State Sen. Dan Brown's Weekly Legislative Column:
On Nov. 6, citizens all over the state and country will be exercising their right to vote. This is the cornerstone of democracy in this country. Besides voting for the candidates of your choice, there are other measures to be decided, by you, the informed voter.
For the moment, let's put aside those candidates running for office and focus on the ballot measures that will be voted upon this election.
Proposition A is an issue dealing with returning local control of the St. Louis police to the city of St. Louis instead of the Board of Police Commissioners appointed by the Governor. The ballot will read:
Shall Missouri law be amended to:
• allow any city not within a county (the City of St. Louis) the option of transferring certain obligations and control of the city's police force from the board of police commissioners currently appointed by the governor to the city and establishing a municipal police force;
• establish certain procedures and requirements for governing such a municipal police force including residency, rank, salary, benefits, insurance, and pension; and
• prohibit retaliation against any employee of such municipal police force who reports conduct believed to be illegal to a superior, government agency, or the press?
State governmental entities estimated savings will eventually be up to $500,000 annually. Local governmental entities estimated annual potential savings of $3.5 million; however, consolidation decisions with an unknown outcome may result in the savings being more or less than estimated.
There is also a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution on the ballot this election. Constitutional Amendment 3 will read as follows:
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to change the current nonpartisan selection of Missouri Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges to a process that gives the governor increased authority to:
• appoint a majority of the commission that selects these court nominees; and
• appoint all lawyers to the commission by removing the requirement that the governor's appointees be non-lawyers? There is no fiscal note to this measure, which means there are no costs or savings associated with it if approved by voters.
Another ballot measure is Proposition B, which deals with the Health and Education Trust Fund. It will read as follows: Shall Missouri law be amended to:
• create the Health and Education Trust Fund with proceeds of a tax of $0.0365 per cigarette and 25 percent of the manufacturer's invoice price for roll-your-own tobacco and 15percent for other tobacco products;
• use fund proceeds to reduce and prevent tobacco use and for elementary, secondary, college, and university public school funding; and
• increase the amount that certain tobacco product manufacturers must maintain in their escrow accounts, to pay judgments or settlements, before any funds in escrow can be refunded to the tobacco product manufacturer and create bonding requirements for these manufacturers?
Although costs to implement this initiative are unknown, the estimated revenue increase of $283 million to $423 million will be used to only programs and services allowed by the proposal.
Proposition E will also appear on the November ballot. This was in response to last session's SB 464, regarding the state's health insurance exchange. It reads:
Shall Missouri law be amended to prohibit the governor, or any state agency, from establishing or operating state-based health insurance exchanges unless authorized by a vote of the people or by the legislature?
No direct costs or savings for state and local governmental entities are expected from this proposal. Indirect costs or savings related to enforcement actions, missed federal funding, avoided implementation costs, and other issues are unknown at this time.
Nov. 6 is your opportunity to make a difference in Missouri's future. If you need more information about these or any other measures you will see on the upcoming ballot, as well as what a “yes” or “no” vote on these initiatives might mean, please visit the Missouri Secretary of State's website at www.sos.mo.gov/elections and click on the “Nov. 6, 2012 State General Election” link. From there, you can review the various candidates in races around the state as well as the ballot issues.
Always feel free to contact me throughout the year with any comments, questions, or issues by calling my office at (573) 751-5713 or by visiting www.senate.mo.gov/brown.
Thank you for reading this and for your participation in state government.