Here are the 6 questions on Missouri's November ballot, so far | St. Louis Public Radio

Here are the 6 questions on Missouri's November ballot, so far

Aug 31, 2016

So far, Missouri voters will decide six ballot questions this fall. The deadline for issues to be certified for the Nov. 8 ballot was Aug. 30.

That number could rise to seven if a judge rules to validate about 2,200 more signatures gathered for a proposal to allow the medical use of marijuana.

Conservation Tax

At the top of the list is Constitutional Amendment 1. It would renew the state's soil and water conservation tax. Revenue from the 1/10th-cent sales tax generates around $90 million a year and is used to fund Missouri's state park system and historic sites, as well as soil and water conservation efforts.  If Amendment 1 passes, the tax would be levied for another 10 years.

The proposals further down the ballot get more controversial.

Campaign contribution limits

Amendment 2 would restore campaign contribution limits.  For example, anyone running for a state office, such as governor, attorney general or the legislature, could not receive more than $2,600 total from the same donor during an individual election. State Sen. David Pearce of Warrensburg, who is one of the few Republican lawmakers who support restoring donation limits, says the current system is not working.

"Right now there is no limit," Pearce said.  "We have seen $250,000 checks, $500,000 checks, (and) million-dollar checks, and I think it really pollutes the political process. We started with this experiment in 2009 to take all the limits off and just to make everything transparent, and I think we've seen (that) the grand experiment is not working."

But fellow Republican, House member Jay Barnes of Jefferson City, told reporters earlier this year that restoring limits would lead to candidates funneling donations through multiple committees.

Credit (via Flickr/hlkljgk)

"All they would do is wash the money through committees; that is what happened in the past," Barnes said.  "That is what you saw, I believe there is a video, of checks being passed at the Missouri State Fair from 2007 — you guys can go look it up — it was both parties doing it, both parties were guilty, and that's what campaign finance limits end up with."

Amendment 2 was recently challenged because it would also ban some companies, namely banks and rural electric cooperatives, from making any campaign donations at all. But it withstood that court challenge.

Cigarette tax #1

Missouri's cigarette tax would go up by as much as $1.27 a pack under  Amendment 3. The money raised would go to fund early childhood education programs. Currently, the tax is 17-cents-a-pack.

The proposal is sometimes referred to as the "Raise Your Hand for Kids" measure, after the group that backed the petition drive, and it's estimated to generate $300 million in revenue when fully implemented.

St. Louis attorney Jane Dueker has supported the proposal in court.

"If a public school doesn't currently have (an) early childhood (program) in their district, they could apply to get money and get that, whereas now they can't get that from the legislature," Dueker said. "The legislature isn't going to fund the formula for early childhood, or they would have already done it."

Opponents argue that some of the money raised would go to private and parochial schools; plus, some potential supporters have been turned off because Raise Your Hand for Kids is funded by the parent company of cigarette maker R.J. Reynolds. Dueker says that fact is irrelevant.

"I don't have to trust Big Tobacco and their motives because I can look at the words of the amendment and know that this is what our kids need," she said. "While they may be contributing money, the language (in the amendment) speaks for itself."

No service taxes

Amendment 4 is a lot less controversial, for now, anyway.  It would ban sales and use taxes on any service that was not already being taxed as of Jan. 1, 2015.

In other words, it would ban the state and local governments alike from levying sales taxes on such things as haircuts, day care, doctor visits and having your lawn mowed. Scott Charton is spokesman for the group Missourians for Fair Taxation, which is sponsoring the amendment.

"Services are activities, as opposed to tangible goods … they’re not currently taxed, and Amendment 4 would keep it that way," Charton said. "The threat is real, because new sales taxes on services have been proposed in the last seven sessions of the Missouri legislature.

He continued, "Just this year our neighboring states of Oklahoma and Illinois have talked about new taxes on services to close big budget holes, (and) North Carolina and Washington ... have started imposing new sales taxes on services. Politicians often share bad ideas."

Charton describes the amendment as a pre-emptive move. So far, there’s no organized opposition.

Photo voter ID

The most controversial measure by far is one that seeks to reinstate the requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls. Missouri passed a photo voter ID law 10 years ago, but it was tossed out by the state Supreme Court.

Amendment 6 would allow for a photo ID requirement, which would then be implemented by a separate bill. And that bill would likely be HB 1631, which was vetoed earlier this year by Gov. Jay Nixon. But, it could be overridden by lawmakers during the September veto session, which is just two weeks away.

Cigarette tax #2

Finally, there is Proposition A, which would change state law as opposed to the constitution itself. It would gradually raise Missouri's cigarette tax by 23 cents a pack, with the new revenues being set aside for roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure.

It contains language, though, saying the extra tax would automatically be repealed if any new proposed cigarette tax appears on a local or statewide ballot. When asked if that means it would be repealed if the Raise Your Hand for Kids proposal also passes, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State's office said, "That would be a question for the courts to decide."

Tuesday was the deadline for the secretary of state's office to officially notify local governments of a pending election, meaning that any changes to the ballot, including both candidates and ballot questions, now require a court order. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport