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Marijuana Scores Some Big Wins on Election Day

The federal government may still label marijuana as a prohibited drug, but state prohibitions continue to fall.

 

Voters in four states decided on ballot measures concerning marijuana. In three of those states, pro-pot advocates came out victorious.

 

The biggest win for marijuana backers was in Michigan. Voters in that state approved the recreational use of marijuana. With the passage of this measure, Michiganders who are over 21 can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to 12 plants for their own consumption. The sale of marijuana is also permitted. Michigan joins 9 other states and the District of Columbia in permitting recreational marijuana use.

 

Voters in Missouri and Utah approved medical marijuana measures. In Missouri, voters chose from three competing proposals to legalize and tax the medicinal use of marijuana. They approved the one that had the lowest tax rate and that would fund veteran services. In Utah, the governor and legislators had agreed to convene a special session to deal with medical marijuana legislation regardless of what voters decided.

 

North Dakota voters bucked the trend by rejecting that state’s ballot initiative that would have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. That measure garnered the support of only 41% of voters.

 

Earlier this year, Oklahoma voters approved a medical marijuana initiative.

 

Do you support legalizing marijuana for recreational use?

Dueling Medical Marijuana Initiatives on Missouri Ballot

 

Missouri voters will have the chance to make Missouri the 31st state to legalize medicinal marijuana. To accomplish this, however, they will have to choose between three amendments on November’s ballots, each presenting a different way to legalize marijuana for medical use.

 

The three measures that qualified for inclusion on this year’s ballot are Amendment 2, Amendment 3, and Proposition C. Each one would remove legal penalties for using medical marijuana, but each has a different tax rate and different use for tax revenue.

 

Amendment 2 would tax medical marijuana at a 4% rate, using the revenue for health care and veteran care. Amendment 3 would establish a 15% tax rate on medical marijuana, using that revenue to fund medical research into curing cancer and other diseases. Proposition C would not amend the state constitution, unlike the other two ballot questions. Instead, it would change state law, imposing a 2% tax rate on medical marijuana to be used for health care, drug treatment, public safety, and early childhood education.

 

When there are competing ballot measures concerning the same subject, the one with the most votes generally prevails. However, there could be a legal question if Proposition C, which is merely a statutory change, gains more vote than either of the constitutional amendments. Constitutional amendments are a higher source of authority than a change in state law, so it is likely that the state Supreme Court will decide which measure prevails if that situation occurs.

 

Do you support legalizing medical marijuana?

 

Missouri Set to Vote on Right-to-Work Law

 

In 2017, Missouri legislators and then-Governor Eric Greitens enacted a law that would make Missouri a right-to-work state. Labor groups organized to stop this legislation through the referendum process. As a result, over a year later, voters will determine the future of organized labor in Missouri.

 

If voters pass Proposition A on August 7, it will enshrine the state’s right-to-work act into law. This would end the requirement that Missouri workers either join a union or pay a fee to a union as a condition of employment.

 

After Republicans took both houses of the legislature and governor’s mansion with the election of Gov. Greitens, they made passage of a right-to-work law a priority. Labor leaders have been able to delay its enactment through the veto referendum process. By collecting signatures and placing it on the ballot, voters have a chance to veto this law by voting “no.”

 

Supporters of right-to-work legislation say that no one should be forced to join a union or pay a fee to a union in order to work. They contend that unions should attract workers and their money voluntarily, not through the state forcing workers to fund labor organizations. Those opposed to these laws contend that since unions bargain on behalf of every worker at a business, no worker should be able to “free ride” on the benefits provided by unions.

 

If affirmed by the voters, Missouri would become the 28th state to enact right-to-work legislation.

 

Do you support right-to-work laws? Should workers be free to decide on whether to pay dues or fees to a union? Or are workers who refuse to join a union or pay fees to it free-riding off that union’s efforts on behalf of them?

 

Missouri Pushes for Federal Term Limits Amendment

 

Members of the Missouri General Assembly are subject to term limits. Now they want members of the U.S. Congress to face term limits, too.

 

As the legislative session was ending in Jefferson City, Missouri legislators passed a concurrent resolution calling on Congress to convene a convention of states to consider proposing a term limits amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Article V of the Constitution requires Congress to call such a convention if two-thirds of the states request it.

