Missouri voters pass higher minimum wage, ethics reforms. But not gas tax

Missouri voters on Tuesday easily approved a higher minimum wage, passed an initiative touting legislative ethics reform but said no to an increase in the state gasoline tax.

Facing a thicket of statewide ballot questions, Missourians supported Proposition B, a plan to increase the minimum wage over several years.

With the statewide wage floor currently at $7.85 per hour, the first boost in January would raise it to $8.60. By 2023, the minimum wage would reach $12 an hour.

With 93 percent of precincts reporting as of 11:30 p.m., Proposition B was drawing 60 percent of the vote.

In August 2017, Kansas City voters overwhelmingly supported a measure to raise the city’s minimum wage to levels higher than those set by Proposition B, reaching $15 an hour in 2022. That vote was undone when the state legislature and then-Gov. Eric Greitens passed a law banning municipalities from setting their own minimum wages.

‘Clean Missouri’

The “Clean Missouri” proposal, or Constitutional Amendment 1, will limit lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers and improve transparency in the General Assembly.

The ballot measure was passing late Tuesday with 62 percent of the vote.

One provision replaces the state’s system of drawing legislative districts. Presently, Missouri House and Senate districts are redrawn by bipartisan commissions. The Clean Missouri model aims to more fairly reflect the political parties’ share of the statewide vote in recent elections, with a nonpartisan demographer proposing district maps to the commissioners.

Also, lawmakers will be banned from accepting lobbyist gifts worth more than $5, and individual campaign contributions are limited to $2,500 for Senate candidates and $2,000 for House contenders.

Gas tax

Voters turned down a proposed 10-cent increase in the state gas tax, which would have been phased in over four years. The Missouri tax is 17 cents a gallon, which hasn’t changed since 1996. Every state around Missouri charges a higher gas tax.

Supporters of the fuel-tax increase, listed as Proposition D, said it could generate at least $288 million annually for the Highway Patrol and $123 million for municipalities to fund road construction. A report by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Missouri a C- for its infrastructure; roads earned a D+.

In Jefferson City, lawmakers of both political parties expressed concerns over how the extra revenue would be allocated.

In the end, nearly 54 percent of the votes were cast against the tax increase.

Bingo regulations

In the tightest of the ballot issues, Missouri Amendment 4 was drawing just over 52 percent of votes, a difference of about 107,000 votes. The measure would amend the state constitution by loosening restrictions on how much experience people operating bingo games must have.

For now the constitution requires two years of membership in an organization running bingo games. Amendment 4 backers sought to drop that to six months of service and ease rules on advertising the games.

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