I have never been very active in politics. During the 2016 presidential election, I was a very uninformed college freshman who went to the polls only knowing who the presidential candidates were. I knew nothing of the issues I voted, who state and local candidates were, or anything else that mattered when voting.
Since then, I have become a little more informed about politics and what it means to be a “republican” or “democrat”. I have my own opinions (rather than just mirroring my parents and other people from my home town) on things like gun control, the environment, immigration, and other political issues that are rocking our nation.
However, coming into the November 6th election, I have found myself once again ignorant to the political issues that will be on the ballot. I honestly didn’t even know if I would be voting on the Senate, House of Representatives, neither, or both until I asked a friend group. I remember my self-embarrassment of not knowing the issues on the last ballot I voted on, and I hate that I softened my own voice by not knowing what I was doing. I vow to be a more knowledgeable and informed citizen every time I vote, from here on out.
That being said, it is very difficult to figure out what is actually going on political-wise without coming across biased websites that slander candidates and give opinions on how you should vote. With this in mind, I began my research on what is going to be on the November 2018 ballot in the state of Missouri, and have compiled nothing but the facts.
Amendment 1- Supported by Clean Missouri
Voting “yes” on this amendment will change the procedure and standards for redistricting, or redrawing district boundaries. It would give the ability to redraw lines to a state demographer (chosen from a panel selected by the state auditor, among others), who would submit the maps to the state Senate and House. 70% would then have to approve the redistricting lines for them to be approved.
The amendment would also reduce the campaign contribution limit (from individuals and entities) for candidates running for state senator ($2.500 per election) or state representative ($2,000 per election). It would create a $5 limit on gifts that state legislatures and their employees can accept from lobbyists or lobbyists’ clients. It prohibits state legislators and their employees from becoming paid lobbyists themselves until two years after their last legislative session.
It also requires all legislative records and proceedings to be subject to the state open meetings and records law.
Amendment 2- Supported by New Approach Missouri
Voting “yes” would amend the Missouri Constitution to allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes. The amendment would create licensing fees, and impose a 4% tax on the retail sale of marijuana (which would be used by the Missouri Veterans Commission and Department of Health and Senior Services). This would allow the home-growing of marijuana for medical purposes. Recreational use of marijuana (possession, sale, and cultivation) would still be illegal.
Amendment 3- Supported by Brad Bradshaw
Voting “yes” on this amendment would legalize medical marijuana and would impose a 15% tax on the retail sale, which would fund a research institute. It would make Brad Bradshaw of Springfield the research chairperson and give him the ability to select members of the board that will govern the research institute. This institute would issue regulations and licensing procedures for medical marijuana and facilities, including licensing fees. Recreational use of marijuana (possession, sale, and cultivation) would still be illegal.
Voting “yes” would remove language limiting bingo game advertising from the Missouri Constitution, of which was previously ruled unconstitutional. It would also allow a member of a licensed organization, who is conducting bingo games, to participate in the management of bingo games after six months of being a member (rather than current 2-year requirement).
Voting “yes” would raise Missouri minimum wage by $0.85 every year until 2023, when it would reach $12.00 an hour (versus the current $7.85 an hour). This increase does not apply to government employees, and would increase the penalty of businesses that do not pay minimum wage.
Proposition C- Supported by Missourians for Patient Care
Voting “yes” would amend Missouri statutes, allowing marijuana to be used for medical purposes. It would create licensing procedures and regulations for medical marijuana and facilities, as well as licensing fees. It would impose a 2% tax (lower than amendment 2 and 3), which would be used for veterans’ services, drug treatment, early childhood education, and public safety in cities with medical marijuana facilities. Local community support would be required for facilities to be approved. Recreational use of marijuana (possession, sale, and cultivation) would still be illegal.
Voting “yes” would change Missouri statutes to fund the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s enforcement and administration of motor vehicle laws and traffic regulations. It would increase the state tax on motor fuel (including gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, and blended fuel). Currently, the tax is at $0.17 per gallon. This would raise the tax $0.025 per year until it reached $0.27 per gallon on July 1, 2022.
It would raise the tax from $0.17 per gallon to $0.27 per gallon for alternative fuels used for motor vehicles beginning 2026.
