Thursday, May 11, 2006

Missouri’s Initiative Petitions

Missouri’s Secretary of State (Robin Carnahan) will be busy for a while. She and her staff, partnering with county clerks throughout the state now have the job of completing a wonderful process somewhat unique to the Show-Me State—citizen initiative petitions. The Kansas City Star reported that Stacie Temple, communications director for the secretary of state’s office, said “This will be a significant workload.” That may well be the understatement of the week.

Of course, Carnahan should be happy that only six made it to the finish line. Eighteen initiative petitions were circulating this Spring…almost higher than the pollen count.

Heading the list is the infamous petition from the self-named Missourians for Lifesaving Cures. Of course, it depends on whose life you are talking about. If you happen to be a human in the embryonic stage of life in a petri dish, the group isn’t interested in the least in saving your life. Rather, they intend to exploit you for research purposes to benefit humans a little further developed (can you tell I'm a member of Missourians Against Human Cloning?). But I’m getting off point. They spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 million to get nearly 289,000 Missourians to sign their petition to inscribe embryonic stem cell research and human cloning into law.

The Committee for a Healthy Future also turned in excessive signatures for their drive to place on the ballot a constitutional amendment to raise taxes on tobacco products. They want to raise Missouri’s current tax rate of 17 cents a pack to 80 cents a pack. That group contends Missouri has one of the highest smoking rates in the nation but with one of the lowest tax rates. The national average is 92 cents a pack.

Another group wants to roll back the General Assembly’s changes in Medicaid. They’ve proposed statutory changes to continue Missouri’s program beyond 2008.

Missourians in Charge spearheaded two constitutional amendments. The first will shore up eminent domain laws, blocking the government from seizing private property and giving it to another private landowner. Their second proposal will further cap spending limits for the General Assembly.

Yet another group, Give Missourians a Raise turned in signatures for a proposal to raise the state minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.50 an hour and have it adjusted annually based on changes in the Consumer Price Index.

One proposed constitutional amendment has already been certified by the Secretary of State. It would reauthorize for 10 years the one-tenth percent sales/use tax for soil and water conservation and state parks and historic sites.

If you’ve been keeping track, that’s seven items. It may be a confusing November!

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