in the courts to challenge laws intended to put farmers out of business.”
•    It won’t protect those who violate laws or regulations. “The Missouri Farming Rights Amendment will not give farmers a blank check or exempt them from common sense regulation,” Kleinsorge said. “Bad actors that are breaking the law will not benefit.”
•    It could keep food affordable. “Farmers work hard to make sure that we have food available at a reasonable price for consumers,” said Don Nikodim, executive director of the Missouri Pork Association, and chairman of Missouri Farmers Care. “If we weren’t able to use modern technology to raise crops and livestock, less food would be available and the cost of food would go up.”
•    The amendment may protect farm-
related jobs. “Agriculture is Missouri’s number one industry,” said Oetting. “Not passing this amendment could jeopardize Missouri’s economy, jobs and family businesses.”
Who opposes it, and why?

In January 2014, a group called Missouri’s Food for America gathered in Jefferson City to argue against the amendment. Wes Shoemyer, a Monroe County farmer and former state legislator, leads the group. He argues that the amendment would protect big corporate agriculture such as Monsanto and Cargill.

Hurst counters that Missouri has farmers of all sizes and types, and all will benefit. “We need all kinds of agriculture,” he said. “We benefit from diversity, and this amendment guarantees that we will maintain that diversity.”

How goes the battle?

In March, according to the Missouri Liberty Project, the Wickers Group surveyed 400 Missourians registered and likely to vote in the August 2014 election, and found 69 percent support Amendment 1.

But Dan Kleinsorge says farmers aren’t counting their chickens before they hatch. “This is an uphill battle because radical animal rights groups like the Humane Society of the United States have millions of dollars at their disposal to buy ads targeting Missouri farmers,” he said. “But we are committed to raising the funds for a fully fledged campaign to inform every Missourian about why our state needs this amendment to protect family farmers and food choices. Farmers will be the heart and soul of our campaign.”

Oetting thinks the battle for public support for agriculture should continue beyond the August election. “Today, most Americans are three to five generations removed from the farm,” she said. “They don’t understand that science and technology have taken agriculture into the 21st century, as with all business and industry. Farmers have fallen short by not communicating how new production methods help us to be good stewards in caring for the land and our animals.”

The Con on Amendment 1

Missouri Amendment Could Hurt Family Farms

by Richard Oswald President of MFU

Farming is a tough business made harder by difficult weather and markets. Like most survivors of life-changing events, those of us left on the farm have had experiences that shape who we are today.

Looking back over my 60-plus years on a family farm, I see attitude, sympathetic lenders, luck, and most of all family relationships, as reasons why I still farm.

Family farmers have waited and hoped government would do something to mend the farm situation in their favor. But in government eyes, bigger has always been better — even when bigger meant more pollution, less competition and higher costs.

Realities of today are that though U.S. agriculture seems a national icon, corporations, some native to foreign countries, are busily replacing people like me.

The National Cattleman’s Beef Association and the American Meat Institute opposed labeling meat and poultry according to its country of origin because their largest dues-paying members aren’t cattlemen at all, but multinational meat packers.

During recent farm bill negotiations, disaster assistance for U.S. beef producers hit hard by weather was held hostage in an effort to kill Country of Origin Labeling, known by the acronym COOL.

In order to have identity, family farmers must have products. Denying us the right to label our safe, wholesome, home-grown food denies not only who we are, but our very existence.

Family farms are not far from extinction as rural populations fall. Many of us who remain, even large farms, can claim family traditions. But the fact is that farm bill mischief and politics have hastened our demise.

Here in Missouri, where agriculture has always been mainstay, we are no strangers to big food. Traditional livestock growing regions in Missouri are two sides of the same coin as family farm cattle herds graze within feet of massive corporate poultry and hog confinements.

Most livestock confinements are controlled by the same meat packers who would deny my right to label my products. Among those corporate entities is Smithfield Foods.

