Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Reiboldt offers thoughts on Constutional Amendments 4 and 6

(From Rep. Bill Reidboldt, R-Seneca)

As the 2016 November General Election approaches, voters are preparing to decide on 5 constitutional amendments and 1 proposition. My focus this week will be on two of the proposed constitutional amendments, 4 and 6.

Constitutional Amendment 4:

Constitutional Amendment 4, known as the taxpayer protection amendment, would seek to prevent new state or local sales tax on the use of services. A service can be any transaction for which labor is compensated: haircuts, home and auto repairs, medical care, legal services or representation. The following is how the proposal will appear on the November ballot:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to prohibit a new state or local sales/use or other similar tax on any service of transaction that was not subject to a sales/use or similar tax as of January 1, 2015?

Potential costs to state and local governmental entities are unknown, but could be significant. The proposal’s passage would impact governmental entity’s ability to revise their tax structures. State and local governments expect no savings from this proposal.

It is important to note that a YES vote on amendment 4 means Missouri’s constitution will be changed to prevent any new service tax from being placed on our state’s citizens. A NO vote would leave everything as it is now.

Amendment 4 is backed by a state-wide coalition, “Missourians for Fair Taxation” (MFT), which was created and funded by the 20,000 member Missouri Association of Realtors. The primary opposition to Amendment 4 is the Missouri Municipal League, which seeks to leave the door open on this issue. Their claim is that it is a solution in search of a problem. Personally, I am inclined to agree with this; however, I am certainly not opposed to putting into our state constitution an amendment to block any taxes on services.

Part of the reason the Constitutional Amendment 4 petition initiative was placed on the ballot is because some states—North Carolina and Washington—have enacted taxes on services in order to avoid raising income or property taxes. Last year, Oklahoma’s governor tried to enact some service taxes but struck down by the state’s general assembly. State governments are feeling the pinch from federal mandates and federal cutbacks. Consequently, they are looking for ways to get more tax revenue from their state. 

Last session I carried HCR 58, legislation that was successful in stopping any tax increases on Missouri agricultural property. Today, the mood in Missouri’s General Assembly is not to place additional tax burdens on state’s citizens, though the Missouri Tax Commission is always looking for ways and reasons to increase taxes. My recommendation on Constitutional Amendment 4 is a YES vote.

Constitutional Amendment 6:

Constitutional Amendment 6 is the only measure placed on the ballot by Missouri’s General Assembly through the legislative referendum process. It will appear on the ballot as follows:

Shall the Constitution of Missouri be amended to state that voters may be required by law, which may be subject to exception, to verify one’s identity, citizenship, and residence by presenting identification that may include valid government-issued photo identification?

The proposed amendment will result in no costs or savings because any potential costs would be due to the enactment of a general law allowed by this proposal. If such a  general law in enacted, the potential costs to state and local governments is unknown, but could exceed $2.1 million annually.

A YES vote will allow the Missouri state government to require a voter photo ID be presented at the polls to prove both national and state citizenship. A NO vote will leave things as they are now.

This past session, the General Assembly passed HB 1631, legislation that is necessary to enact the voter photo ID law in Missouri. The legislation was then vetoed by Governor Nixon, but it was overridden at the September Veto Session. It only takes effect if Missouri voters approve the proposed Constitutional Amendment 6 on November 8.

Protecting the election process from potential fraud has always been a priority for our state’s lawmakers, and most believe that requiring a photo ID will help protect the integrity of the voting process. Proper identification is required for much of what we do in our daily lives and businesses. For example, proper photo ID is required in banking and financial institutions, in hospitals and with health care providers, renting a movie, boarding an airplane, or numerous other actions and transitions. It is absurd to think that the voting process is any less important than these things, and it only seems reasonable for voters to provide proper photo ID before casting their votes.

Those opposed to photo ID argue that the proposal is an attempt to disenfranchise voters who might have a difficult time securing the documents needed to obtain a photo ID. They claim those individuals who have a difficult time obtaining a proper photo ID are oftentimes the elderly, the disabled, and sometimes minority groups. Realizing the validity of these concerns, Missouri law provides opportunities for state residents to get a photo ID free of charge. Furthermore, voters without a photo ID have the ability to cast a provisional ballot, meaning the voter signs documents declaring their legitimacy to vote.

It is certainly the desire of all Missouri lawmakers to give our state citizens the opportunity to vote and to never disallow any group or individuals that right. Ultimately, the answer to this issue is in the hands of Missouri voters and will be decided next Tuesday.

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