It would also create the “Emergency State Freight Bottleneck Fund”, which would use money from the state’s general fund to pay for road improvements, as long as they meet a set of conditions (including reducing serious crashes, reducing traffic delay with road work during peak traffic hours, receiving 35% funds elsewhere, etc.)
Additionally, voting “yes” would exempt prize money won from the Olympics, Special Olympics, and Paralympics from state taxes.
Medical Marijuana is on our ballot- 3 times!
I, like all of you, wondered what would happen if all three amendments/statutes were to be approved. There is currently a law in place stating that if two or more “conflicting” amendments are passed, only the one with the most votes will be passed. Amendments have authority over state statues, so if all three are approved, either amendment 2 or amendment 3 will be the one to become a Missouri amendment (whichever has the most votes).
The Senate Race
Missourians will be voting for one of the Senate seats, and the race is between incumbent Claire McCaskill and Attorney General Josh Hawley. This is a very important election for the Senate because Republicans currently hold 51 seats in the Senate and Democrats hold 47; with the number of seats being voted on, the Senate could completely flip to blue or grow stronger in red. Missouri especially is one of the determining states, and is even being called a “battleground state”. Your voice matters.
If you’re choosing to ignore political commercials and YouTube ads and want find out what each candidate is really about, I did the research for you (because trust me, finding their stances on the issues without bias is hard), and here’s what you need to know:
Claire has been a Missouri Senator since 2007 and is this election’s democratic candidate, but states that she is moderate. Because she has been in the Senate for 11 years, it is a little bit easier to track where she votes on certain issues. Sorting through all the biased information, this is what I’ve dug up about her stances on some hot-topic issues:
- She believes that all women should have the right to healthcare and that it is their choice to have an abortion or not.
- She believes the government should not have a say on who can get married, regardless of gender (voted for the legalization of same-sex marriage).
- She voted for the DREAM Act in 2010 (which would give undocumented immigrants who entered the US at children an easier pathway to citizenship). She also supports a bill that will stop families from being separated at the border.
- She supports affordable healthcare for all people, including those with “pre-existing conditions”.
- She supports stricter gun control laws, though she has stated that she does support the 2nd amendment.
- She supports legal immigration and also supports strengthening border security. She has stated that “our immigration system is badly broken” and supports acts to fix that.
- She supports the #metoo movement, and wants to combat sexual violence and support and empower survivors.
- She believes in fighting against the opioid (prescription drugs) crisis and has been urging the state to pass legislation to continue to combat the issue. She has also expressed commitment to working with President Trump in regards to opioids abuse.
Josh is currently the Attorney General of Missouri, and the republican candidate for the Senate. Finding his stances on issues was harder, and I had to dig much deeper.
- He supports the new abortion regulations and believes they protect women (pro-life).
- He supports stricter gun control laws (stronger background checks, ban bump stocks).
- He supports affordable healthcare for all people, including those with “pre-existing conditions”; opposes Obamacare.
- He supports strong border control and building a physical wall between the US and Mexico. He also believes “low-skill immigrants” are taking American jobs and thinks there should be a “skills-based immigration system” to protect Americans and create jobs.
- He believes there should be legislation in place to keep families from being separated at the border.
- He believes in fighting against opioid manufacturers to take a stand against opioid abuse.
- His website states that he has “cracked down on human trafficking in Missouri”.
- He does not support federal regulations of greenhouse gas emissions.
The state of Missouri has 8 seats in the US House of Representatives, 6 of which are currently Republican. Each district will be voting.
State representatives differ all across the state of Missouri, so research on that will have to be done by you. However, I found this helpful website that at least tells you who is running per district., which is a start.
And here is a handy-dandy map, brought to you by Wikipedia, that shows which counties belong in which districts:
Politics are tricky and trying to read up on them is like walking into a war with both sides slamming the other. Don’t be scared, though, and remember that your vote matters. Your voice matters. It takes just a few minutes to read up on the issues, and being informed is the first step of making your voice heard. Presidential elections are important, but state and local elections might be even more important and have just as much- if not more- impact on your day-to-day life.
Make your voice heard.
Remember, you don’t have to vote with the party “you’ve always identified with”- vote for the candidate or the amendment you believe is best for you, your state, and your country.
Your vote matters. Be at the polls on November 6.