On Nov. 6, Missourians will head to the polls to cast their votes for numerous candidates and important issues, including four proposed amendments to the Missouri Constitution. In this legislative column, we will discuss two of the ballot measures appearing on the ballot in the upcoming general election.
Below you will find a description of Amendment 1 and Amendment 4, two proposed ballot measures, including each measure’s official title, fiscal note, fair ballot language and any potential impact it may have on your taxes. For more information about the upcoming election, including where and how to vote, please visit the secretary of state’s website at www.sos.mo.gov.
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
- Change the process and criteria for redrawing state legislative districts during reapportionment;
- Change limits on campaign contributions that candidates for the state Legislature can accept from individuals or entities;
- Establish a limit on gifts that state legislators, and their employees, can accept from paid lobbyists;
- Prohibit state legislators, and their employees, from serving as paid lobbyists for a period of time;
- Prohibit political fundraising by candidates or members of the Legislature on State property; and
- Require legislative records and proceedings to be open to the public?
State governmental entities estimate annual operating costs may increase by $189,000. Local governmental entities expect no fiscal impact.
Fair Ballot Language:
A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to change the process and criteria for redrawing state legislative district boundaries during redistricting. Currently, bipartisan House and Senate commissions redraw boundaries, and those maps are adopted if 70 percent of the commissioners approve the maps. This amendment proposes that a state demographer, chosen from a panel selected by the state auditor, redraw the boundaries and submit those maps to the Missouri House of Representatives and the Missouri Senate commissions. This amendment would then allow changes to the demographer’s maps only if 70 percent of the commissioners vote to make changes and do so within two months after receiving the maps from the state demographer. The amendment also reduces the limits on campaign contributions that candidates for state senator or state representative can accept from individuals or entities by $100 per election for a Senate candidate and $500 for a House candidate. The amendment creates a $5 limit on gifts that state legislators and their employees can accept from paid lobbyists or the lobbyists’ clients and prohibits state legislators and their employees from serving as paid lobbyists for a period of two years after the end of their last legislative session. The amendment also prohibits political fundraising by candidates or members of the Legislature on state property. The amendment further requires all legislative records and proceedings to be subject to the state open meetings and records law (Missouri Sunshine Law).
A “no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution regarding redistricting, campaign contributions, lobbyist gifts, limits on lobbying after political service, fundraising locations and legislative records and proceedings.
If passed, this change to the Missouri Constitution will include constituent correspondence received in any legislative office, written, emailed or documents by phone. Correspondence can contain names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, health information, job requests, complaints etc. Whatever is submitted to an office and the response is subject to a sunshine request, which can come from any source, not just a news agency. This is most concerning to me, because whatever personal information we receive in a request for assistance, response to a question, etc., becomes available to anyone requesting it. The amendment makes this mandate a part of our Missouri Constitution. We do not share this information now, but could be forced to under this Constitutional Amendment.
There are many aspect of this amendment, also called Clean Missouri, which would change Missouri law and it is important that voters know what could really happen and how this would affect them and their representation. It would change voting districts sending our county votes to another district that may not properly represent those who actually live in the area. Under the amendment, district lines would be redrawn to include 50 percent of registered voters of one party and 50 percent registered voters of the other party. Large metropolitan district voters could be mixed with rural area voters who do not share the same concerns or lifestyles.
Limits on campaign contributions will also be changed, should Amendment 1 pass. Right now, Missouri lawmakers can accept a $2,600 donation per election cycle from a contributor. This amendment changes that to $2,500. I do not believe a difference of $100 serves any purpose. This will simply force contributors to find a different way to donate and lead to “dark money” contributions.
This amendment would also establish a ban on lobbyist gifts. Right now, all contributions and gifts are reported to the Missouri Ethics Commission. The agency has monthly reports, which are available on their web page. If you check the reports, you will see that I do not accept lobbyist gifts, meals, etc.
This amendment contains many items, which are already covered by Missouri law. I find much of this measure to be redundant. Items included in this amendment, which are already addressed by other state laws, include the ban on allowing lawmakers to become lobbyists for a certain amount of time and stopping political fundraising on state property.
I believe our constitution works well. I advise you to vote against Amendment 1.
Do you want to amend the Missouri Constitution to:
- Remove language limiting bingo game advertising that a court ruled unenforceable; and
- Allow a member of a licensed organization conducting bingo games to participate in the management of bingo games after being a member of the organization for six months instead of the current two years?
State and local governmental entities estimate no costs or savings from this proposal.
Fair Ballot Language:
A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to remove language limiting bingo game advertising that a court ruled was unconstitutional and not enforceable. This amendment would also allow a member of a licensed organization conducting bingo games to participate in the management of bingo games after being a member of the organization for six months. Currently, the constitution requires two years of membership.
A “no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution regarding bingo games. If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.
As always, I appreciate it when groups from around Missouri and from our community back home come to visit me at the Capitol. If you would like to arrange a time to come and visit me in Jefferson City, or if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.