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.

 

 

 

Comments
  1. Johnnie E. Stone says:

    First I am a veteran and I believe in the rights of the farmer and, especially the small farmer, try eating without them.Yes, there should be gun restrictions for the mentally disturbed and the violent criminals,and that is it. If some third world country finds out that we have disarmed our countries citizens what would stop them from coming here and starting up a war with our defenseless brothers and sisters, Even our currency proclaims IN GOD WE TRUST so, don,t be fools.

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