Archive for the ‘Animal Ownership/Rights’ Category

Missouri’s Cattle Producers Overwhelmingly Reject New Missouri Beef Checkoff
75% of Registered Producers Voted No

Columbia, MO—Today, the Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MRCC) is pleased to announce a stunning victory for Missouri’s independent cattle farmers over corporate agriculture, with the defeat of the proposed Missouri beef checkoff. MRCC, a statewide farm and rural organization that represents independent cattle farmers, led the “Vote NO” campaign.

This was a tremendous victory for Missouri cattle farmers and the future of our industry. Thousands of family farmers said loud and clear that they do not support paying any additional beef checkoffs.

According to the results announced today by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, 77% of registered producers voted in the referendum and 75% of those voters said “NO” to a new beef checkoff.

“Missouri cattle producers are on the right side of history and this vote shows that we are willing to stand up and fight for the future of our industry,” said Darvin Bentlage, cattle farmer from Barton County, MO. “We will not cave to special interests and unaccountable government agencies attempting to take over our industry.”

This new checkoff was an attempt to force Missouri’s 50,000 cattle farmers to pay over $2 million a year into a new unaccountable state beef checkoff program. U.S. cattle producers have already paid over $2 billion into the federal beef checkoff program, which has been a failure. Beef consumption is down 32%, 40% of Missouri cattle operations have gone out of business, and more and more of our checkoff dollars are going to promote foreign beef. Adding a new mandatory checkoff clearly was not the answer.

Unfortunately, organizations that supported this new state beef checkoff continue to demonstrate that they are out-of-touch with the vast majority of Missouri’s cattle farmers.

“This was not only a fight against the new beef checkoff, it is also a fight about what kind of livestock production we want in Missouri—corporate controlled industrial livestock production, or a future for family farm agriculture,” said Roger Allison, cattle farmer from Howard County and Executive Director of MRCC. “This vote is an example of how we can and will fight and win for our independence, democracy and the future of family farms.”

If you’ve been raising cattle for any length of time, you know how the Check Off issue is loaded with corruption and seeming misappropriation of funds. Everyone gets to pay the Check Off and very few benefit from the additional collection of funds. Well Missouri wants to add an increased check off tax for just Missouri. Please read the following from Missouri Rural Crisis Center and then download this pdf form and register so your voice is counted in the discussion.
STOP the New Missouri Beef Checkoff Tax
In order to Vote NO on this corporate money grab—
Cattle Producers Must Register before March 4th
Thank you for signing the petition opposing a new state beef checkoff tax. Now is the time to register with the Missouri Department of Agriculture to be eligible to vote—see registration forms enclosed.
The Missouri Department of Agriculture is holding a referendum to add a new beef checkoff tax. If passed, all cattle sold in Missouri will be assessed an additional $1 a head checkoff with the proceeds going to the Missouri Beef Industry Council (MBIC). And, the only way to stop it is for Missouri cattle producers to register to vote before March 4th (registration forms are enclosed). If you have registered by March 4th, the Missouri Department of Agriculture will send you a ballot on April 4th.
We are in a cattle market crisis right now with feeder calves having lost up to 45% of their value between September and December (according to the Livestock Marketing Association) with no foreseeable end in sight. What is the response by the MBIC? They want us to give them $2 million more every year. They want a 200% raise? We should say no to this money grab.
Please fill out the enclosed registration form and reach out to other producers in your area that oppose the checkoff. Note: you will be asked to provide three years of cattle sales on this form—We must not let this rule deter us from registering and voting to stop this checkoff.
According to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, anyone who has a shared interest in your cattle sales—including your spouse, son, daughter or business partner—can register to vote in this referendum. Each person can fill out separate registration forms and list the number of cattle sales that represent each person’s share in the business. For example, a husband and wife who marketed 50 head of cattle could each register and report 25 head of cattle marketed.
Here are ways you can register:
 We’ve included registration forms—fill them out and send them to the Missouri Department of Agriculture c/o Missouri Beef Referendum, P.O. Box 630, Jefferson City, MO 65102; or
 Go to agriculture.mo.gov and register online or print a form; or
 Call the Missouri Department of Ag at (573) 751-5633 and ask to have a registration form mailed to you; or
 Pick up a registration form at your county FSA office.
If you need additional registration forms or have any questions:
 Call the Missouri Rural Crisis Center at (573) 449-1336.
 We can email, mail or fax you a registration form(s).
All Registration Forms Must Be Postmarked by March 4th.
Paid for by the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, Roger Allison, Executive Director, 1108 Rangeline Street, Columbia, MO 65201
Here are some key facts about why we oppose the state beef checkoff:
 There are no rules that this checkoff slush fund will be used to promote Missouri beef. The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association successfully lobbied to remove the “promote Missouri beef” language from the bill. And, our federal checkoff dollars are already being used to promote foreign beef in U.S. markets.
 There is no sunset clause on this beef checkoff. Once these programs are put into place, they are virtually impossible to get rid of. So, as cattle prices continue to decline, producers will still be paying the extra $2 million+ every year.
 The vast majority of current federal checkoff dollars end up in the coffers of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) that consistently supports policies favoring corporate meatpackers (even foreign-owned meatpackers) at the expense of Missouri’s independent cattle producers. The NCBA successfully lobbied to end Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and supports corporate packer ownership of livestock which drives down producer farm-gate prices.
 The Missouri Beef Industry Council ignored its own hand-picked “Missouri Beef Checkoff Taskforce” that voted to request a $.50 per head state checkoff instead of $1 on August 26th. Instead, the MBIC requested $1/head anyway—another clear example of the no accountability attitude of the Missouri Beef Industry Council.
 Supporters claim that there will be some way to get a refund after the fact, so they try to call this a “voluntary” program. In reality, cattle producers are forced to pay into this program by having the money taken out of their cattle sales checks before they even get them. If the fee is not paid when due, a penalty shall apply and the attorney general can sue cattle producers for the collection of checkoff fees and penalties. It doesn’t get any more mandatory than that. A complicated, time-consuming refund process does not eliminate this mandate to pay.
 This new checkoff would mean the state government would be collecting another $2.2 million from Missouri beef producers every year and giving our money to the Missouri Beef Industry Council (MBIC), an unaccountable private entity that says it has “no obligation to disclose documents” about how our money is spent.
 The only way to stop this new checkoff tax is for independent cattle producers to say “NO”, otherwise starting in July, we will be paying over $4 million every year in beef checkoff fees.
Please register to vote today—
your vote could make the difference.

