Guest Commentary

Clean Missouri will help restore the balance of power between small towns and the state

State overreach makes it hard for small Missouri towns such as Weston to concentrate on what they do best, such as providing an enjoyable shopping experience for tourists.
State overreach makes it hard for small Missouri towns such as Weston to concentrate on what they do best, such as providing an enjoyable shopping experience for tourists. The Star

As the mayor of Weston, I believe in small, conservative government and low taxes to let my constituents lead their lives freely in our beautiful town.

The Missouri General Assembly is full of people who also claim to be small government conservatives, but they sure like to tell us what to do.

Like many small towns, we value our rural beauty. Here you can hike alongside the Missouri River and visit our small farms and businesses that provide fresh produce, gourmet ice cream, artisanal cheeses, craft beer, wine tastings, fine dining and delightful walking tours through our historic shopping district.

Unfortunately, municipalities like ours are told by the state legislature that we cannot control where utility towers go in our own town or how many electric wires can run across our scenery, nor what local infrastructure they can be attached to — and that we cannot charge these private corporations for these privileges.

You can imagine how this could be problematic for small Missouri towns that rely on our historic and natural beauty to inspire a vibrant tourism economy. We therefore also depend on sales taxes from the resulting purchases to help fund adequate services for our modest population. But the state legislature imposes controls on municipal sales taxes as well, making our budgeting process less than ideal.

Of course, Weston is not alone. This is a classic example of big government politicians ignoring our concerns because they think they know better than our own communities. And the General Assembly recently passed a law that will allow electric companies to raise rates much higher, meaning bigger bills for hardworking Missouri families who are trying to put food on the table.

It’s no wonder: Utility and electric companies are giving legislators huge campaign checks, while they hire lobbyists to feed politicians lavish meals at country clubs, take them out for drinks and trolley rides and offer to hire them when they leave the legislature. In the meantime, the General Assembly keeps its records secret, and insiders draw district maps to protect and re-elect powerful incumbents, whether they act in the best interests of the public or not.

We must put an end to this. There’s a reason our state’s founders created the power of the ballot initiative: We the people can still express our will if the legislature gets out of hand. That’s why I signed the Clean Missouri Initiative petition, and will be voting for the desperately-needed amendment in November.

Here is what Clean Missouri will do:

▪  Lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates.

▪  Eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly.

▪  Require politicians to wait two years before becoming lobbyists.

▪  Require that legislative records be open to the public.

▪  Ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census.

Clean Missouri will help ensure that our state representatives and senators represent our voices. Together, we can take back power from the big money and powerful lobbyists, while also making sure we have fairer and more competitive elections — so entrenched politicians can’t take our votes for granted. We must ensure that we're able to hold legislators accountable when they fail to act in the public interest.

I’m a conservative Republican, but good government is something we should all be able to agree on. No matter which party you support, your elected officials should be working for you, for my own constituents, and for everyday Missourians. If you’d like to get involved or learn more, I recommend visiting cleanmissouri.org.

Before serving as Mayor of Weston, Clifford Harvey served with the U.S. Marine Corps for 24 years, worked for a defense contractor and served on the Weston City Council.

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