By Kjersti McDonald
November 6th is approaching fast, and I’ve come to the realization that most people aren’t entrenched in politics like I am, as an organizer involved in advocacy work.
That’s why I’m putting together my recommendations for how to vote on the various ballot measures for Missouri’s midterm election, along with some resources you can scour to inform your own vote.
I won’t go into candidate races, but PLEASE, for the love of RBG, look into who is running in your district and research their stances on the issues you care about.
Amendment 1: YES
If nothing else – if you stop reading after this sentence – I ask you to VOTE YES on Amendment 1. Spearheaded by the CLEAN Missouri campaign, Amendment 1 is a bipartisan measure supported by Republicans (Sen. John Danforth, Sen. Rob Schaaf, Sen. Marvin Singleton), Democrats and non-partisan organizations, like AARP, the League of Women Voters and the Campaign Legal Center.
This constitutional amendment will put in place much-needed anti-corruption reform for our state legislature. In a nutshell, here’s what Amendment 1 will do, if passed:
- Eliminate expensive lobbyist gifts by limiting such gifts to $5 or less. (Fun Fact: Our legislators take an average of $900,000 in lobbyist gifts each year.)
- Lower campaign contribution limits: $2,500 for Senators and $2,000 for Representatives.
- Ensure no political party is given an unfair advantage when new legislative district maps are drawn aka FIX the gerrymandering that has happened in our state, which has resulted in 90% of districts being uncompetitive.
- Require politicians to wait two years after leaving office before taking a job as a lobbyist.
- Make legislative records and meetings open to the public (sensitive information will be redacted).
The most confusing part of this amendment is the redistricting process. The opposition to Amendment 1 has mostly centered around the fact that the redistricting will be done by a non-partisan demographer, who will be chosen through a bipartisan process. The map this demographer draws will have to follow clear and transparent criteria to ensure the districts are representative of the people who live there, aren’t discriminating against marginalized communities, and allow for fair and competitive elections.
Some naysayers claim this process would make the gerrymandering worse, but districting experts across the country have looked at the policy and believe it would do a great job at addressing the districting issues in our state. To me, the most important safeguard is that Amendment 1 makes sure there is a clear criterion that maps have to follow, which means that anyone who feels the maps have been drawn unfairly can use this criterion to plead their case and try to get the maps redrawn.
I think it’s also worth noting that the “No on 1” campaign is funded solely by Rex Sinquefield, a rich af Springfield man who has at least seven lobbyists in Jefferson City registered to lobby for his interests. Wonder what he stands to lose?
When talking to people about Amendment 1, I often hear, “What does it matter? Our politicians will still be corrupt, even if this passes.” That is very likely true. However, the important thing is this amendment would allow us to have the constitutional grounds to hold them accountable when they are caught violating these standards.
For more info on Amendment 1, visit: www.cleanmissouri.org
Want to help canvass to get the word out about Amendment 1 before Election Day? Message me on Facebook.
Amendment 2: YES
I wrote a piece earlier this year about New Approach’s Amendment 2 which will legalize medical marijuana in Missouri (although I referred to it as Proposition 2 – woops!). Feel free to go back a read that for a breakdown of what the policy will do.
Let me address some of what the opposition is saying about Amendment 2. There are limits to how many industrial cultivation facilities will be allowed in Missouri, based off of the population (around 61). However, this can be changed by the state after passage to allow for more down the road.
The fees to apply as an industry grower/seller/manufacturer aren’t cheap.
- $10,000 non-refundable fee to apply as a medical marijuana cultivation facility;
- $6,000 non-refundable fee to apply as a medical marijuana dispensary;
- $6,000 non-refundable fee to apply as a medical marijuana-infused products manufacturing facility.
These numbers might turn you off, however, they are comparable to what other states have required of these types of facilities with the passage of medical marijuana. These fees also help fund the program, which is necessary and isn’t something we can likely depend on the legislature to do, given their resistance to passing medical marijuana.
What’s great about Amendment 2 that Amendment 3 does NOT allow for is home-growing. If you have a qualifying patient ID card ($25 per year), you can home-grow up to six flowering plants per patient. It costs $100 per year for a home-grow permit.
