Missouri voters will go to the polls this fall to decide whether to raise the minimum wage, institute sweeping ethics reforms and if the state should legalize medical cannabis.
After several groups campaigned progressively and gathered enough signatures across this Midwestern U.S. state and Missourians will vote on in the upcoming November ballot.
Jay Ashcroft, Missouri Secretary of State approved five initiative appeals to appear on the general election ballot this year.
Out of those five, two of the petitions aim to legalize medical cannabis by amending the Constitution of the state. While another medical cannabis-related petition sets its sights on legalizing the substance in state statute.
Clean Missouri campaign proposed another constitutional amendment that would change the process of the state in drawing legislative districts and would institute ethic reforms in Missouri.
The fifth petition that was certified by Ashcroft would raise the minimum wage to $8.65 per hour starting 2019 and increase it by $0.85 each year until it achieves $12 hourly in the year 2023.
According to the office of Ashcroft, any legal challenges to the five petitions must be filed on or before August 12.
Missouri Business for a Fair Minimum Wage and Raise Up Missouri both support the appeal to raise the minimum wage in the state.
They have urged Missourians to vote ‘yes’ in a public statement soon after Ashcroft announced the petitions he certified. Both organizations believe that raising the minimum wage will be beneficial for the economy of Missouri.
Pam Hausner, owner of Big Vision Design in Kansas City and the business campaign manager of Missouri Business for a Fair Minimum Wage said that the gradual increase in the minimum salary for Missourians would give the small businesses and even the big companies the time to adjust.
They would also benefit by saving costs from lower worker turnover and increased sales thanks to the better consumer buying power.
Jack Cardetti, the representative of the New Approach Missouri stated that his organization and the members of the campaign were excited that their constitutional amendment which aims to legalize medical cannabis will appear on the November ballot.
If successfully passed, their measure would tax medical cannabis sales and the funds would be then directed towards the health care programs for veterans through the Missouri Veterans Commission.
Cardetti added that he believes that it is time to put the patients and doctors back in charge of choosing the medical treatment option they prefer.
Voters from Missouri will also have a chance to weigh in on Clean Missouri, a measure with wide-ranging ethics reform that aims to get rid of most of the lobbyist gifts for the lawmakers of the state, further the limit of the contributions for legislative candidates, open records of the legislative body, change the way Missouri draws its legislative districts, and create a two-year time off period before officeholders can take lobbying jobs.
Clean Missouri would assign a nonpartisan specialist who would take over the process of drawing Senate districts and the Missouri House.
The planned districts would be then reviewed by a citizen group who would ensure that the districts are competitive. An independent demographer would then help create the maps and the districts would be redrawn soon after the 2020 census.
The President of the League of Women Voters of Missouri, Kathleen Boswell said that Clean Missouri is an opportunity to increase fairness, transparency, and integrity in the state government of Missouri.
“Year after year, politicians are re-elected with big money, in districts drawn by politicians and party insiders,” Boswell said in a release. “Amendment 1 limits the influence of special interests in the legislature and ensures no party is given an unfair advantage when redistricting occurs after the next census.”
Jack Danforth, a former U.S. Senator, and a Republican also said he supports the proposal in a release that was issued by Clean Missouri.
Danforth furthermore said that Amendment 1 will make sure that the elections will be competitive and fair. He also said that it will prevent elected officials from taking their voters for granted and will push them to earn their support.
“I’m proud to be part of a bipartisan group of reformers to ensure voters come first — and that Missourians’ voices will always be heard in our democracy,” Danforth said.
Although support for Clean Missouri is growing, not everyone is keen to have more transparency.
Critics have raised their concern with the issue that the measure proposed by the group is redistricting mechanism. They also pointed to contributions that the group may have received indirectly from the billionaire George Soros.
Sen. Bob Onder from Missouri and representative of St. Charles County has called the proposal a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and it would shift the legislature to the left.