Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft certified five ballot measures Thursday that will not be part of Tuesday’s primary but will be on the November ballot.
Three of them would legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes while a fourth would hike the minimum wage and the fifth would change redistricting procedures for elections.
Two of the marijuana measures would change the state constitution to legalize medical marijuana and would establish procedures for licensing marijuana businesses.
One of those two would tax sales at 4%, raising $18 million a year which would go toward care for military veterans and to pay for the licensing and regulation of the businesses. It’s estimated operating cost to the state is $7 million annually.
The other would carry a 15% tax on sales, generating $66 million with proceeds going toward research for cancer and other incurable diseases. It would cost the state $500,000 a year in operating expenses.
A third medical marijuana measure would change the law to allow its use with certification by from a physician and allow for legal growth, possession, and production of pot. It would tax retail sales at 2%, raising an estimated $10 million in revenue. The money would be used for veterans’ services, drug treatment, early childhood education, and for public safety in cities with a medical marijuana facility. The operational cost would be $10 million per year.
The minimum wage measure would raise minimum pay incrementally 85-cents every year until 2023 when it would top out at $12.00 per hour. It would not apply to government workers.
After 2023, it would subject to cost of living adjustments and would have to be hiked to match any federal minimum wage increase beyond $12.00. Any employer who failed to pay the minimum wage would have to reimburse employees twice the amount of wages initially left unpaid.
State estimators project the minimum wage measure could impact state and local tax revenue by an unknown amount ranging from a $2.9 million decrease to a $214 million increase depending on business decisions.
The ballot initiative to change the redistricting procedure includes several other components championed by the group Clean Missouri.
The state legislature would be replaced by a non-partisan “state demographer” who would determine voting districts which are modified every 10 years after the federal census.
Under the measure, the majority and minority leader of the state Senate would have to agree on who the demographer would be, otherwise, the leaders would submit candidates from which a lottery would be held to determine the demographer.
Clean Missouri claims the procedure guards against one party gerrymandering the redistricting process. The legislature is currently dominated by Republicans by roughly a 3-1 ratio.
Other components of the ballot measure put forth by Clean Missouri set campaign finance rules for the state legislature.
For one, it prohibits lawmakers from becoming lobbyists for two years after they leave office. It also bars state Senate and House office holders as well as legislative staff members from receiving lobbyist gifts in excess of $5.00.
It further forbids the general assembly from passing a law that would authorize unlimited campaign contributions and changes donation limits to candidates running for the state legislature. In November 2016, voters overwhelmingly passed a measure limiting individual contributions to $2,600 to a candidate per election.
The measure going before voters this November from Clean Missouri further limits individual contributions to candidates or candidate committees to $2,500 for Senate seats and $2,000 for House seats.
Another one of the measure’s provisions requires legislative records to be open to the public.
The battle over this ballot measure is likely to be spirited and hard fought. An organization opposing new Missouri emerged in late July.
The group is chaired by former Republican U.S. Senator Jim Talent who is being advised by Republican members of both Missouri houses.
They include Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard of Joplin and well as Senators’ Bob Onder of Lake St. Louis and Caleb Rowden of Columbia. House Republicans advising Talent for Missourians First are incoming Speaker Elijah Haahr of Springfield, Shamed Dogan of Ballwin and Dean Plocher of St. Louis.
Talent accused Clean Missouri of trying to change the “non-partisan redistricting process in favor of one that requires gerrymandering.”
Clean Missouri bills itself as a bipartisan effort. Its ballot measure is supported by the Missouri State Conference of the NAACP, Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri and the League of Women Voters of Missouri.
The effort has received backing from left-leaning groups, including Billionaire George Soros. Soros’ Washington based lobbying firm donated $300,000 to a St. Louis based political committee in January. That committee, MOVE Ballot Fund, then donated $250,000 to Clean Missouri three days later. The move was criticized by Republican operatives at the time.
Clean Missouri also has the backing of a GOP coalition which includes former U.S. Senator John Danforth as well as state Senator Rob Schaaf on St. Joseph, State Representative Nick Marshall of Parkville, and former State Senators’ Bob Johnson of Lee’s Summit and Jim Lembke of Mehlville.