When the Missouri House convenes on January 4, 2017, it will be made up of 117 Republicans and 46 Democrats, a margin of 8 over the necessary 109 for a veto-proof majority. The Missouri Senate will have 24 Republicans and 10 Democrats. With a Republican governor, the veto overrides probably won’t be a big issue for the next few years, as the numerous overrides we have seen in the recent past will most likely not be repeat performances. All it takes to pass a bill is a simple majority and the governor’s signature. The General Assembly and the executive branch will likely work together on shared priorities.
Let’s take a quick look at the ballot measure results:
Constitutional Amendment #1 - Missouri Parks, Soils, and Water Sales Tax:
More than 80% of state voters chose to support Constitutional Amendment #1. Thus, the ballot measure will continue the 1/10 of 1% sales/use tax that is used to support soil and water conservation, and the state parks and historic sites. The renewal of this tax is re-submitted to voters every ten years in compliance with our state’s constitution and will again come before voters in 2026. This tax generates approximately $90 million each year, to be divided equally between soil and water districts and state parks. The revenue from this tax funds programs designed to help prevent millions of tons of our state’s soil from eroding, while also helping to maintain and improve Missouri’s 88 state parks and historic sites.
Constitutional Amendment #2 - Campaign Contribution Limits:
Constitutional Amendment #2 was supported by nearly 70% of our state's voters, and, consequently, passed with a strong majority vote. Missourians desire to re-establish a limit to campaign contributions. Previously, we had limits in place that were approved by voters in 1994; however, those limits were repealed by the General Assembly in 2008. The state constitution will limit contributions to individual candidates to $2,600 per election, and it will limit contributions to political parties to $25,000 each election. The amendment is designed to prevent individuals and entities from intentionally concealing the source of the contribution. It will also create a complaint process and penalty for violations of its requirements. This amendment will most likely find its way to the Missouri Supreme Court for them to help determine its constitutionality.
Constitutional Amendment #4 - Prohibition on New Sales and Use Taxes:
Constitutional Amendment #4 received 57% of the affirmative vote, and is now set to become a part of Missouri’s Constitution. Its purpose is to prohibit any new state or local sales or use taxes on services into the future. In effect, the proposal will ensure that governmental entities do not create new taxes on services, such as haircuts or vehicle repairs. In recent years, several states have enacted taxes on these types of services in efforts to make up for declining revenues coming into their states. With the passage of Amendment #4, Missourians will be assured that similar service taxes will not be imposed upon them.
Constitutional Amendment #6 - Voter Photo Identification:
With more than 63% of voter approval, Constitutional Amendment #6 received strong support by those who want to see our state implement a system of voter photo ID. With the passage of this amendment to our state’s constitution and legislation approved by Missouri’s General Assembly, voters in Missouri will be required to show a valid form of photo ID before voting in future elections. Valid forms of identification will include photo ID issued by the state, the federal government, or the military. The proposal will also require the state to pay for those individuals to obtain a valid ID if they do not have one and cannot afford one, or for them to obtain documents necessary for a proper ID. Additionally, the new law contains a provision that will allow a voter without a valid photo ID to vote with a regular ballot by showing another form of identification. Supporters of the voter photo ID maintain it is important in protecting the integrity of Missouri’s election system. Showing a photo ID will help to prevent voter fraud by requiring each voter to prove his or her identity.
Constitutional Amendment #3 and Proposition A, both proposals to increase the state tobacco tax, were defeated by voters. Constitutional Amendment #3 was defeated by 60% and Proposition A was rejected by 56%. Voters seemed to realize that these issues were really about big tobacco versus little tobacco. Missouri’s tobacco tax remains at 17 cents, the lowest in the nation.
Certainly the face of state government will soon be changing, but Missourians spoke at the polls on more than just statewide office positions. They made their feelings very clear on the campaign contribution issue, the voter photo ID question, and new proposed taxes. They understood the positive results of the existing soil, water, and state park and historic site tax, and overwhelmingly chose to keep it. It is now up to those of whom voters placed their trust to prove themselves worthy of the voters’ confidence. It is also time for the ones directing the soil, water, and state park programs to once again prove themselves capable and conscientious handlers of Missourians’ tax monies designated for those programs. We will look for—and expect—nothing but the best from all concerns.