Sen. Ed Emery’s Legislative Report for Oct. 19 2018

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When Confusion Reigns

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”   James, the Apostle

We are beginning to receive lots of questions about the ballot measures that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot. If you are unable to vote that day, absentee voting is currently underway. Please go to the courthouse and vote absentee. This is not an election to sit out.

There are four constitutional amendments and three statute changes being proposed. Constitutional amendments become effective 30 days after the election, if passed. The “propositions” would be effective immediately, if passed.

Some callers have asked for my position on the proposals. The short answer is that I will vote no on each one.

My reasons for each are not identical, but a theme that is shared by most is extreme complexity leading to dangerous confusion. Some are collections of often unrelated amendments that have been assembled to garner support from multiple special interest groups. Proponents are likely anticipating that those groups will not look beyond their own issue. Following is a list of the ballot measures with my (usually abbreviated) comments.

To view the fair ballot language for all of the proposals on the Nov. 6 ballot, please visit the secretary of state’s website at

Amendment 1

This is on the ballot by petition and includes what is by far the most harmful of any of the ballot measures: the change to how political districts will be drawn. The stated goal is to eliminate districts that are currently dominated by either political party and replace them with districts that are equally divided. Existing House and Senate districts would no longer be adjusted because of population change, but neutralize any political affiliation. For example, if the redistricting czar didn’t think there were enough members of one party in your district, he/she would just draw whatever extraordinary district needed to bring in more. The ramifications are multiple and corrupt. There are other harmful elements of this proposal, (one court took it off the ballot due to multiple subjects) but this element alone is enough for me to work against it. Check your local paper or the secretary of state website for the full text; it is lengthy and confusing.

Amendment 2

Amendment 2 is by petition and is one of three proposals to allow “medical marijuana” use in Missouri, despite federal law against its use. Two of these (Amendments 2 & 3) would impose complex and lengthy additions to the Missouri Constitution. The third, Prop C, would write medical marijuana into statute. At least, in statue, the Legislature could more easily correct problems that might develop. Because there are three similar, but differing, marijuana proposals, if more than one should pass, the one with the most “yes” votes will be adopted.

The arguments against medical marijuana are extensive, from multiple conservative think tanks, but one threat seen, if you examine the 30 states that have authorized medical marijuana, is that within an average of 12 years, the state expands use to recreational. My opposition herein is abbreviated and understated, but I am firmly a no on all three “medical” marijuana usage proposals. Just try reading and understanding the full text of any of these.

Amendment 3

This amendment is also by petition and changes the Missouri Constitution to allow marijuana usage “medically.” It has different taxation and regulation details, but my opposition is the same as for Amendment 2.

Amendment 4

This relates to bingo regulation and is proposed by the Legislature. I voted no in the Senate because I see it as an expansion of gambling, but it may be the least harmful of the proposed constitutional amendments. Bingo is already regulated in the constitution, so changes must be written there. This proposal removes language that limits bingo game advertising and allows members of an authorized organization to manage the bingo games within six months of employment, rather than waiting the two years currently required.

Proposition B

Another proposal by petition, Prop B would change Missouri law to mandate wage increases for private businesses regardless of the impact on jobs or the economy. It would impose annual increases up to $12.00 per hour by 2023. I have always preferred the free market to dictate business decisions rather than government mandates. If we just consider our national debt and the government waste that is regularly exposed, I cannot understand why we would want  the government running our state’s businesses.

Proposition C

This is yet another “medical marijuana” proposal placed on the ballot by petition. It imposes a change in law, rather than constitution, but none of the three marijuana proposals was debated or vetted by the Legislature. I oppose it for the same reasons already stated, but it would be more easily amended if its passage resulted in unanticipated consequences.

Proposition D

This change in Missouri law is proposed by the Legislature, but I voted against it in the Senate and will again. It has been identified by some as a bit of a “bait and switch,” even though it attempts to address a genuine problem: Missouri needs to invest more tax dollars in infrastructure. Our roads, bridges, and river ports need improvements that seems unaffordable under our existing fuel tax structure. However, labeling this as a law enforcement tax and “buying off” county and municipal officials with millions of state taxpayer dollars does not build public trust, in my opinion.

Fundamentally, I believe Missouri citizens and businesses are taxed enough to pay for infrastructure, but we are simply redistributing far too much of your taxes on welfare programs rather than spending it on roads and bridges. My public position on similar proposals has been that I would not filibuster a fuel tax increase if it went to a vote of the people, and I would support a fuel tax increase, if paired with an offsetting income tax decrease.

Prop D increases the fuel tax by 10 cents over four years. It also captures electric vehicles with comparable “fuel” tax policy, which is important. Once fully implemented, according the figures being reported, Missouri cities and counties will be dividing up about $124 million, the Highway Patrol will be receiving about S28 million, and transportation funding will be an estimated 260 million dollars. Even after sitting through a lengthy presentation, I am not a hundred percent confident of these numbers, but that is the best I can do. Missourians are becoming increasingly frustrated with deteriorating roads and may be ready to increase their taxes. Either way, they should be asking why current taxes are insufficient and where this money is going, instead of roads.

For more information about the upcoming election, including the fair ballot language for all of the proposals on the Nov. 6 ballot, please visit the secretary of state’s website at

Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. We welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.