Missouri ballot will be crowded with issues

05/19/2014 7:47 PM

05/19/2014 7:48 PM

Missouri voters will have a lot to think about this year when they step in the ballot booth: farms, guns, lottery tickets and taxes, to name just a few.

That’s because legislators referred an unusually large number of issues to the ballot — the most in 16 years.

Lawmakers this year approved six proposed constitutional amendments for the ballot, and others will be there as a result of measures passed in 2013.

The proposals will go before voters in November, unless Gov. Jay Nixon decides to schedule some for a different date, such as the August primaries.

The Democratic governor said Monday he didn’t believe it was necessary for the Republican-led legislature to try to amend the constitution so often.

“It seems to be a very activist way to go about trying to govern,” he said after an unrelated news conference.

The most prominent measure seeks a three-quarters-cent sales tax for roads and other transportation projects that is projected to raise $534 million annually for 10 years.

It would be the largest tax increase in Missouri history. Construction and business groups are expected to finance a multimillion-dollar campaign for the proposal.

Other measures may be more likely to drive turnout among rural and conservative voters, thus potentially benefiting Republican legislative candidates. One proposal would create a right to farm within the Missouri Constitution while another would fortify the right to keep and bear arms.

One of those Republican-backed measures could pre-empt an initiative petition organized by Democratic activists. It would authorize an early voting period before elections that would be substantially shorter than the one pursued by the initiative campaign.

Other proposals would:

Authorize a new lottery game benefiting state veterans homes.

Add electronic data to a list of things protected from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Allow evidence about prior criminal acts to be used against people facing prosecution for child sex offenses.

Give lawmakers new powers to override gubernatorial budget cuts.

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