 

This resolution did not specify how many terms such an amendment would impose upon members of Congress. In Missouri, state senate members are limited to two four-year terms while state representatives are limited to four two-year terms.

 

In the early 1990s, some states had imposed term limits on members of Congress in addition to state legislators. The Supreme Court struck down these congressional term limits in 1995, saying that states cannot add qualifications for members of the federal House of Representatives or Senate that go beyond what the Constitution allows. The only way to impose such amendments would be to change the Constitution, which is what Missouri’s legislators are attempting to do.

 

Supporters of term limits say they are a way to end politicians who make a career out of public service. They contend that term limits are necessary to return to the days of citizen legislators. Term limits opponents counter that voters have a chance on Election Day to reject politicians who serve too long.

 

If enough states did succeed in their call for a constitutional convention, any amendment that resulted would still need to be approved by three-fourths of the states to become part of the Constitution.

 

Do you think that there should be a constitutional convention to propose a term limits constitutional amendment?

 

Missouri Legislators Tackle Marriage Age, Abortion, and Charter Schools

 

The political news in Missouri is dominated by the scandal surrounding Governor Eric Greitens, who is facing a criminal trial and announced Tuesday he would resign effective Friday at 5 p.m. In the face of the media circus surrounding the governor, the work of governing must go on. Legislators recently completed work on a variety of bills for the year. Here are how some of the big issues fared during this year’s Missouri legislative session:

 

Marriage age: It will no longer be possible for someone under 16 to get married in Missouri. Legislators passed a bill that prohibits marriage under this age and requires anyone who is 16 or 17 to get his or her parents’ permission to get married. Anyone who is over 21 will not be able to marry anyone under 18.

 

Lieutenant governor appointment: The Senate passed a measure that would allow the governor to appoint a lieutenant governor if there is a vacancy in that office. The Senate would confirm this appointment. The House rejected this proposal, however, leaving unclear the process for filling a vacancy in that office. This issue was highlighted in the legislature because Gov. Greitens could have been removed from office. He has since announced his resignation, and the current lieutenant governor will assume the governorship.

 

Gas tax: Legislators voted to place a ballot measure before voters in November that would raise the gas tax by 10 cents per gallon. The increase from the current tax rate of 17 cents per gallon to 27 cents per gallon would be phased in through 2022. The proceeds are slated to fund road projects and the highway patrol.

 

Charter schools: Currently, Missouri only allows charter schools to operate in Kansas, St. Louis, and unaccredited school districts. Legislation to expand charter schools statewide received support from two House committees but never received a vote from the full House.

 

Abortion: The House passed a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks. The Senate failed to take this measure up.

 

Non-discrimination: A House committee passed legislation that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations. The full House never considered the bill, however.

 

Do you think that the marriage age should be set at 16? Should abortions after 20 weeks be banned? Do you support expanding the use of charter schools?

 

Hemp, Juvenile Crime, Welfare Reform Hot Topics in Missouri

 

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens may be embroiled in scandal, but legislators in Jefferson City are busy passing bills, trying not to let the governor’s troubles affect their work. The 2018 legislative session has dealt with a number of issues. Among them, legislators have passed bills that would legalize the industrial use of hemp, reform juvenile justice, and limit how welfare recipients can use their EBT cards.

 

Industrial hemp

 

Under legislation passed by both houses of the legislature, Missourians will be able to grow hemp for industrial uses if they apply for a permit, are fingerprinted, and pass a background check. The state’s Department of Agriculture would set up regulations for the growing and processing of hemp. It would also inspect farms. If hemp has a THC content above .3%, the department would destroy it.

 

Juvenile justice reform

 

Currently in Missouri, 17-year-olds who are accused of crimes are tried as adults. Only four other states set the age for being tried as an adult to 18. Under legislation passed by the state Senate, this would change. This bill would change the age of adult jurisdiction to 18. Supporters contend that it will not only save the state money by reducing incarceration rates, it will also give youth in the criminal justice system a better opportunity for reform.

