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MO voters to face parks question in Aug., veterans question in Nov.

By Ap/KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – It will be a busy year for Missouri voters this year in terms of ballot questions. Aside from six citizen-initiated ballot questions under consideration, lawmakers have also put a few questions on the ballot.

The House voted 150-0 on Thursday to put a question to voters that asks whether veterans organizations should be exempted from real and personal property taxes. (The Senate had passed the measure previously)

The constitutional amendment would put such groups in the same standing as religious organizations, churches, and schools.

The proposal will appear on the November ballot unless Gov. Matt Blunt uses his power to set it for an earlier election.

PARKS TAX

That power is just what Blunt exercised Thursday in putting another tax question on the August ballot. This one would renew a parks and soils sales tax.

Blunt said putting the parks question in August will keep it off a potentially crowded November ballot.

Blunt exercised his gubernatorial prerogative to pick an election date on Thursday, just a few days after supporters of six citizen initiatives turned in petition signatures to try to get their measures on the November ballot.

The renewal of the one-tenth of a percent sales tax was referred to a 2006 ballot when legislators passed a resolution last year.

"This is an issue a majority of Missouri voters are already familiar with and likely have already decided how they will cast their ballot," Blunt said in a written statement. "This move will allow them to analyze more thoroughly the numerous ballot questions that could appear on the November ballot in addition to the candidates for various federal, state and local offices."

Half the roughly $78 million in annual revenues from the state sales tax goes to state parks and historic sites. The other half goes soil and water conservation efforts.

Missouri voters first narrowly approved the tax 1984, and it has been extended twice since then after being placed on the ballot by initiative petition drives, which involve gathering thousands of signatures. The tax extension passed both of those times by about two-thirds of the vote. The tax is due to expire in 2008.

If voters extend the tax in the Aug. 8 election, it automatically would go on the ballot every 10 years thereafter for renewal, eliminating the need for further legislative action or initiative petition drives.

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