Representative Ed Lewis's Capitol Report
A Final Look at the 2022 Ballot Initiatives on the November Ballot
On November 8 Missourians will head to the polls not only to vote for the individuals they think will best serve the people of Missouri, but also to consider potential changes to the Missouri Constitution. In total, voters will have four constitutional amendments to consider, as well as a question on whether the state should convene a constitutional convention that could draft a new constitution for the state.
Below is an overview of the various measures Missourians will consider when they cast their vote in November:
Amendment 1 would change the constitution to remove some of the restrictions on the State Treasurer when making state investments. The constitutional amendment was added to the ballot by the Missouri General Assembly with the passage of HJR 35 in 2021. The legislature approved the measure with the intent of allowing the treasurer to invest in higher interest earning investments while still preventing risky investments. If approved by voters, it would allow state investments in municipal securities possessing one of the top five highest long- term ratings or the highest short-term rating. If approved, state governmental entities estimate no costs and increased interest revenue of $2 million per year. If passed, the measure will have no impact on taxes.
If approved by voters, Amendment 3 would legalize recreational marijuana in Missouri. The proposed change to the state constitution was added to the ballot through the initiative petition process. The five largest donors to the campaign to legalize recreational marijuana are all current marijuana companies. In other words, they wrote the law that they want to regulate their own industry.
Amendment 3 would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to three ounces of cannabis. The law would use some of the revenue to facilitate automatic expungements for people with certain marijuana offenses on their records.
The Department of Health and Senior Services would be responsible for regulating the program and issuing licenses for cannabis businesses. Regulators would be required to issue at least 144 microbusiness licenses, doubling the number of dispensaries in Missouri. New marijuana businesses would be targeted to communities who have been disproportionately impacted by drug criminalization, so that communities which have the highest problems with drug use would get more marijuana businesses. Existing medical marijuana dispensaries would also be first in line to sell marijuana to recreational consumers with dual licenses.
Local jurisdictions would only be able to opt out of permitting cannabis microbusinesses or retailers from operating in their area if they passed a ban through a specifically worded ballot measure only during a November presidential general election with a high threshold of 60%.
Supporters say the amendment will legalize, tax, and regulate recreational marijuana for adult use in Missouri.
Opponents of the measure have criticized the concept of putting marijuana legalization into the state constitution rather than state statute. They say putting it in the constitution makes it too difficult to change and adapt to unforeseen issues and medical problems caused by rampant marijuana use.
Opponents also point out that the law prohibits regulating the concentration of the Marijuana’s THC content which is now 10x higher than in the 1980s. Opponents point out that the direction of the small 6% sales tax will be targeted to specific uses like the public defender system and expungement of criminal records, not general revenue. Additionally, opponents have voiced concerns that the expungement policy contained in Amendment 3 is “misleading” and “problematic.”
Amendment 4 is a proposed change to the state constitution that is designed to protect funding for the Kansas City Police Department. The measure was placed on the ballot by the General Assembly with the passage of SJR 38 during the 2022 legislative session.
The legislature approved both SJR 38 and SB 678 as a response to efforts by Kansas City to remove $42 million from a previously-agreed-upon budget for the Kansas City Police Department. The goal of the two proposals is to ensure the city is not able to artificially manipulate its general fund in order to cut the budget for the department. If Amendment 4 is approved by voters, the two measures would work together to require the city of Kansas City to provide one-fourth of its general revenue per fiscal year to fund the Kansas City Board of Police. State and local governmental entities estimate no additional costs or savings related to this proposal. If passed, the measure will have no impact on taxes.
Voters will have the opportunity to vote on Amendment 5, which would create a Missouri Department of the National Guard. The proposed change to the constitution was placed on the ballot by the Missouri General Assembly with the passage of HJR 116 earlier this year.
Lawmakers supported the measure to provide a proper chain of command between the National Guard and the governor, and to provide a more streamlined budget process. The Missouri National Guard is currently under the Missouri Department of Public Safety. Amendment 5 would create the Missouri Department of the National Guard, which would be required to protect the constitutional rights and civil liberties of Missourians.
Currently, 48 states have departments of defense or military affairs operated by their adjutants general. These departments oversee the military forces of each state. Missouri and Massachusetts are the only two states who do not have their own departments in the same manner.
Constitutional Convention Question
This November voters will also have the opportunity to call for a Constitutional Convention to revise or amend the state constitution. The question is placed on the ballot automatically every 20 years.
If voters approve the question, the governor will then call an election of delegates to serve at the convention. Elections would be held to choose 68 delegates from partisan state senate district balloting and 15 nonpartisan at-large delegates in a statewide vote. A convention could consider everything about how the state is governed. The convention could adopt ideas that are supported by a majority of the 83 delegates. Any revisions or amendments approved by the convention would then be put to a vote of the people for their consideration.
The state constitution was last approved by voters in February 1945. Missourians have voted three times - 1962, 1982 and 2002 - on the question of whether to hold a convention. The “yes” side on the last vote was less than 35%. If passed, the measure will have no impact on taxes.
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