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Breaking down the ballot

| Senior News Editor

This election day, Missouri voters will be deciding on a number of issues more than just who will be the next president or governor. Amendments that may make it into the state constitution, concerning issues from cigarette taxes to voter identification requirements, are on the ballot this time around but have not been discussed to nearly the same extent as the big-ticket items. Find out the details of the down ballot items below.

On the amendments

Amendment 1: Soils and Water Conservation Sales Tax

Continuing an already existent sales tax that raises money for the operation of the state park system and water conservation, Amendment 1 if passed will renew the 0.1 percent tax over a 10-year term. The current tax brings in about $90 million annually. Gov. Jay Nixon is among the amendment’s supporters. Due to text in the original amendment, it must be reapproved by voters at the end of each 10-year term. As such, the amendment has already been approved in 1988, 1996 and 2006. If Amendment 1 is not approved in 2016, it will not appear on future ballots.

Amendment 2: Campaign Contribution Reform Initiative

Corporations are donating millions of dollars into Missouri state campaigns, and this amendment is an attempt to limit these contributions in elections. Such limits were approved in 1994, and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000, but removed entirely by the legislature by 2008. The measure would forbid all contributions from labor unions and corporations aside from political action committees and prevent individuals from hiding where or who donations come from.

Amendment 3: Cigarette Tax for Early Childhood Health and Education

Amendment 3 has drawn vocal support and opposition and is the only item on the Missouri ballot that Wash. U. has taken a public stance on—one of opposition due to its restrictive language concerning stem cell research. The amendment increases the cigarette tax to create a fund— estimated to be around $300 million annually—specifically allocated to enhancing early childhood education in Missouri. However, the amendment is not that simple. It faces heavy opposition from groups who claim that the amendment itself was drafted to protect the tobacco industry from higher tax increases in coming years, and research shows that a tax increase of this nature will not be effective in curtailing smoking use.

Reynolds American, Inc., owner of Camel, Newport and Pall Mall supports the amendment, and organizations such as the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association in Missouri, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Missouri National Education Foundation are in opposition.

Amendment 4: Prohibition of New Sales/Use Taxes

This measure would preemptively prevent Missouri from restructuring its tax revenue system. Some states have considered implementing taxes on services that had been previously nontaxable in an effort to shift to a tax-by-consumption model, which some argue is more rational than income tax, which is thought to reduce incentive. No current proposals to change the tax system in Missouri exist, but this amendment prevents such discussions from taking place in the future.

Amendment 6: Voter ID Requirement Amendment

Another controversial amendment, one that would require voters by law to present a valid government-issued photo identification. It is designed to prevent voter fraud, which Missouri has had very few cases of in recent years. Those in opposition to the amendment claim it is an effort to prevent lower income voters—those with restricted access to government identifications that cost money and time to obtain—from casting their ballots.

Proposition A: Cigarette, Tobacco and Nicotine Tax Increase

This is the second proposed cigarette tax increase on the ballot, and it conflicts with Amendment 3. In fact, the explicit goal of those supporting this amendment is to undermine Amendment 3. Rather than increase by $0.15 each year, Proposition A would raise the tax by 13 cents in its first year (2017) and then by 5 cents in 2019 and again in 2021. It is supported mostly by smaller cigarette companies, as opposed to Amendment 3, which is supported by bigger companies. Money from this tax, however, would only be used to fund transportation infrastructure projects. Like Amendment 3, groups like the American Heart Association and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids oppose the proposition. If both of the proposed cigarette taxes do come to pass, whichever garners the most votes will be implemented.