As voters prepare to go to the polls on Nov. 6 to cast a ballot, seven amendments and propositions are garnering considerable statewide attention. Among the issues on the ballot are proposals to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, increasing the state's gas tax, a measure being promoted as a way to clean up politics and raising the state's minimum wage.Candidates for the the state Senate seat being vacated by Republican Senator Dan Brown have varying positions on the ballot issues.
On Nov. 6, Republican candidate Justin Brown will be trying to retain the seat currently held by his father, against Democrat Ryan Dillon. Both candidates are from the Rolla area in Phelps County. Each candidate was asked to provide their positions on the issues that will be on the statewide ballot.
Constitutional Amendment 1 ( campaign finance, redistricting, etc)
Justin Brown (R): On the surface, the “Clean Missouri” initiative looks like a good idea. I support ethics reform. However, conveniently hidden in this “Trojan Horse” is a provision that puts the only Democrat statewide officeholder in Jefferson City in charge of redistricting. This could lead to Rolla or Camdenton being in the same senate district as St. Louis. It is no wonder progressive organizations have supported this effort to hijack the current redistricting process. I am opposed to Amendment 1 wholeheartedly.
Ryan Dillon (D): Missouri is overdue for ethics reform and Constitutional Amendment 1 moves us closer to a more transparent and accountable state government. I stand with Senator Jack Danforth in supporting this amendment because it requires that legislative records be open to the public, it requires politicians to wait at least two years before becoming lobbyist, it eliminates any lobbyist gift over $5 in the General Assembly, lowers contribution limits for state legislative candidates, and creates an independent process for redrawing legislative districts. The process will be guided by clear, transparent criteria to ensure no party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census – districts will be compact and contiguous. This amendment offers voters the opportunity to clean up corruption in Jefferson City, taking power from party insiders and special interests and giving it back to the people.
Good ideas transcend partisanship and when you eliminate money from politics, you are able to foster a political environment that prioritizes compromise. We must come together to reach the solutions we all know are possible and as your State Senator, I will fight for transparency and an ethically sound state government that works for all Missourians
Constitutional Amendment 2 (medical marijuana)
Justin Brown (R): Medical marijuana is a complicated topic and many of the properties of marijuana that are useful in the medical field are already available in ways that the product is not smoked. I am troubled that this amendment, if passed, would be enshrined in our Constitution. This means it cannot be amended by lawmakers as laws change on the federal level. I will be voting “no.”
Ryan Dillon (D): I believe in compassionate care for Missouri patients, which is why I am supporting Constitutional Amendment 2. In Missouri, there are thousands of patients who suffer from conditions where medical marijuana could help ease their pain. From cancer to epilepsy to PTSD in our veterans, medical marijuana has proven to be a successful treatment option. This initiative puts power in the hands of state-licensed physicians to determine who will benefit from medical marijuana; it will also maintain the prohibition of public use and driving under the influence. Additionally, the Journal of American Medicine found that opioid prescriptions decrease when states adopt medical marijuana laws. Finally, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will oversee the licensing and implementation allowing for effective and efficient regulation.
Amendment 2 puts into place an appropriate tax and will generate revenue for healthcare for veterans in Missouri. This amendment is the right choice for Missouri.
Constitutional Amendment 3 (medical marijuana)
Justin Brown (R): This is the most troubling of all medical marijuana proposals. It puts one man in Springfield in charge of the entire medical marijuana industry in the state. This is the most controversial of the three medical marijuana proposals. I will be voting “no.”
Ryan Dillon (D): While I support medical marijuana, I do not support Constitutional Amendment 3. It is troubling that this constitutional amendment inherently places specific individuals in roles of authority. This amendment would establish a Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute that would put the individual who is funding this amendment’s campaign in charge of the board of directors of the institute. Additionally, it would give him the authority to choose the board members. This is a poorly formulated initiative that has uncertain consequences if passed.
Constitutional Amendment 4 (bingo)
Justin Brown (R): Unfortunately, BINGO is a part of our state’s constitution. This means that any time changes are desired, it must go to a vote of the people. In this instance, voters are determining small changes to the constitution regarding BINGO advertising and what individuals are in charge of BINGO games. I support these small changes.
Ryan Dillon (D): I stand with the Missouri VFW in support of Constitutional Amendment 4. Currently, charitable organizations use bingo as a source of revenue, but there are a variety of obstacles they must first overcome. I support lowering the time required that someone is a member of an organization to manage a bingo game and I support removing the constitutional ban on organizations advertising bingo games. This amendment would make it easier for local organizations to raise money for deserving organizations and important causes in Missouri.
Proposition B (increase minimum wage)
Justin Brown (R): I do not support increasing the minimum wage. I believe wages should be determined between an employer and the employee.
Ryan Dillon (D): Over the years, the cost of groceries, housing and other necessities have increased, yet wages have remained stagnant. In Missouri, there are families who depend on minimum wage jobs to support themselves and their families. Full-time, minimum wage workers currently earn approximately $16,000 annually, which averages out to $314 a week. I support Proposition B because I believe Missourians should not have to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet and afford the basic necessities for their families.
Raising the minimum wage will inject new money into our local economies and create new customers for businesses. Minimum wage jobs are not meant to be a career and in the Missouri State Senate, I will fight for increased investments in education, the opportunity it brings to our community, and the impact it has on every level of Missouri’s economy. Empowering people through education leads to productivity, prosperity, and purpose. A skilled workforce is a successful workforce.
Proposition C (medical cannabis)
Justin Brown (R): In my opinion, this is the least controversial of the three medical marijuana proposals as it does not change the state’s constitution. I am opposed to this ballot initiative because it did not go through the full vetting of the legislative process including hearings, robust debate, etc.
Ryan Dillon (D): Generally speaking, Proposition C is a good ballot initiative and if Amendment 2 did not appear on the ballot in November, I would support Proposition C. However, if the people of Missouri decide medical marijuana is the right choice for our state, Amendment 2 will ensure protections that prevent overreach by our state legislature. I support these protections, thus I will be voting no on Proposition C.
Proposition D (gas tax)
Justin Brown (R): This gas tax has the support of Gov. Parson, Lt. Governor Kehoe and the Missouri Farm Bureau. It promises local funding for counties as well. It will be up to legislators to ensure these funds will be used as promised. This is a moderate increase to the gas tax and it will be funded by those using the roads. Missouri voters have been reluctant to approve these tax increases in the past and the fate of this proposal is in the hands of the voters.
Ryan Dillon (D): Unlike my opponent, I have not been on both sides of this issue, nor was my belief influenced by special interests and lobbyists. I continue to stand with Governor Mike Parson in support of a bipartisan proposal to increase the gas tax. As long as the funding from the increased gas tax is used for its appropriate purpose, this bipartisan proposal is a commonsense solution to a problem that affects all Missourians.
Deteriorating roads and crumbling bridges are not a partisan issue, they are a public safety issue. Missouri has not seen an increase in its gas tax for two decades and the current state of our infrastructure reflects that. The current bipartisan proposal would raise the gas tax by 2.5 cents per year over four years, moving our state just above the national average and costing the average Missourian $1.25 per month.
If passed, this proposition is projected to raise approximately $290 million annually for roads and bridges. Additionally, it would increase funding for the Highway Patrol and generate $123 million for city and county projects. By investing in infrastructure, we would attract new businesses, create good-paying jobs, and decrease the amount of money Missourians spend on vehicle maintenance.