The Buffalo Reflex does not endorse candidates, but people have asked us about the many constitutional amendments that are on the Nov. 5 ballot. Jessica Franklin Maull, editor of our sister newspaper in Bolivar, has done a good job of explaining the amendments, and her article can be found on Page 5A.
Beyond that, I will give you my unsolicited — and possibly unwanted — views on some of the amendments. I start with Amendment 1, which is called Campaign Finance and Ethics Reform and also is called “Clean Missouri.”
I am voting “No” on this one because it unnecessarily changes the system for redistricting districts for state representatives and state senators. Supposedly the reasoning behind the change is that there is too much “gerrymandering” under the present system. To gerrymander means to divide a voting area as to give one political party a majority in as many districts as possible or weaken the voting strength of an ethnic or racial group, urban population, etc.
This does not appear to be happening in Missouri. A 2017 study by The Associated Press found that Missouri’s districts now give Republicans slightly more representation than would be expected given the number of votes they receive. However, the AP study found that disparities do not reach an accepted threshold needed to legally prove gerrymandering.
Currently, bipartisan House and Senate commissions are tasked with redrawing the maps, which must receive 70 percent approval from commissioners. Under the proposed system, a demographer would be hired to divide the districts to make them more “competitive,” as close to 50 percent Republican and 50 percent Democrat as possible.
That is not the way districts should be divided.
They should be divided by geographical area and should keep entire counties and cities in single districts when possible. The Missouri Republican Party and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce believe the “Clean Missouri” initiative is an attempt by Democrats and out-of-state groups to elect more Democrats. They are concerned, and rightly so, that passage will result in less influence for rural Missouri.
Missouri Republicans also point out that more than $1 million in “dark money” has been donated to the “Clean Missouri” cause by out-of-state organizations, such as Action Now in Houston, Texas ($600,000), and $250,000 from George Soros. I’ve never agreed with George Soros on anything and don’t intend to start now.
How can you achieve a 50-50 ratio in southwest Missouri, which is so overwhelmingly Republican? You can’t without ... well, gerrymandering like we’ve never seen before. Even if our district remains unchanged, Kansas City districts could branch out into the suburbs and nearby rural areas. This most likely can’t be accomplished without the district looking like a salamander.
I am in favor of Proposition D, which would increase the state motor fuel tax by 10 cents by 2.5-cent increments each year for the next four years. The previous attempt to increase transportation funds through a sales tax was unfair because everyone would be taxed whether they drive or not. In sharp contrast, Proposition D would bring about a user tax — the more you drive, the more tax you will pay.
Funding for roads and bridges has not been increased in more than 22 years. In that time, the value of that money has been cut in more than half by inflation and increased cost of construction materials.
I oppose this initiative, which would increase the statewide minimum wage by 10 percent and place an automatic escalation clause raising it about 10 percent per year for the next four years. In 2023 the minimum wage would freeze at $12 per hour, a 53 percent increase from the current minimum wage.
This is too much of a long-term commitment without knowing what is going to happen with the economy. It also would be detrimental to small businesses and farmers.
It’s ridiculous for St. Louis to have the same minimum wage as Buffalo when the cost of living is probably twice as high in St. Louis. Therefore, I support cities such as St. Louis and Kansas City being able to raise their minimum wages. In relation to this, I also am a supporter of cities being laboratories to find out how well certain concepts work.
Incidentally, we’ve all heard radio commercials claiming that chambers of commerce and businesses across the state are strongly in favor of Proposition B. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce says that is completely false.
“To the contrary, our members are deeply concerned about this proposal. Passing such a sweeping minimum wage hike would make Missouri vastly uncompetitive and drive business and jobs away from Missouri,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the chamber.