Many of us in rural Missouri were dismayed when the General Assembly set about dismantling the rights of property owners by limiting recurring nuisance liability for Smithfield. As many of our Missouri state representatives and senators crafted legislation protecting it from its own pollution troubles, Smithfield was in buyout talks with a company based in China.

Liability from nuisance lawsuits like those faced by financially challenged Smithfield subsidiary Premium Standard Farms could have been a sticking point for Chinese buyers. Thanks to politics, it’s not an issue any more just as limits placed on foreign ownership of Missouri land have been redrawn to fit the buyout by China’s Shuanghui International.

In still another instance of pandering to corporate food control, the Missouri General Assembly has placed Constitutional Amendment 1 on the November ballot. Supposedly designed to assure the right to farm for Missouri citizens, its vague wording is bound to favor corporations, even Chinese corporations, over Missouri family farms. That’s because Supreme Court rulings that a corporation is a person play into the hands of Amendment 1 supporters of corporate food control.

Amendment 1 in Missouri could grant even the worst corporations the right to do whatever they want when they claim to be “farmer” or “rancher.”

Some say we can never return to the days when family farms produced the bulk of what we eat. That will be true so long as Missourians continue to elect those who favor the politics of big food. Missouri voters can reverse that trend. It’s time they did.

========================

Official Ballot Title
Constitutional Amendment 5

[full text

[Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (Second Regular Session) SCS SJR 36]

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to include a declaration that the right to keep and bear arms is a unalienable right and that the state government is obligated to uphold that right?

State and local governmental entities should have no direct costs or savings from this proposal. However, the proposal’s passage will likely lead to increased litigation and criminal justice related costs. The total potential costs are unknown, but could be significant.

Fair Ballot Language:

“yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to expand the right to keep and bear arms to include ammunition and related accessories for such arms. This amendment also removes the language that states the right to keep and bear arms does not justify the wearing of concealed weapons. This amendment does not prevent the legislature from limiting the rights of certain felons and certain individuals adjudicated as having a mental disorder.

“no”; vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution regarding arms, ammunition, and accessories for such arms.

If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.

Amendment 5- Unalienable Right to Bear Arms

This one will be in reverse order. The cons will be first followed by the pros:

Con on Amendment 5

 

Ballot language - Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to include a declaration that the right to keep and bear arms is a unalienable right and that the state government is obligated to uphold that right? 

 

Current Article I, Section 23. That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons.

 

Proposed new Article I, Section 23That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms, ammunition, and accessories typical to the normal function of such arms, in defense of his home, person, family and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned[; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons].The rights guaranteed by this section shall be unalienable. Any restriction on these rights shall be subject to strict scrutiny and the state of Missouri shall be obligated to uphold these rights and shall under no circumstances decline to protect against their infringement. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the general assembly from enacting general laws which limit the rights of convicted violent felons or those adjudicated by a court to be a danger to self or others as result of a mental disorder or mental infirmity.

 

In the proposed new amendment shown above, words enclosed in [  ] will be removed from existing law. Words in Bold will be added to existing law.

 

The one positive about this amendment is the removal of the words “but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons”.

 

However there are several problems with this amendment:

 

1. The very first line reads “That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms, ammunition, and accessories typical to the normal function of such arms ………..”What is a normal function? There is no definition of “normal function” in state statutes.  This will be subject to future interpretation.

 

2. “The rights guaranteed by this section shall be unalienable”(Unalienable rights are rights which cannot be given away or given up.)  The next line reads Any restriction on these rights shall be subject to strict scrutiny.” So these rights are unalienable UNLESS they are restricted? In which case the restrictions will be subject to strict scrutiny. Who will impose restrictions? Who will provide the scrutiny for said restrictions?

 

3. “Nothing in this amendment shall be construed to prevent the passage of general laws by the General Assembly that limit such rights for convicted violent felons or persons adjudged to be a danger to self or others as the result of a mental disorder or mental infirmity”. While many will see this language as reasonable, allowing government to determine who can possess firearms is fraught with unseen and unknown danger. Historical cases of governments using “mental illness” as an excuse to detain and imprison its citizens are many.

