The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 5, 2012

Cigarette tax among questions on ballot

By Emily Younker
eyounker@joplinglobe.com

— Missouri voters on Tuesday will have the option of approving four separate questions on a variety of issues.

 

AMENDMENT 3: If approved, this proposal would amend the state constitution to change the current nonpartisan selection of Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges. Under the proposal, the governor would have increased authority to appoint a majority of the commission that selects nominees to the courts. It would also remove the requirement that the governor’s appointees to the commission not be lawyers.

Supporters say approval of the amendment would allow Missourians to hold the governor accountable for his choices of appointments to the commission.

Opponents have said that those who favor the amendment are trying to put more power into the state’s executive branch of government. Some also say that the current nonpartisan system of selecting judges isn’t broken and, therefore, not in need of change.

If approved, no estimated costs or savings are expected.

PROPOSITION A: This proposal, if approved by voters, would give the city of St. Louis control of its police force, which is currently overseen by a governor-appointed board. It would also establish procedures for the city to govern the police force and prohibit retaliation against police employees who report an activity they think is illegal.

Supporters say the proposition would hold the police force more accountable, as the chief would report directly to the city. They also hope approval of the proposal would force police officers to be more responsive to residents.

Opponents argue that the ballot language would limit input from residents and deny them the option of having a residents’ review board over the police force.

Annual savings could be up to $500,000, according to the state government. Local government groups estimate annual savings could be as high as $3.5 million.

PROPOSITION B: This ballot issue deals with a proposed increase in the state’s cigarette tax.

If approved, the proposal would raise the state tax by 73 cents to 90 cents per pack. Proceeds would go toward tobacco-usage education and to elementary, secondary and higher education. The proposal would also increase the amount that some manufacturers of tobacco products would be required to keep in escrow accounts for potential judgments or settlements.

Supporters say the proposal would discourage smoking and increase funding to education in the state.

Opponents say the tax increase would hurt Missouri businesses that currently enjoy a competitive advantage over businesses in higher-taxed bordering states.

Additional annual revenue for the state, to fund only programs and services as directed by the proposal, is estimated to be between $283 million and $423 million.

PROPOSITION E: This proposal, if approved, would prohibit the governor or state agencies from operating state-based health insurance exchanges, which essentially are online marketplaces to compare insurance plans, without approval from voters or the Legislature.

Supporters have indicated the proposal could delay implementation of the new federal health care law. Opponents have said the proposal will ultimately not have an effect on health insurance exchanges because the federal health care law, which requires exchanges, will become effective within a few years.

Direct costs or savings are not expected.