Federal Government Employee tells Miner that His Authority Supersedes the Constitution!

The Bureau of Land Management have been acting tyrannically for decades. As an unconstitutional agency, we have seen them in recent years not only violating the Constitution and the rights of the people, but we’ve also seen them take an armed violent stand against ranchers, both in Nevada and Oregon. All of it is unlawful. I want to share story that I ran across concerning two BLM employees and a miner in Idaho from 2012 during some research on the BLM. In a confrontation with the BLM, the Idaho miner asked, “You are telling me that you supersede the Constitution of the united States?” The BLM employee smugly replied, “Yes, I do.”

Nicole Crossman, one of the founders of the South West Idaho Mining Association, and her husband John, along with some others were at the family’s camp on July 11th, 2012 when they were approached by two BLM employees, who were identified as Ann Marie Sharkey and Jeff Weiss.

Video evidence, which has now been removed and another video made private, shows what seems to be a friendly encounter between the employees and the Crossmans. However, once Sharkey spotted mining incident tools, she demanded that Mrs. Crossman produce identification. The text of the conversation comes from Mrs. Crossman.

Crossman did not comply, but rather asked Sharkey what he law enforcement status was. Sharkey claimed to be a federal BLM agent, but when asked to get her supervisor out to where they were, Sharkey called the Sheriff’s Department on her radio and claimed that she owned the Crossman’s claim by way of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), which is an unconstitutional act.

Mrs. Crossman then informed Sharkey that she was now trespassing on a federal mining claim to which the agent demanded to see her mining corner posts, signs and notices.

“You are more than welcome to go and find them if you are so concerned of that, but the notice of location is located in that tree over there,” Crossman replied.

The conversation then began to get even more heated.

“Ma’am, this is public land with a 14 day stay limit on it,” said Sharkey. “How much longer do you think you will be staying?  The rest of the weekend?”

“I am not sure,” replied Crossman. “And this is actually public domain once I entered it to prospect.  Especially because I have a claim here!”

Sharkey was having none of that. “This is public land,” she said.

“It was public land,” said Crossman. “It is now Public domain.  Are you familiar with laws that have granted me to be entitled to this public domain?”

Sharkey snidely replied that she was familiar with the laws and when asked which ones, she said “The 1800 one.”

“There isn’t an 1800 mining law,” retorted Crossman.

BLM UnconstituionalThen Sharkey made the absolutely ridiculous claim of ownership.

“I own and manage all of these minerals you are trying to mine for,” she said.  “I need to identify who I am speaking with. ID?”

Crossman asked, “You are telling me that you supersede the Constitution of the united States?”

Sharkey replied, “Yes, I do.”

Crossman then educates Sharkey that she is aware of the law and of a BLM agent’s status.

“No, you are a surface management agency, and what we are doing is extracting minerals from a SUB-surface area,” she said.

When Sharkey threatened Crossman with arrest for not showing her ID, Crossman said, “You don’t have that authority, you are a code enforcement, not a law enforcement officer.”

“No,” Sharkey shot back. “I am a federal agent and I get my authority from the FLPMA.”

Even the Sheriff of the county would not stop what was going on and sent her to Ada County Jail.

The claim by the BLM agent and the Sheriff is that Mrs. Crossman was charged with obstruction, but they never said what she was obstructing.

John Crossman believes that what helped his wife was that she had her law binder that South West Idaho Mining Association (SWIMA) put together. Mrs. Crossman also happens to be a secretary for SWIMA.

BLM ThievesAs we have learned, no one is required to produce identification unless a crime has been committed or one is in the process of committing a crime. No crime was being committed and if Ms. Sharkey had actually known what was going on, she would have known Crossman had a lawful claim to the minerals on the land. She didn’t. Not only is she an unconstitutional agent in an unconstitutional agency, but she overstepped the bounds that even that requires!