 

The Constitution Party of Missouri recommends a “NO” vote on Amendment #5.

 

Pro on Amendmet 5:

Addressing the three CP concerns:1) It’s clear that the anti-gun folks want to take our ability to USE our firearms, even if they can’t take the guns, themselves, away. Protecting things needed to effectively use them, like ammo and accessories, is a good addition to our constitutional rights. If we had not included “typical to the normal function of such arms” the opposition would still have been able to try to limit magazine capacity, etc.2) “Any restriction on these rights shall be subject to strict scrutiny.” is probably the most important phrase in the amendment. We always have had laws restricting our God-given unalienable rights, and we always will. Some of those restrictions are necessary to any society, if you are going to respect and protect OTHER’S God-given unalienable rights.

For instance, I think most of us would agree that a law against slander (restricting someone’s free speech rights) would be appropriate. Likewise, we would agree that there should be legal consequences when someone deliberately lies about or misrepresents a product. If a filling station sold you “gas” that was really water, you would want him to be accountable for ruining your engine.

And I think most of us would agree that a law restricting target practice in a crowded urban neighborhood was an appropriate restriction of the right to keep and bear arms.

All of those things would pass the legal standard of review called “the strict scrutiny test”.

A law, however, saying you can’t own a gun if you live in a crowded neighborhood, or fire one in protection of your life or property, would not pass the strict scrutiny legal test.

The addition of that language to SJR 36 is a direct response to the modern courts’ tendency to “dumb down” our rights by applying “lesser” standards of review of laws restricting our rights. Increasingly, courts are redefining and diminishing our rights by applying something called “the rational basis test”. Learn more about it here: https://soundcloud.com/institute…/make-believe-judging-the and ://www.ij.org/…/other_pubs/neily_georgetown_journal.pdf

In sum, the strict scrutiny clause in SJR 36 is not at all opening the door for more infringements on our gun rights, but it IS forcing the courts to use the toughest standard of review when such unconstitutional laws are challenged.

3) With respect to the final clause, the current CP position is: “While many will see this language as reasonable, allowing government to determine who can possess firearms is fraught with unseen and unknown danger. Historical cases of governments using “mental illness” as an excuse to detain and imprison its citizens are many.”

Again, I think most of us would agree that the state SHOULD be able to restrict the rights of SOME people — those serving time in prison for murder, for instance. Such people have rightly lost the right to move about freely and to associate with whomever they choose. And they have also lost the right to keep and bear arms.

The language in SJR 36 builds new fences around the state’s ability to make those sorts of restrictions. For instance, right now a VA doctor can unilaterally make the determination that veteran is unfit to own a gun. With SJR 36, the individual gets due process — a court of law has to determine that he is a real danger before he loses any rights.

SJR 36 greatly ties the hands of the state and provides unprecedented protection to Missourian’s right to keep and bear arms.

=======================

 

 

Official Ballot Title
Constitutional Amendment 7

[full text

[Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (Second Regular Session) SS HJR 68]

Official Ballot Title:

Should the Missouri Constitution be changed to enact a temporary sales tax of three-quarters of one percent to be used solely to fund state and local highways, roads, bridges and transportation projects for ten years, with priority given to repairing unsafe roads and bridges?

This change is expected to produce $480 million annually to the state’s Transportation Safety and Job Creation Fund and $54 million for local governments.  Increases in the gas tax will be prohibited.  This revenue shall only be used for transportation purposes and cannot be diverted for other uses.

Fair Ballot Language:

“yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to increase funding for state, county, and municipal street, road, bridge, highway, and public transportation initiatives by increasing the state sales/use tax by three-quarters of one percent for 10 years. This amendment further prohibits a change in gasoline taxes and prohibits toll roads or bridges. This amendment also requires these measures to be re-approved by voters every 10 years.

