By Dwight Widaman
The ads on television, newspapers, radio and the internet are numerous and confusing. Each side in the debates over Tuesday’s Missouri Amendments to the State Constitution sound reasonable. But are they? Here’s what we think.
Amendment 1 (HJR 11) â€¨
“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?”
While on the surface it sounds great (I mean who doesn’t want Missouri farmers to be able to continue to make the U.S. the bread basket of the world?) the wording of the amendment is so vague that, ultimately, court challenges will bring the amendment to the court system where a judge, or most likely the Supreme Court, will decide what the intent is. The Missouri legislature could have done a much better job in wording the amendment in a way which truly does protect farmers from the abuses of both government and radical groups who want to shut down farming. Sadly, they’ve created a confusing situation in which most people don’t know how to vote.
Until the legislature can stop playing politics with our farms, the Metro Voice recommends a “NO” vote on Amendment 1.â€¨â€¨
Amendment 5 (SJR 36) â€¨
“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?”
This boils down to States Rights vs. Federal Authority issue. Missourians who vote “yes” will not be harmed by this amendment but do we really need amendments spelling out what are clearly rights established by the Constitution? There are many more serious issues where Federal authority is undermining the authority of the States. If we were to amend the Constitution to cover each and every area, we would be here a VERY long time.
The Metro Voice recommends a “NO” vote on Amendment #5.â€¨â€¨
Amendment 7 (HJR 68) â€¨
“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?”
Read the fine print. The largest tax increase in Missouri history will not only fund new roads but also: airport runways, costly mass transit, bike and walking trails in our state’s wealthiest suburbs and a lot of infrastructure that has nothing to do with public safety and transportation. It is a blank check for the legislature to spend $5 Billion over 10 years any way they choose. Considering they begged Missouri to pass additional funding 30 years ago and STILL failed to give voters the safe roads they promised, there is little hope things have changed and this money will also be wasted by Jefferson City bureaucrats.
The Metro Voice recommends a “NO” vote on amendment #7.â€¨â€¨
Amendment 8 (HJR 48) â€¨
“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?”
Two words: BAD IDEA. Gambling money has supposedly gone to education for 20 years but, as we know, the state just decreases the amount of money from general revenues by the amount coming in from gambling. That’s why the state has cut education funding for several years. Gambling revenue was down. Who gets caught in the middle? Children. If we care about our veterans, lets fund their support through a system that does not rely on the whims of problem gamblers. Funding any state function with gambling is a disgrace and we are paying the price for its failure.
Metro Voice recommends a “NO” vote on Amendment #8.â€¨â€¨
Amendment 9 (SJR 27)
“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?” Do you like how the government is looking into your emails, Facebook and recording your calls? State law enforcement has slowly, yet increasingly, been eager to assume the same bad habits of the Federal government. This law will prevent state and local law enforcement from spying on citizens. If law enforcement wants to spy on suspected criminals that’s fineâ€”there’s a legal process through the courts to do so. They’ll just need to get a search warrant for the bad guys and leave the rest of us to enjoy our Constitutionally protected freedoms from unreasonable search and seizures.
The Metro Voice recommends a “YES” vote on Amendment 9.