Sen. Denny Hoskins’ Capitol Report for Week of Oct. 24, 2022
Tuesday, October 25, 2022
Five Questions for Voters
On Nov. 8, Missourians will go to the polls and cast votes for candidates vying for a range of elected offices on the local, state and national level. In addition to voting for individual candidates, we also will be asked to weigh-in on a five ballot questions, four of which would amend the state constitution if passed. I thought it would be useful to explain these questions and let you know how I stand on each one. You can see the language that will be on your ballot, and read the proposed constitutional changes on the secretary of state’s website at sos.mo.gov/elections/petitions/2022BallotMeasures.
Amendment 1 — The first ballot question you’ll be presented deals with the state treasurer’s authority to invest state funds. This question was placed on the ballot through passage of House Joint Resolution 35 during the 2021 legislative session. Unlike your family, Missouri’s treasurer is not free to invest state resources however he pleases. The constitution limits allowable deposits to certain types of extremely low-risk investments, such as bank accounts and treasury notes. Amendment 1 expands the treasurer’s options to include highly rated municipal securities. These are still considered extremely safe, low-risk investments, but they should result in a greater return for Missouri taxpayers. A budget analysis estimates passage of this amendment will mean about $2 million more in revenue to the state each year, without incurring any additional cost to the taxpayers. I will be voting “Yes” on Amendment 1.
Amendment 3 — This constitutional amendment would legalize possession of marijuana and allow adults to purchase marijuana for recreational use. This constitutional amendment was not approved by the Legislature, but was placed on the ballot through an initiative petition effort funded in large part by Missouri’s current medical marijuana industry. I am opposed to this amendment for a number of reasons. At the most basic level, I do not support the legalization of marijuana. We’ve seen far too much damage done to our young people through marijuana use already, not to mention the loss of productivity and job safety that comes from the use of illicit drugs among our workforce. At another level, I don’t like the way this amendment sets up a near monopoly for those already in the medical marijuana business. I think it’s telling that this objection is shared by a number of groups that previously supported marijuana legalization. The amendment does not stop at making marijuana possession legal, however. It also provides for expungement of prior marijuana convictions, with the result of perhaps thousands of felons released from jail – including those who had more serious charges pled down to simple possession. In my opinion, the amendment is poorly written and, I suspect, intentionally confusing. Unfortunately, if passed, these changes will be enshrined in the state constitution, making them extremely difficult to change. I believe legalizing recreational marijuana is a terrible idea. You can be sure I’ll vote “No” on Amendment 3.
Amendment 4 — For nearly 70 years, the Missouri Constitution has required 20% of Kansas City’s municipal budget to be devoted to the city’s police department. This amendment, placed on the ballot through passage of Senate Joint Resolution 38, gives the Legislature authority to increase the funding requirement for the Kansas City Police Department. The inspiration for this measure came from a 2021 attempt to divert some of KCPD’s funding. The city council voted to strip $42 million from the department after the Board of Police Commissioners had already approved a budget. A court blocked that effort but left the door open for future cuts. This year, the General Assembly voted to raise the minimum funding threshold to 25% of the city’s budget. Passage of Amendment 4 will confirm the Legislature’s authority to make this change and block challenges to the increased funding. With so many groups intent on defunding the police, I believe it’s critical that the Legislature have the ability to step in as needed. I will vote “Yes” on Amendment 4.
Amendment 5 — Passage of Amendment 5 will authorize the creation of a new cabinet-level Department of the National Guard under the direction of the governor. Currently, the Missouri National Guard is under the Department of Public Safety. Placed on the ballot by passage of House Joint Resolution 116, Amendment 4 will establish a direct line of command from the governor to the adjutant general, without first going through the director of public safety. Creating a separate Department of the National Guard will streamline operations and ensure greater efficiency in times of statewide emergencies. As a veteran of the Missouri Army National Guard, I support this change and will be voting “Yes” on Amendment 5.
Constitutional Convention Question — Unlike the other four questions on the ballot, this one does not amend the Missouri Constitution. Instead, it asks voters “Shall there be a convention to revise and amend the constitution?” Our current constitution, which was adopted in 1945, requires this question to be asked of voters once every 20 years. Three previous constitution convention questions (in 1962, 1982 and 2002) were all defeated. I am not aware of anyone making a strong case for voters to approve this question either. In my opinion, convening a constitutional convention would be akin to opening a can of poisonous worms that’s best left tightly closed. There’s no telling what would come out of such an exercise in today’s divided political environment. I will vote “No” on the constitutional convention question.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4302. You may also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.