“no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution to increase funding for state, county, and municipal street, road, bridge, highway, and public transportation initiatives.

If passed, this measure will increase the state sales/use tax.

 

Amendment 7: Increased Tax for Roads and Bridges

Pro for Amendment 7:

From LTE Columbia Tribune:

Recognizing a severe shortage of funds to maintain and build Missouri transportation facilities, supporters faced an unprecedented dilemma. Motor fuel taxes no longer are adequate, so they propose turning to a three-fourths-cent sales tax increase expected to produce $534 million annually over 10 years, with $54 million sent to cities and counties for local improvements. An election is proposed every 10 years to renew the tax.

The Missouri Department of Transportation has done a very good job designing the program, headlined by an expansion of Interstate 70 across the state to three lanes each direction. Local improvements include runway improvements and a new terminal at Columbia Regional Airport, extending Stadium Boulevard to Route WW and adding two hours of service daily to the city bus system.

Little opposition is heard regarding the need for the construction but, led by Gov. Jay Nixon, a sizable body of opposition has arisen to the funding mechanism, which argues that the sales tax visits unfairly on lower-income people and that large trucks are exempted from higher fees or taxes.

This is a legitimate argument. The proposal would have been more palatable had some of the revenue come from a hike in diesel fuel taxes, but is this reason enough to vote “no” on Amendment 7?

To get any sort of funding proposal through the General Assembly, powerful motor fuel and truck lobbies had to be placated. And, as mentioned earlier, motor fuel taxes simply will not provide the needed revenue. Even if the truck fuel tax had been hiked somewhat, sales taxes still would have been needed.

Opponents worry about lower-income people whose spending pattern exposes them disproportionately to sales taxes, but these people along with everyone else in Missouri need a revitalized transportation system. What will opponents of the sales tax propose instead? Just saying “no” is not enough. The implication of their opposition is to deny a transportation fix indefinitely in hopes the avoided tax increase will be used more to their liking, a faint hope indeed.

So, it’s a tough proposition. All of us would like to fix transportation without resorting to a sales tax, but this is not a realistic option. In Missouri, we have avoided biting this bullet as long as we should. The benefits of improving transportation will accrue to everyone. A good portion of sales tax revenue will come from visitors as well as residents, painlessly enlarging the pool.

Supporters of Amendment 7 naturally enough include industries that will benefit from the spending. The projects will have beneficial economic impact for some sectors and locations, but so it will be no matter how revenue is raised.

Time to bite the bullet and vote “Yes” on Amendment 7.

Con on Amendment 7:

(Excerpts from Vote No on Amendment 7– More Info at the link)

 

  • The Tax is Unfair
  • The biggest beneficiary of the tax, the trucking industry, will pay almost none of it – despite the fact that trucks do most of the damage to our roads. Not only will the trucking industry avoid paying their fair share through a gas tax, the industry pays almost no sales tax, since the General Assembly previously exempted the purchase of many trucks, trailers and truck parts from state and local sales taxes.
  • Most truck traffic does not even serve Missouri business; those trucks will be getting an entirely free ride courtesy of Missouri taxpayers. According to the Missouri Freight Study, 55% of Missouri’s truck traffic by tonnage has neither an origin nor destination in Missouri.
  • Those who benefit the least from Amendment 7, people of modest incomes who do less driving and pay a disproportionate share of their incomes toward sales tax, will bear the greatest burden of this regressive tax.
  • It has been longstanding policy of virtually every state in the nation to rely on those that benefit the most from highways, auto owners and other highway users, to pay the costs of building and maintaining highways through a gas tax.
  • Worst of all, the ballot issue prohibits any increase in user fees like gas taxes or tolls during the time when the sales tax is in effect, assuring that the outrageous inequity in funding the state’s highway program will effectively be permanent.(Note: trucks do pay significant road taxes but studies have concluded over the years that the heaviest trucks do the majority of damage to the roads and only pay about half of their actual costs to the system. The sales tax will dramatically increase that inequity.)
  • The Tax is Excessive