New Approach’s Amendment 2 has the most physician support and is also supported by drug reform groups like the Drug Policy Alliance and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
If both Amendment 2 and 3 pass, whichever has the most YES votes will stand victorious. Prop C, the third medical marijuana measure, would undermine a lot of what Amendment 2 seeks to do. I recommend voting FOR Amendment 2 and AGAINST the other medical marijuana ballot measures.
More info: http://www.newapproachmissouri.com/
Amendment 3: NO
Amendment 3 is another measure to legalize medical marijuana. The campaign was spearheaded by Springfield lawyer and physician, Brad Bradshaw. The amendment puts in place a 15% sales tax on medical marijuana sales, but is a flat tax, meaning that no other local or state taxes will be imposed. Amendment 2’s 4% sales tax could be coupled with other local, city or state taxes.
Amendment 3 does NOT allow for home-grow. This was one of the big kickers for me. I think it’s immoral not to allow patients to grow their own medicinal plants. They would be forced to only purchase cannabis with the markup that allows manufactures to profit, instead of a much more self-sustaining option.
Feel free to research the two measures and compare them to decide which you think is best for the people of Missouri: https://www.findthecures.com/
Amendment 4: No opinion. I will probably vote yes.
This amendment has something to do with bingo marketing? I can’t really tell, but it doesn’t seem to have much bearing on anything that I care about, and won’t cost or benefit the state if passed. You can read more about it here, though.
Proposition B: YES
Prop B will raise the minimum wage from $7.85 to $8.60, then 85 cents every year until 2023, when it will reach $12. Government employees are exempt from this increase. The proposition also increases the penalty on employers who get caught paying less than the minimum wage.
To me, this is common sense. Even $8.60/hr at a full-time job isn’t *really* enough to pay rent, bills, gas, car payments, insurance, groceries, support a family and have any kind of fun. We want people to be self-sufficient and not depend on government programs or go into debt? Why not pay them a living wage?
More info on Prop B: https://www.raiseupmo.org/
Proposition C: NO
This measure would legalize medical marijuana by law, but has a lot of flaws. It puts a ton of power into the hands of local leaders to decide who will benefit from legalized medical marijuana. It also has the potential to be shot down or changed in any way by the legislature should it pass, unlike Amendment 2.
Prop C has been spearheaded by one of Rex Sinquefield’s (Remember that guy? Man, he has a lot of money!) lobbyists. It stinks of dark money, and ALSO doesn’t allow for patient home-grow. That’s an “oh, no no” for me.
Some people might tell you to vote yes as a safe guard in case Amendments 2 or 3 don’t pass. The problem is, it seems Prop C would actually put more power into our lawmakers’ hands when determining how either amendment would be implemented, should they pass. Not to mention, its taxes could compound with the sales taxes required by whichever Amendment passes.
Vote NO on this lame attempt to pass medical marijuana.
Read the measure here: https://www.missouripetition.com/
Check out this helpful breakdown of the three medical marijuana proposals here.
Proposition D: NO
Prop D is for a fuel tax increase, all of which will go to Missouri Highway Patrol, thus freeing up funds from the current fuel taxes to go to road construction. I could honestly go either way on this one, and really need a deeper understanding of Missouri Highway Patrol’s and MODOT’s current budget and spending.
On one hand, I am generally in support of paying taxes to help us keep our infrastructure in good condition. On the other hand, I would be much more likely to support this measure if it included any kind of funding to support and build up public transportation, something I think is greatly lacking in all parts of our state.
I’ll be voting no on Proposition D.
Here’s the site for the Prop D campaign: http://www.safermo.com/
Look At Your Ballot!
You don’t have to take my word for it. There are plenty of resources where you can put in your address to find your polling place and see a sample ballot with a breakdown of each of the measures, and even positions from candidates. Two of my favs: Vote Save America and Vote411. You can even fill out the ballot how you want to vote and print it out as a cheat-sheet for the real deal.
As a note, Uber is offering free rides to your polling place on Election Day. If you need help finding your polling place, a ride, or figuring out how to vote, there are resources and people out there. Message me. Comment on this post. Use Google. There are no valid excuses at this point. Your vote and voice matter. You are not absolved of responsibility because you don’t believe in the system. The system will never change if we don’t at least try. So vote.