Why to vote ‘No’ on Amendment 3, Props A and E, ‘Yes’ on Prop B

While most of you who will be voting tomorrow have probably decided which candidates you’re going to vote for, if you’re voting in Missouri there are four ballot measures you should also carefully consider (not counting Proposition R for those of you in the City of St. Louis). Here’s our take on these four initiatives.

Amendment 3: “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to change the current nonpartisan selection of supreme court and court of appeals judges to a process that gives the governor increased authority to: appoint a majority of the commission that selects these court nominees; and appoint all lawyers to the commission by removing the requirement that the governor’s appointees be nonlawyers?”

Our vote: No.

The job of any judge is to interpret and enforce laws. Injecting any sort of politics into the selection of judges not only complicates matters but also creates an unfair judicial system. Under the current system, the governor can appoint three of seven members of the commission that appoints Missouri Supreme Court justices. This amendment would allow him to appoint four members of the committee, constituting a majority. This would effectively allow the governor to control judicial appointments instead of allowing a nonpartisan board to do so.

Proposition A: “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to: allow any city not within a county (the City of St. Louis) the option of transferring certain obligations and control of the city’s police force from the board of police commissioners currently appointed by the governor to the city and establishing a municipal police force; establish certain procedures and requirements for governing such a municipal police force…and prohibit retaliation against any employee of such municipal police force who reports conduct believed to be illegal to a superior, government agency, or the press? State governmental entities estimated savings will eventually be up to $500,000 annually. Local governmental entities estimated annual potential savings of $3.5 million….”

Our vote: No.

Though very confusingly worded, this proposition would effectively transfer oversight of police operations in St. Louis and a few other areas from state-controlled boards to local officials. While there may be some cost savings to be had in this, it would open the door to a great deal of potential corruption and remove transparency from police oversight. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, if this proposition were passed, internal police investigations and their results would no longer be a matter of public record, leaving the public in the dark on such matters.

Proposition B: “Shall Missouri law be amended to: create the Health and Education Trust Fund with proceeds of a tax of $0.0365 per cigarette and 25% of the manufacturer’s invoice price for roll-your-own tobacco and 15% for other tobacco products; use Fund proceeds to reduce and prevent tobacco use and for elementary, secondary, college, and university public school funding; and increase the amount that certain tobacco product manufacturers must maintain in their escrow accounts, to pay judgments or settlements, before any funds in escrow can be refunded to the tobacco product manufacturer and create bonding requirements for these manufacturers? Estimated additional revenue to state government is $283 million to $423 million annually….”

Our vote: Yes, but with some dissent.

Cigarettes cause a vast array of health problems and any sort of tax that limits their use either through the education of young people or by reducing demand for them is an excellent idea. Missouri also has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation at 17 cents and the tax revenue will benefit Missouri’s education system.

Proposition E: “Shall Missouri Law be amended to prohibit the Governor or any state agency from establishing or operating state-based health insurance exchanges unless authorized by a vote of the people or by the legislature? No direct costs or savings for state and local government entities are expected from this proposal….”

Our vote: No.

Though it may appear that this proposition is a statewide, wholesale rejection of Obamacare, this is not the case. This proposition does only one thing: prevent the governor from creating a health insurance exchange program for Missouri residents. Under Obamacare, all states are obligated to create a health insurance exchange (essentially a big market for health care in which individuals can shop for insurance), and if a state fails to do so, the federal government creates one in that state. So the only thing this referendum will do is prevent the governor from creating this exchange, which is hardly logical, and fuel right-wing proponents who think this may somehow allow them to block Obamacare.

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