 

  • This is the largest tax increase in Missouri’s history. Missouri is struggling to pay for essential services such as public education, the social safety-net, healthcare, public safety, and criminal justice. The General Assembly has made clear its belief that lower taxes will attract economic growth and has generally acted to restrict spending and cut taxes. To enact the largest tax increase in our history at this time is hypocritical and counterproductive. Missouri’s families are already hard pressed to pay their bills during this period of slow economic recovery; adding to their burden at this time is wrong.
  • Because of one-time infusions of funds through some questionable borrowing, and the windfall of the federal economic stimulus program, MoDOT has enjoyed the largest construction program in its history over the last ten years. Asking Missouri’s taxpayers to make this record rate of expenditure the “new normal” by continuing to spend at this extravagant pace is unrealistic, unnecessary and unfair, especially when just about every other function of state government is operating under austerity conditions.

Official Ballot Title
Constitutional Amendment 8

[full text

[Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (Second Regular Session) HJR 48]

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to create a “Veterans Lottery Ticket” and to use the revenue from the sale of these tickets for projects and services related to veterans?

The annual cost or savings to state and local governmental entities is unknown, but likely minimal. If sales of a veterans lottery ticket game decrease existing lottery ticket sales, the profits of which fund education, there could be a small annual shift in funding from education to veterans’ programs.

Fair Ballot Language:

“yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to create a “Veterans Lottery Ticket.” This amendment further provides that the revenue from the sale of these tickets will be used for projects and services related to veterans.

“no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution to create a “Veterans Lottery Ticket.”

If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes

Amendment 8 “Veterans Lottery”

Seemingly the best source for thoughts on Amendment 8 is Ballotpedia. Below are excerpts:

Pro on Amendment 8:

Proponents say the lottery would help fund the state’s seven veterans homes, which have a waiting list of 1,900 people. They say veterans’ lotteries in Illinois, Kansas and Iowa have raised millions of dollars.

Con on Amendment 8:

Rep. LaFaver opposed the bill because of the existing lottery and its lack of contribution to the education system. He said, “The lottery is one of the most inefficient ways that our state government can produce revenue because for every dollar that somebody buys a lottery ticket, only 25 cents actually makes it to a school or veteran home.” LaFaver is unopposed to increasing funding for veterans, but said, “Let’s advocate for it in the budget. Let’s advocate for it through an efficient revenue stream. Let’s do that without taking from education.”

=========================

 

Official Ballot Title
Constitutional Amendment 9

[full text

[Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (Second Regular Session) SCS SJR 27]

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects?

State and local governmental entities expect no significant costs or savings.

Fair Ballot Language:

“yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to specify that electronic data and communications have the same protections from unreasonable searches and seizures as persons, papers, homes, and effects.

“no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution regarding protections for electronic communications and data.

If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.

Amendment 9- Electronic Effects 4th Amendment Protection

Again, the best source for both pro and con information on this amendment looks like Ballotpedia. Here are 2 small excerpts, and you are encouraged to click through and read all the info:

Pro:

Amendment 9 would take us into the 21st century by adding electronic data to protection from unreasonable search and seizure of our “persons, papers, homes and effects. This is a logical step in an electronic age.

Con:

Amendment 9 might have been a good idea right up until June 25, when a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court agreed that law enforcement officers need a warrant to search digital information on a cell phone seized from someone who has been arrested. [...] There’s no need for Missouri to pile on with extra privacy laws, just as there’s no need for superfluous gun laws or property-rights laws. The more clutter you stick into the state constitution, the more problems you cause in interpreting it.

