Missourians! Looking for someone to tell you how to vote, what to think, and possibly what to wear while doing it? You’ve come to the right place!
Oh, fine, think for yourself if you insist, but here’s my take on the ballot for Tuesday’s election anyway.
US Senate: McCaskill (vote several times if possible)
Well, duh. Talent backs the Iraq war, still. He’s been against virtually everything I’ve been for, and vice versa, since he got into office. Most important, this is a crucial race to help Democrats take control of the Senate. We have a party system; the party in power chairs all the committees that decide what legislation reaches the floor. The Republican-dominated congress hasn’t done jack, and it’s time to vote the bums out.
Missouri State Auditor: Montee
I really don’t have strong feelings on this one. In the League of Women Voter’s guide, Thomas’s statement uses a bunch of bold face and underlining, which annoys me. Montee is both a CPA and a lawyer, probably good qualifications.
US Representative, 8th district: Hambacker
Veronica Hambacker is a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. She favors abortion rights and gay marriage. Naturally, I’m for her, and naturally, she has a snowball’s chance in hell.
Amendment 2: Yes
There have been repeated attempts in the legislature to ban stem cell research in Missouri. This is an opportunity for Missourians to go on record as supporting research, which will help attract funding to scientists in the state. The language of the bill is clear, despite various false claims made by opponents; it prohibits paying for eggs, it allows somatic cell nuclear transfer to make cloned blastocysts for research, but it prohibits implanting such blastocysts for development into cloned babies. If you think that a ball of two dozen cells is a person with all the legal rights of a person, then you should vote against this amendment. Otherwise, you should vote for it.
Amendment 3: Yes
Raises the tobacco tax. As of January 1, Missouri had the 2nd lowest cigarette tax in the country, beaten only by South Carolina, at 17 cents a pack. In Illinois it’s 98 cents, in Iowa 36, in Kansas 79. In Michigan it’s $2 a pack. This amendment would raise the tax by 4 cents a cigarette, to 97 cents a pack. We would then be the 22nd highest in the country, just above the middle. So it’s not exorbitant, and the tax goes to health care in a separate fund, not in the general revenue. It also discourages smoking, which kills people. What’s not to like?
Amendment 6: Yes
Exempts property of non-profit veterans’ organizations from state tax. Why not?
Amendment 7: Yes
This one is pretty misleading, the way it’s shown on the ballot. The real impact is in the “additional information” section. If you read the whole text, you’ll see that the main impact is not the part about state legislators who are convicted felons forfeiting state pensions, but a change in the operation of the Missouri Citizens’ Commission.
Turns out that back in 1996, the Missouri Citizens’ Commission was established to recommend salaries for state judges and legislators. Its recommendations can be overruled by a simple majority in the State Legislature, and they have been, every damn time. State judges haven’t had a raise since the Commission was formed, and it’s getting hard to attract people to the job, since good lawyers make pretty good money outside of government. This amendment would change the rules so that it takes a 2/3 majority in the State Legislature to overturn the Commission’s recommendations. Since legislators are reluctant to vote for a pay raise for anybody, this will make it a lot more likely that some raises will actually be awarded.
While it would be nice if the amendment made this a bit more obvious in the text on the ballot, I’m inclined to think that failing to pay legislators and judges reasonably is an invitation to graft and influence peddling.
Proposition B: Yes
Raises the state minimum wage to $6.50 an hour and adjusts for inflation annually. The current $5.15 an hour federal minimum wage, is the lowest it has ever been in buying power. In 1968, the minimum wage was $1.60, worth $7.92 in 1996 dollars; today, at $5.15, it’s worth $4.04 in 1996 dollars. Studies repeatedly show that raising the minimum wage does not reduce employment in minimum-wage jobs, and actually correlates with increased economic activity. People who work 40 hours a week ought to make enough money to live on. Paying them a little more may cut into profits at the very top, but they’ll spend that money locally and boost the economy.
Then you have your local races, and you’re on your own there.