 

Welfare restrictions

 

Under legislation being considered in the state House of Representatives, recipients of government benefits could no longer use their electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards to withdraw cash at ATM machines. In addition, the bill further specifies what items would be prohibited from being purchased with these cards and where the cards could be used. An amendment was also added during consideration of the bill that would increase penalties for recipients who misuse government benefits. Supporters of this bill say that it is needed to ensure that these benefits are not abused. Opponents contend that these provisions will only make life more difficult for benefit recipients and that parts of the bill violate federal law.

 

Do you think that industrial hemp should be legalized? Should 17-year-olds be tried for crimes in adult or juvenile court? Should more restrictions be placed on the use of EBT cards?

 

 

Missouri House Bill 2

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Missouri, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Missouri House Bill 2, Appropriations for Education: Passed 119 to 34 in the state House on April 6, 2017.

 

To spend $6,029,363,067 for various educational expenses.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Missouri House Bill 2!

 

 

Missouri House Bill 7

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Missouri, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Bill 7, Appropriations for the Economic Development, Insurance, and Labor Departments: Passed 115 to 38 in the state House on April 6, 2017. 

 

To spend $301,156,373 for the Department of Economic Development, $43,833,994 for the
Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration, and $212,298,975 for the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Missouri House Bill 7!

 

 

Missouri Senate Bill 5

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Missouri, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 5, Expand Regulation of Abortion: Passed 20 to 8 in the state Senate on June 15, 2017.

 

To modify several provisions of state law relating to abortion, including: (1) requirements for post-abortion tissue reports; (2) giving the attorney general jurisdiction over abortion laws; (3) preempting local government abortion regulations; (4) whistle-blower protections for reporting violations of abortion laws; (5) the definition of abortion facilities and licensure of doctors in those facilities; and (6) requirements for regular inspections of abortion facilities.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Missouri Senate Bill 5!

 

 

Missouri Senate Bill 5

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Missouri, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 5, Expand Regulation of Abortion: Passed 20 to 8 in the state Senate on June 15, 2017.

 

To modify several provisions of state law relating to abortion, including: (1) requirements for post-abortion tissue reports; (2) giving the attorney general jurisdiction over abortion laws; (3) preempting local government abortion regulations; (4) whistle-blower protections for reporting violations of abortion laws; (5) the definition of abortion facilities and licensure of doctors in those facilities; and (6) requirements for regular inspections of abortion facilities.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Missouri Senate Bill 5!

 

 

Missouri Senate Bill 182

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Missouri, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 182, Ban Union Preference on Government Contracts Passed 23 to 9 in the state Senate on May 15, 2017.

 

To prevent the state or local governments from requiring or giving preference to bidders for public works projects who are parties to union contracts, or discriminating against those who are not, for any project involving taxpayer funding.  Currently there is a 50% state funding threshold for the non-discrimination provisions to kick in.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Missouri Senate Bill 182! 

 

Missouri Senate Bill 240

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Missouri, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 240, Impose a state licensure mandate on electricians: Passed 33 to 0 in the state Senate on April 6, 2017

 

To create a statewide license for electrical contractors.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Missouri Senate Bill 240!

 

Missouri Senate Bill 395

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Missouri, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 395, Lower minimum age for accountant licensing: Passed 33 to 0 in the state Senate on April 6, 2017

 

To lower the age that someone can become licensed as an accountant from 21 to 18 and revise several definitions related to the profession of accountancy.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Missouri Senate Bill 395!

 

Sanctuary Cities for Abortion?



The notion of “sanctuary cities,” where local officials do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities, is well-known, if controversial. Now St. Louis is trying to set itself up as a sanctuary city for abortion. That has prompted a lot of controversy in Missouri.

 

Earlier this year, St. Louis passed an ordinance that prohibited an employer or a housing provider from discriminating against women for their “reproductive choices.” This means that an employer could not fire an employee because she got an abortion, but it also means that a pro-life family planning clinic would be forced to hire an applicant who was intending to have an abortion.

 

During their regular session this year, legislators attempted to pass a law that would have overturned the St. Louis ordinance. Such a bill cleared the House of Representatives, but failed in the Senate. Governor Eric Greitens has called a special session of the legislature in another attempt to get a pre-emption law passed.