 

 

 

Thanks to Bill Gracy for the reminder on the Very Important Nonpoint Pollution Management Plan Public meetings:
JUST A REMINDER, the DNR WILL BE HOLDING PUBLIC MEETINGS ON THEIR Nonpoint Source Management (DRAFT) Plan:
WE NEED MAXIMUM PARTICIPATION AT THESE MEETINGS.  PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND ONE OR THE OTHER IF POSSIBLE.


Bill Gracy
417 846-3928


July 22, 2014, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
at the Dewey Short Visitor Center,
4500 State Highway 165, Branson. 
The second meeting will be held on:
July 28, 2014, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
at the Lewis and Clark State Office Building,
1101 Riverside Drive in
Jefferson City.

 

I find the news of this striking. As anyone with an ounce of commonsense can tell, strident gun laws lead to more crime. Just look at Chicago as your paradigm of hope. That hasn’t stopped the Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio from trying to repeat error. The article below should have a link at the end to view the actual proposal:

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson introduces new gun laws to City Council

Posted: Jul 15, 2014 8:19 PM CDTUpdated: Jul 15, 2014 8:19 PM CDT

Mayor Jackson is working to prevent gun crime in the city. (Source: WOIO)Mayor Jackson is working to prevent gun crime in the city. (Source: WOIO)
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -Tuesday night, Mayor Frank Jackson submitted a re-written version of his new gun laws to Cleveland City Council.

Mayor Jackson is proposing a new gun offender registry, limit new firearms purchases to one per person every 90 days, and owners must keep their guns away from minors. The new legislation would repeal the city’s current laws and replace them with newer, stricter laws.

“We’ve taken thousands of guns off the streets of Cleveland over the last eight and a half years. We work in partnership with law enforcement on all levels to take violent offenders off the street. And, we’ve added police officers to our gang unit to help address the problem,” said Mayor Jackson. “This legislation, if passed, will give us another way to attack the problem of gun violence in Cleveland and make Cleveland a safer place.”
The Mayor first introduced his ideas during a press conference last month.
Citing high rates of violence in Cleveland, and a convention coming in just two years, there is pressure on city officials and police to stop the violence.
To read a full copy of the proposed legislation, click here.

 

California Couple Faces Fine for Brown Lawn

  • Droughtcouple.jpg

    July 17: Michael Korte and his wife Laura Whitney, pose outside their home lawn in Glendora, Calif. The Southern California couple who scaled back watering due to drought received a letter from the city of Glendora warning that they could face fines if they don’t get their brown lawn green again.AP

Laura Whitney and her husband, Michael Korte, don’t know whether they’re being good citizens during a drought or scofflaws.

On the same day the state approved mandatory outdoor watering restrictions with the threat of $500 fines, the Southern California couple received a letter from their city threatening a $500 penalty for not watering their brown lawn.

It’s brown because of their conservation, which, besides a twice-a-week lawn watering regimen, includes shorter showers and larger loads of laundry.

They’re encouraged by the state’s new drought-busting, public service slogan: Brown is the new green.

The city of Glendora sees it differently.

“Despite the water conservation efforts, we wish to remind you that limited watering is still required to keep landscaping looking healthy and green,” says the letter, which gives Korte and Whitney 60 days to restore their lawn.

They’re among residents caught in the middle of conflicting government messages as the need for conservation clashes with the need to preserve attractive neighborhoods.

“My friends in Los Angeles got these letters warning they could be fined if they water, and I got a letter warning that I could be fined for not watering,” Whitney said. “I felt like I was in an alternate universe.”

Despite the drought, Californians have increased their water use by 1 percent in May compared with previous years, according to a state survey of water providers. To combat perceived complacency, the state water board voted this week to require water agencies to adopt emergency drought plans and authorized fines of up to $500 a day for water wasters.

The board’s chairwoman, Felicia Marcus, said “a brown lawn should be a badge of honor because it shows you care about your community.” But several homeowners are reporting that a dried-up lawn instead attracts the wrath of their community.