One person in the American Mining Law Forum pointed to a 2011 Idaho Code which actually demonstrates the Ms. Sharkey is the one in violation of the law. On top of that, the penalty for Ms. Sharkey would be a fine not exceeding $5,000 and imprisonment in the county jail for no longer than one year.

One thing is for sure, this is exactly why counties need good, constitutional sheriffs to deal with these out of control, criminal and unconstitutional agents and the agencies for which they work.

Sadly, even after Crossman had done no wrong, she accepted a public defender, followed that person’s advice and pled guilty and was convicted by her own admission, according to a post dated November 28, 2014.

UPDATE: We spoke to John Crossman by phone following the publishing of this article. He told us that the quotes above and the full text of the confrontation, which was placed on the sites linked to in this article, are a matter of public record and were part of their court case. He also said that the charges of obstruction were dropped to a snow mobile infraction and they were fined $56. Crossman went on to explain that the cost of pursuing things further was more than they were able to bear and so that is why they took the deal.

I can understand that. It’s a shame that in the land of the free and home of the brave, a nation of law, that justice has to cost so much money.

Wonders never cease. Missouri AG joined a suit against the EPA’s power expanding definition re-write. Article below with link to the original in the title:

Koster sues EPA over new “waters” rule

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Attorney General Chris Koster has waded into a debate about the federal definition of “waterways” and he isn’t the only Missourian weighing in.

Koster has signed Missouri onto a lawsuit with 12 other states against the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers over the agencies’ rule defining “waters of the United States.” Koster’s office says the new rule expands the scope of clean water regulations to lands without much water at all, and increases the federal government’s authority to “control land use in Missouri.”

“The EPA and the Army Corps have exceeded their legal authority in defining what constitutes U.S. waterways,” Koster said in a statement.  “If this change becomes law, thousands of acres of privately owned land in Missouri will suddenly be subject to federal water regulation.  Missouri farmers will be particularly harmed by the federal government’s restrictions on how their land can be used.”

Koster says the agencies’ official definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) extends their authority to include “ponds, streams that flow only briefly during or after rainstorms, and channels that are usually dry.” The definition also expands to floodpains, even if the plains are dry 99 years out of 100, Koster says.

The lawsuit is filed in United States District Court for the District of North Dakota and “seeks an order declaring the rule is unlawful and prohibiting the agencies from implementing it.” The rule takes effect in 60 days with no such court order.

Blake Hurst, President of the Missouri farm Bureau, publicly applauded Koster’s suit.

“We applaud Attorney General Koster for filing this lawsuit against EPA and hope the courts will act quickly to halt implementation of the WOTUS rule as the issue works its way through the legal system.  The EPA is guilty of a massive overreach, and we fully expect the courts will once again instruct the EPA to follow the intent of Congress.”

Congressman Jason Smith, R-MO8, has also focused his attention on the WOTUS issue. Last April, Smith added language to HR 2028 to keep the EPA from using any funds to implement the new rule. The bill passed the House, along with another piece of legislation in May with a similar prohibition on the rule.

“The administration is telling us that this rule won’t affect property owners and farmers, and that’s an absolute lie,” Smith said in a statement. “The Obama administration has misled the American people too many times to get the benefit of the doubt on something this important.”

http://www.meatingplace.com/Industry/News/Details/55766?loginSuccess

Livestock manure can be regulated as solid waste: federal court

By Chris Scott on 1/19/2015

A federal court has for the first time opened the door for livestock manure to be regulated as solid waste under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

Judge Thomas Rice of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington ruled that the Cow Palace Dairy in Washington State polluted local ground water by spreading manure over the soil. The case is expected to go to trial in March to determine the scope and possible remedies to the situation, although an attorney representing the dairy operation plans to appeal the ruling, according to Reuters.

Judge Rice ruled that Cow Palace applied more manure than was necessary to fertilize the affected soil, violating the “open dumping” statute of the provision. The act calls for violators to stop polluting and also clean up damage the dumping may have caused.

The ruling is important because it could affect legal challenges to the practices at thousands of livestock facilities across the country, according to an attorney representing a collection of public advocacy groups, Reuters reported.

The case is Community Association For Restoration Of The Environment, Inc. et al v. Cow Palace, LLC et al, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, No. 13-CV-3016.

Virtually all property rights proponents are extremely aware of the impending EPA rule that will basically give the EPA regulatory authority over ditches and ponds regardless of location within the borders of the United States. It is an oft tried tactic of agencies where they enlarge and extrapolate their authority well beyond the scope of the act that gives them authority to regulate certain areas of our lives.

The EPA has been forced to extend their comment period on this rule and elected officials at all levels of government are voicing strong opposition to this proposed rule. Evidently, the only people agencies have the least bit of inclination to listen to are those who can exert control on their budget.

This following link has a video from the largest organization of county level elected officials. Please share it with any other state and local officials that might be interested in standing against this onerous (and dangerous) proposed rule.

 

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.”

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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.