 

This special session has undertaken a wider agenda than just dealing with the St. Louis ordinance, however. Lawmakers are also considering bills that would impose a variety of restrictions on abortions, such as unannounced inspections of clinics and providing the attorney general power to prosecute abortion law violations.

 

It is unclear what, if any, legislation will come from the special session.

 

Do you support the concept of a “sanctuary city” for abortion? Or do you think that Missouri legislators are on the right track by imposing more restrictions on abortion?

 

Missouri House Bill 174

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Missouri, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Bill 174, Protect pro-life speech and rights of conscience: Passed 105 to 44 in the state House on March 30, 2017

 

To prevent municipalities from limiting the rights of speech afforded to abortion-alternative providers, or requiring support of or participation in programs, services, or activities related to abortion if such participation is contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of such person.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Missouri House Bill 174!

 

Missouri House Bill 441

 

Check out this key bill passed by elected officials in Missouri, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Bill 441, Require school free speech policies: Passed 148 to 6 in the state House on March 13, 2017

 

To require each school districts and public colleges to adopt a written student freedom of expression policy which must include reasonable provisions for the time, place, and manner of student expression, and to affirm the right of student journalists to the exercise of freedom of speech and of the press in school sponsored media.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Missouri House Bill 441!

 

Missouri Senate Bill 182: Ban union preference on government contracts

 

Check out this key bill passed by elected officials in Missouri, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 182, Ban union preference on government contracts: Passed 23 to 9 in the state Senate on February 16, 2017

 

To prevent the state or local governments from requiring or giving preference to bidders for public works projects who are parties to union contracts, or discriminating against those who are not, for any project involving taxpayer funding.  Currently there is a 50% state funding threshold for the non-discrimination provisions to kick in.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Missouri Senate Bill 182!

 

Missouri Senate Bill 329: Update warranty repair mandates for car dealerships

 

Check out this key bill passed by elected officials in Missouri, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 329, Update warranty repair mandates for car dealerships: Passed 31 to 0 in the state Senate on March 16, 2017

 

To revise a law that prohibits consumers from having warranty repairs done at the shop of their choice and only permits franchise dealers to do that work. This bill would remove confusion about how the law applies to engine manufacturers.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Missouri Senate Bill 329!

 

Missouri: House Bill 130: Regulate ride sharing services

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Missouri, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Bill 130, Regulate ride sharing services: Passed 140 to 16 in the state House on January 26, 2017

 

To establish a regulatory framework that would enable “transportation network companies” like Uber and Lyft to operate in this state, including a preemption on local government regulations or bans.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Missouri House Bill 130!

 

Updates to Missouri Senate Bill 19: Adopt a "right to work" law

 

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Missouri, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 19, Adopt a "right to work" law: Passed 21 to 12 in the state Senate on January 26, 2017 and 100 to 59 in the state House on February 2, 2017

 

To prohibit employers from requiring employees to join or financially support a labor union as a condition of employment.

 

Senate Bill 19, Submit 'right-to-work' law to statewide voter referendum: Failed 12 to 21 in the state Senate on January 23, 2017 and 64 to 91 in the state House on February 2, 2017

 

To submit to the voters in November of 2018 a referendum to prohibit employers from requiring employees to join or financially support a labor union as a condition of employment.

 

Senate Bill 19, Limit union ability to delay right-to-work law in workplace: Failed 10 to 20 in the state Senate on January 25, 2017 and 60 to 98 in the state House on February 2, 2017

 

To delete language from the new Missouri right-to-work law that defines any changes made to an existing collective bargaining agreement as essentially making it a new agreement. The law becomes effective in a particular workplace only after its current union contract expires. In some states that recently enacted right-to-work laws, public employee unions and employers claimed to make themselves exempt by extending the duration of existing contracts. Missouri's law prohibits doing that here, and the amendment would have removed that language.

 

Senate Bill 19, Change the penalty for violating right-to-work law: Failed 12 to 20 in the state Senate on January 24, 2017

 

To change the penalty for violations of a Missouri right-to-work law from a "class C misdemeanor" to an "infraction" (which means no threat of jail or prison).

 

Comment below to share what you think of Missouri Senate Bill 19!

 

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