The Call makes endorsements on Missouri constitutional amendments, propositions

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Editorial by the Call

The Call makes the following endorsements of statewide constitutional amendments and propositions for the election Tuesday, Nov. 6.

To see the Call’s endorsements for state legislative races and Crestwood mayor, click here.

Statewide amendments

Amendment 1  — Clean Missouri

We’ve seen arguments back and forth for months about Amendment 1, Clean Missouri. On one hand, the long-overdue ethics reforms in this amendment to the Missouri Constitution need to be enacted immediately. We’re tempted to support its passage just based on that, despite the amendment’s ironic backing from unnamed “dark money” sources.

But most of the discussion against Amendment 1 has focused on whether it tries to fix gerrymandering with another form of gerrymandering, this time possibly to favor the more liberal interests like those that back it. We’re not sure if the state auditor-led process described in Amendment 1 would make districts that make more sense than the current system, but we’re wary of an untested idea.

Rarely have we seen such strong opinions on both sides of an amendment, and we’ve seen differing opinions even locally in St. Louis County of whether the new redistricting process would, for example, help or hurt African Americans or help or hurt Republicans, or even the playing field between the sides. We welcome the lobbying reforms in the amendment, but we’re just not sure about the redistricting aspect.

The Call takes no position on Amendment 1.

Amendment 2  — Legalizing medical marijuana

Missouri could become the 31st state to legalize medical marijuana if voters approve any one of three amendments or propositions on the ballot Tuesday.

Legalizing medical marijuana is a no-brainer and is the view of most Missourians and most Americans according to opinion surveys.

And the best route to legalize it in Missouri is Amendment 2, which would legalize marijuana for ill patients who have specified conditions like cancer, AIDS and epilepsy, while adding a 4-percent tax that will go to fund veterans’ services, including veterans’ homes.

This is a common-sense constitutional amendment. And while we don’t believe that the Missouri Constitution should be constantly amended to grow longer and longer, a subject like this, which has opposition in the Legislature, is the perfect time for voters to have their say instead of lawmakers. A mere state statute could easily be overturned by legislators.

The Call endorses a “yes” vote on Amendment 2.

Amendment 3 — Legalizing medical marijuana and creating a research institute

Legalizing medical marijuana is a good idea, but approving Amendment 3 is a very bad one. A Springfield attorney and physician, Brad Bradshaw, self-financed his own constitutional amendment to write his own name into the Missouri Constitution as the head of a research institute to cure diseases like cancer — the very diseases that medical marijuana is intended to help.

But it taxes those patients an outrageous 15 percent to make that happen (less than the 85 percent that Bradshaw originally pushed for, according to news reports), and specifically mandates the Legislature stay out of the $66 million a year Bradshaw predicts he’ll take in to fund the institute. Bradshaw would lead the institute and serve as its chairman of the board until he appoints a replacement. Who must also be both an attorney and a physician.

We have a major issue with one Missourian writing themselves into the Missouri Constitution, for whatever reason.

But on a more practical level, a medical research institute funded by taxpayers but not accountable to them is simply a disaster waiting to happen. We can only hope that Amendment 2 gets more votes than Amendment 3 so that Bradshaw’s boondoggle doesn’t become a reality.

The Call endorses a “no” vote on Amendment 3.

Amendment 4  — Bingo

We’re as shocked as anyone that bingo was illegal in Missouri until the 1980s, when Missourians legalized the game through a constitutional amendment. But bingo is still governed by archaic laws like how long the bingo master has to be part of the organization and dictating that organizations hosting bingo can’t advertise it. Amendment 4 rights this wrong, however trivial.

The Call endorses a “yes” vote on Amendment 4.

Proposition B — Raising the minimum wage

We’re conflicted on Proposition B, which would raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2023. Although it’s most likely time for Missouri to hike its minimum wage, we’re afraid that a more-than-50 percent hike could be too much, too soon, and cause compression in wages for people who already make more than the minimum wage, lowering their buying power at the same time it increases it for others.

More importantly, we feel that such a quick rise in the minimum wage could hasten the trend toward automation and end up costing jobs statewide.

The Call takes no position on Proposition B.

Proposition C — Legalizing medical marijuana

Although we prefer that marijuana be legalized through Amendment 2, we believe so strongly that patients need to be granted relief from their pain that we wouldn’t mind if it was legalized through Prop C.

But there are a few ways that this measure is inferior to Amendment 2. First, it’s not an amendment. The Legislature could thwart the will of voters and overturn it just like it did the “puppy mill” bill in 2011.

Second, it doesn’t give as much money as Amendment 2 to good causes. It only gives $50,000 a year to a long list of causes, which means no cause will end up getting that much money. Third, if it gets more votes than Amendment 2, it could cause a constitutional crisis over which one will actually be enacted.

But it does legalize medical marijuana in a fairly straightforward fashion.

So the Call endorses a “yes” vote on Proposition C.

Proposition D — 10-cent gas tax

We’re not a fan of new taxes, especially ones that will likely never sunset. But Missouri clearly needs money for roads and bridges, and the Legislature has argued over how to do it for literally decades since the last gas tax went into effect in 1996.

Lawmakers were able to finally agree on Proposition D, a 10-cent gas tax that goes up gradually over four years, and even get Republican Gov. Mike Parson on board as its strongest supporter. We applaud Parson for taking a difficult stance for some conservative Republicans in supporting a needed tax, and we think Prop D can get the job done and actually fix Missouri’s roads.

Its funding mechanism through the Missouri State Highway Patrol can seem confusing at first, but once it’s explained it makes sense. The MSHP currently takes about $260 million out of the State Road Fund every year for its operations, and Prop D will give the MSHP a dedicated revenue stream for $280 million, current expenses plus a little room to grow. That means the State Road Fund can be entirely dedicated to funding what it should be funding, roads.

The Call endorses a “yes” vote on Prop D.

Voter summary:

The Call does not take a position on Amendment 1, Clean Missouri, or Prop B, raising the minimum wage.

The Call endorses Amendment 2 legalizing medical marijuana, Amendment 4 for bingo, Proposition C that also legalizes medical marijuana and Proposition D, a 10-cent gas tax.

But the Call urges a “no” vote on Amendment 3, which also legalizes medical marijuana in a very, let’s say, odd way.