Raise Your Hand for Kids | St. Louis Public Radio

Raise Your Hand for Kids

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After leading the fight to get the proposed tobacco tax increase known as Proposition A on the ballot, Ron Leone is forsaking that proposal so he can focus on defeating its rival.

“We’ve had to leave the fate of Proposition A to the gods,” said Leone, executive director of Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Stores. “Our entire focus of our resources and our effort has been to defeat Amendment 3.”

File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Sept. 20 with high court ruling – Within the past 24 hours, the Missouri Supreme Court has taken actions guaranteeing that two disputed ballot initiatives will go before voters in November.

The most recent action came Tuesday afternoon, when the High Court unanimously ruled in favor of Amendment 3, which would raise Missouri's cigarette tax by as much as $1.27 a pack.  It would use the proceeds to fund early childhood education programs, and would bring in an estimated $300 million a year.

Curran | Flickr

If an initiative’s ballot title promises free puppies to all voters, but its language actually calls for expanding puppy mills, should the proposal be allowed to remain on the ballot?

That question, posed Thursday by a judge on the Missouri Supreme Court, gets at the heart of the court fight to decide whether a proposal to increase Missouri’s tobacco tax by $1.27 a pack can remain on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Both sides argued before the high court early Thursday. A ruling is expected within days.

(via Flickr/hlkljgk)

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.

The Rev. Starsky Wilson speaks at a news conference on Tuesday in favor of a tobacco tax increase for early childhood education and health care.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missourians could weigh in this fall on four ballot initiatives that Secretary of State Jason Kander certified on Tuesday. But the tally of items could potentially constrict, depending on what courts decide in the coming weeks.

Courtney Curtis
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum is joined by colleague Stephanie Lecci and St. Louis American reporter Rebecca Rivas. The trio welcomed state Rep. Courtney Curtis to the show for the first time.

The Ferguson Democrat won a competitive primary last week for re-election. Because winning the Democratic primary in his north St. Louis County-based district is tantamount to election, Curtis will likely get to serve a third term in the Missouri House after 2017.

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Updated July 26 with new lawsuit filings – Opponents of a ballot initiative to raise Missouri's cigarette tax have filed two new lawsuits designed to stop it from appearing on the November ballot.

The first new suit was filed Friday by Joplin convenience store owner Patty Arrowood.  She contends that the ballot initiative would appropriate state funding, which only the legislature can do, and also allow religious groups to receive state revenues.

Curran | Flickr

The Missouri Supreme Court has rejected a request that it weigh in on a lawsuit against a proposed tobacco tax increase.

The court's decision could kill off the initiative-petition effort to get the proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

Flickr/SuperFantastic

The Missouri Supreme Court is expected to decide as soon as today whether to consider the fate of a proposed tobacco tax increase that backers hope to get on the November ballot.

Secretary of State Jason Kander’s office made the request late Tuesday, after an appeals court declined to reconsider its ruling last week that could kill the proposed constitutional amendment.

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seannaber | Flickr

A Missouri appeals court will hear arguments Thursday in a case that could result in a proposed cigarette tax increases being kicked off the November ballot.

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G.Arands | Flickr | Creative Commons license

Updated with MNEA decision - One of two ballot initiatives that would increase Missouri’s cigarette tax may be in trouble. A Cole County judge has said the fiscal note on a 60-cent-a-pack proposal overestimates the revenue that would be raised. He has directed the auditor to review the projection, and that would invalidate the petitions turned in by Raise Your Hand for Kids.

The organization has said it will appeal.

Curran | Flickr

For all the talk about increasing Missouri’s tobacco tax to provide more money for education and transportation, the state’s two dueling tobacco-tax proposals appear caught in a longstanding dispute that has nothing to do with their objectives.

Tobacco companies are the chief donors to both initiative-petition campaigns that seek to increase the state’s 17-cent-a-pack tobacco tax, now the nation’s lowest. One would raise the tax by 23 cents a pack to pay for transportation improvements, while the other would hike the tax by 60 cents a pack to pay for early childhood programs.