Missouri's Aug. 5 primary ballot includes several Constitutional amendments, but none has been as contentious as Amendment 7, the transportation tax proposal.
The transportation tax amendment would impose a 0.75 percent increase on the state sales and use tax for up to 10 years to fund transportation projects. That tax is now 4.225 percent and is distributed into four funds: general revenue, conservation, education and parks. St. Louis Public Radio reporter Jason Rosenbaum recently answered five questions about the amendment.
Tom Shrout of Missourians for Better Transportation Solutions, which opposes the amendment, and Jewell Patek of Missourians for Better Transportation and Jobs, which supports it, joined us Thursday to discuss the amendment.
Supporters say the amendment is the best way to raise funds, at least $500 million a year, to pay for needed transportation improvements. Critics say there are better ways to raise the money, and say a sales tax hurts low-income people the most.
Missouri's other amendments
St. Louis Public Radio political reporter Chris McDaniel and statehouse reporter Marshall Griffin joined us Thursday to take a closer look at these amendments.
Amendment 1: The right to farm amendment would guarantee Missouri farmers and ranchers the right to raise crops and livestock.
Supporters say it guarantees farmers can engage in their livelihood without too much interference from the government and animal-rights groups. Opponents say it will help large corporate farms and could block state and local laws on water and air pollution.
Amendment 5: The right to bear arms measure would establish an "unalienable right" to keep and bear arms, ammunition and accessories, while allowing the state to limit the possession of arms by convicted felons and the mentally ill.
Supporters say the amendment would strengthen the right to bear arms and would set a higher standard for gun laws. Opponents say it is redundant (the U.S. Constitution and the Missouri Constitution include the right to bear arms) and will make it more difficult to regulate guns and gun violence.
Amendment 8: If the veterans lottery ticket amendment is approved, the net proceeds from a special Missouri Lottery ticket would go to the state's veterans' commission capital improvement trust fund. Missouri has seven state veterans' homes that provide long-term nursing care.
Supporters say the lottery sales will give Missouri veterans' homes a dedicated source of funds. There is no active opposition, however, a state lawmaker criticized the proposal earlier this year, calling it an inefficient way to fund veterans' needs.
Amendment 9: The Missouri Constitution already protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures of "papers, homes and effects," and states that a search warrant requires probable cause and a description of the person, place or thing to be seized. The electronic protection amendment would add electronic data, like emails, texts and tweets, to the list of protected material. On June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police cannot search information on a seized cellphone without a warrant; the Missouri amendment also would cover computers and laptops.
Supporters say the amendment is a logical update to the Constitution. Like Amendment 8, there is no active opposition, but a few House Democrats earlier this year voiced concerns over whether changing the Constitution was necessary in order to protect emails and other electronic data.