Homeowners associations can’t punish residents for scaling back on landscaping under an executive order signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in April and a bill awaiting his signature. While both measures are silent on fines imposed by local governments, the governor’s office condemned moves that punish drought-conscious Californians.

“These efforts to conserve should not be undermined by the short-sighted actions of a few local jurisdictions, who chose to ignore the statewide crisis we face, the farmers and farmworkers losing their livelihoods, the communities facing drinking water shortages and the state’s shrinking reservoirs,” said Amy Norris, a spokeswoman for the California Environmental Protection Agency, in a written statement.

Local officials say conserving water and maintaining healthy landscaping are not mutually exclusive goals. They caution that even in times of water shortages, residents shouldn’t have free rein to drive down property values, and they can use drought-resistant landscaping or turf removal programs to meet local standards.

“During a drought or non-drought, residents have the right to maintain their landscaping the way they want to, so long as it’s aesthetically pleasing and it’s not blighted,” said Al Baker, president of the California Association of Code Enforcement Officers.

Anaheim resident Sandra Tran, 47, said she started installing drought-resistant landscaping after receiving violation notices from Orange County Public Works. She spent more than $600 on the changes as the agency mandated she water and maintain her yard in “a healthy green condition.”

Yet as Tran drives home from work, she sees signs flashing on the freeway urging her to conserve water.

“It’s almost crazy because one agency is telling you one thing and another is forcing you to do the opposite,” she said.

Democratic Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown introduced a bill that would have prohibited local governments from imposing fines, but she dropped AB1636 after cities in her district promised not to penalize homeowners for brown lawns during a drought emergency.

Brown was shocked when she heard the practice continued elsewhere in the state, and said she would consider reviving her bill in 2015.

“It seems to me those cities aren’t using common sense,” Brown said. “It’s too bad you need a law.”

 

Many thanks to Lt Governor Peter Kinder and all the State Senators and Representatives that sent letters to the DNR requesting that they extend the comment period and hold more public meetings. They have done so!

Here is the release from the DNR with meetings at the bottom of the notice:

Missouri Nonpoint Source Management Plan

Section 319 of the Clean Water Act establishes a national program to address pollution from stormwater runoff, which is known technically as nonpoint sources of water pollution. Nonpoint sources of water pollution are the leading causes of water quality degradation in the United States. Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act specifically authorizes EPA to award grants to states with approved Nonpoint Source Management Program Plans. As required by Section 319(h), each state’s Nonpoint Source Management Program Plan describes the state program for nonpoint source management and serves as the basis for how funds are spent.

The document is revised every five years to reflect current conditions. Please contact the Department of Natural Resources’ Water Protection Program at 573-751-1300 or 573-751-7428 for more information.

From 2011 through 2013, EPA conducted a national reform of the 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program.  All state programs, including Missouri’s, are impacted by the reform and are undergoing changes.  A new nonpoint source management plan is in development to reflect new state and national priorities.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources invites the public to comment on the department’s Draft Nonpoint Source Management Plan. The department will be hosting two public meetings.  The first meeting will be held on July 22, 2014, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Dewey Short Visitor Center, 4500 State Highway 165, Branson.  The second meeting will be held on July 28, 2014 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lewis and Clark State Office Building, 1101 Riverside Drive in Jefferson City.

Nonpoint Source Management Plan 2014 Revision

The department has extended the deadline to receive public comments on the draft Nonpoint Source Management Plan until Aug. 8, 2014. Comments may be submitted by email to greg.anderson@dnr.mo.gov and should include the sender’s contact information, or by U.S. postal service to Department of Natural Resources, Water Protection Program, Watershed Protection Section, PO Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0176.
Public Notice Information

New developments in the plan revision process will be posted to this page as information becomes available.  Links will also be provided on the department’s Water Protection Forum website.

none DRAFT State of Missouri Nonpoint Source Management Plan (Revised 05/09/2014)

2002 State of Missouri Nonpoint Source Management Plan