Columbia, MO October 20, 2010 by David Rosman
I have a personal rule when it comes to voting on issue campaigns, especially if those issues concern a change in the state Constitution. In a bit more than one-week, my rules will be put to their bi-annual test.
I have taken a hard-line position concerning voting for a proposed to the state or federal constitutional amendment. Unless it directly concerns the management of the government’s affairs or is giving citizens a new “right,” I vote “No.” Have you seen our state Constitution? The federal Constitution takes about 20 pages, with notes. The Missouri Constitution is 199 pages without notes.
One reason to place a law in the state or the federal Constitution is simple. Once passed, it is nearly impossible to amend or repeal. I have a simple standard when it comes to amending a Constitution, “Will this proposed amendment help the government operate more effectively? Does it protect the rights of the citizens? Or, is the proposal only a political ploy?”
My recommendation: Vote “No” on all three 2010 proposed Missouri Amendments.
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to require the office of county assessor to be an elected position in all counties with a charter form of government, except counties with a population between 600,001- 699,999?
On the surface, this seems like a good idea; allow the people to elect their county assessors. Good idea, bad Amendment. The problem is the numbers stuck at the end of the proposed Amendment.
It seems that Jackson County, home to Kansas City, lobbied for an exemption. According to Dan Ferguson spokes person for Jackson County, the expected 2010 census will put the citizen count around 660,000 and, therefore, Jackson County would be exempt from requiring an elected assessor.
The Missouri Census Data Center puts the 2009 population for Jackson County at 705,000 residents and not exempt. Does Jackson County need better lobbyists? Does anyone know what happened to the 45,000 missing residents?
Though this is a “management” Amendment, by exempting the second largest county in the state, the proposal is flawed.
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to require that all real property used as a homestead by Missouri citizens who are former prisoners of war and have a total service connected disability be exempt from property taxes?
This proposal is adding some minor language into the Constitution’s section 6 of Article X. This section will permit specific property tax exemptions for those who were prisoners of war, indeed a small group in Missouri. The ballot language says the loss of income to the state is about $1,200.
How about exemptions for families of those Missing in Action (MIA) and the families of current prisoners of war or MIA? How about for all vets? There is the ticket. This is nothing more than a political ploy for the veterans’ vote.
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to prevent the state, counties, and other political subdivisions from imposing any new tax, including a sales tax, on the sale or transfer of homes or any other real estate?
No new taxes on the sale or transfer of property. Yippy!
Wait one dang minute, there partner. This would prevent all new taxes, not just taxes concerning the sale or transfer of real property as it is being sold. This is far beyond the confinements of the Hancock Amendment. This will strangle the state, prevent any future growth and deny everyone the benefits the state provides, from maintaining our highways to scholarships for our students to providing the services for those who cannot afford those services on their own.
Doesn’t the Hancock Amendment already limit the implementation of new taxes? It seems so. Russ Hembree of Institute of Public Policy, Truman School of Public Affairs, “The general rule is that voter approval is required before any political subdivision can levy any ‘tax, license or fees’ not authorized when the Amendment was adopted or increase the current levy above the level at the time of adoption.”
Chuck Hatfield, a spokes person for the proposal, has not responded to my calls at the time of this writing.
This is another political ploy and so not right.
These Amendments are not smart politics. Vote “No” on all three.
David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com and New York Journal of Books.com.