Tomorrow voters will go to the polls. There are several ballot measures that could impact Missouri farmers and ranchers.
Here is a breakdown of a few and how the state's largest farm organization stands on the issues:
Amendment 1 ("Clean Missouri" redistricting legislative districts). This amendment would change the process for redrawing state legislative districts. It would also limit campaign contributions and gifts, and it would prohibit state legislators from serving as paid lobbyists for a period of time.
Currently, the Missouri house and senate commissions redraw boundaries, and those maps are adopted if 70% of the commissioners approve the maps. The proposed amendment relies on a state demographer chosen from a panel selected by the state auditor to redraw the boundaries and submit those maps to the House and Senate commissions.
Missouri Farm Bureau take: Amendment 1 would require voters from urban and suburban areas to be joined with rural voters in massively contorted districts. "Clean Missouri" would do little to change the political divide in Jefferson City, but it would have a major detrimental impact on our state. Gerrymandered districts would split up communities, harm rural citizens' representation, and ensure political parties and consultants gain even more power over the process. Missouri needs ethics reforms, but this particular proposal causes far more harm than good. The organization opposes the measure.
Amendment 2 (Medical marijuana). This amendment allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes and creates regulations and licensing and certification procedures for marijuana and marijuana facilities. It also imposes a 4% tax on the retail sale of marijuana. The funds will be used for health and care services for military veterans. According to the Missouri Secretary of State office, the proposal will generate annual taxes and fees of $18 million for state operating costs and veterans' programs, and $6 million for local governments. Annual state operating costs are estimated to be $7 million.
Missouri Farm Bureau take: Drug abuse is a significant problem in Missouri and across the United States. Increasing the supply of unregulated drugs to our society would have detrimental impacts to rural communities.
Amendment 3 (Medical marijuana oversight). Would allow for the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. This amendment also makes the initiative petition contact person, Brad Bradshaw, the research chair of a newly created research institute funded by feeds and taxes of medical marijuana.
Missouri Farm Bureau take: Oppose.
Proposition B (Increase minimum wage). This proposition would increase the state minimum wage to $8.60 per hour, with 85 cents per hour increase until 2023:
• $8.60 per hour beginning January 1, 2019
• $9.45 per hour in 2020
• $10.30 per hour in 2021
• $11.15 per hour in 2022
• $12.00 per hour in 2023
The state minimum wage maxes out at $12. It would also exempt government employees from the increase. And penalize employers for paying less than the set minimum wage.
Missouri Farm Bureau take: Mandating wage increases of 53% will have a huge detrimental impact on small employers and farms. It will ultimately hurt those it was intended to help, as employers will be forced to lay off workers or automate jobs due to excessive labor costs. Its members oppose Proposition B.
Proposition C (Legalizing medical marijuana). The third marijuana legalization initiatives on the ballot. This would also allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Prop C creates licensing fees for facilities. It imposes a 2% tax on the retail sale of marijuana by facilities. These funds go to the Division of Liquor Control to administer the license and certification process.
Missouri Farm Bureau take: Oppose.
Proposition D (Fuel tax). This proposition would increase the motor fuel tax by 2 ½ cents per gallon every year for four years beginning in July 2019. If passed, it will generate $288 million annually for the State Road Fund for law enforcement funding and $123 million to local governments for road construction and maintenance.
Current state fuel tax is 17 cents per gallon. It would increase to:
• 19.5 cents in 2019
• 22 cents in 2020
• 24.5 cents 2021
• 27 cents in 2022
Missouri Farm Bureau take: Missouri has the seventh-largest road system in the nation but are 46th in funding per mile. Proposition D would generate over $400 million annually for Missouri's roads and bridges through a reasonable, phased-in plan. Cities and counties would have complete local control over $120 million of these funds annually, fairly distributed between urban and rural counties. Whether it is for getting goods to market or our children to school, Missouri Farm Bureau members recognize the need for additional funding for Missouri's transportation system, and are in support of Proposition D.
Go online to read more about all of the measures before voting Nov. 6.