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Kander approves four of five initiative petitions for November ballot

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Secretary of State Jason Kander certified four initiative petitions to become ballot issues voted on by the people of Missouri Nov. 8 on Tuesday.

Three of the ballot measures are constitutional amendments, and one is a statutory amendment.

The statutory amendment would increase tobacco and cigarette taxes to pay for transportation infrastructure improvements, and the summary statement says it is projected to raise roughly $100 million in revenue annually should it pass.

Ron Leone, the executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, said in a statement he expected to see the issue make the ballot.

“We’ve been confident from the beginning that our proposal would be on the ballot and allow voters to make our roads and bridges safer and better, without a gas tax increase or toll roads, which benefits all Missourians,” Leone said.

Another tobacco tax increase pushed by Raise Your Hands for Kids (RYH4K) that would enable Early Childhood Health and Education Trust Fund also made the cut. Leone has been a fierce opponent of the initiative petition, which has been questioned by some public education groups and stem cell researchers, and it had to endure a legal battle over the wording of the summary statement used when collecting signatures. Despite the hurdles, RYH4K made it to the ballot with 204,817 valid signatures from six congressional districts.

However, a coalition of health organizations; including the American Heart Association, American Lung Association of Missouri, Tobacco Free Missouri, and the American Cancer Society Cancer-Free Network; released a statement voicing their disapproval of both ballot measures. They believe neither will help people quit smoking and only serve to take advantage of those who do.

“Voters should be alarmed that those who profit from keeping smokers addicted have hijacked worthwhile causes by forcing Missourians to settle for a paltry increase in the tobacco tax that will not deter smoking,” the statement read. “Small and incremental increases to the tobacco tax will not keep kids from becoming addicted to cigarettes or help adults quit. Tobacco taxes work when the price increase is substantial enough to motivate current smokers to quit and prevent kids from starting. A dime here or there is not sufficient.”

Another constitutional amendment that would limit campaign contributions in the state made it onto the ballot with 212,000 valid signatures. The amendment, called the Missouri Campaign Contribution Reform Initiative, has been one of the quieter ones to make the ballot, funded by Fred Sauer of the Orion Investment Company in Clayton.

The ballot measure with the most valid signatures was a constitutional amendment that would ban any future tax on services not already taxed by the state. The Taxpayer Protection Amendment promoted by the Missourians for Fair Taxation and the Missouri Realtors Associations had 226,400 valid signatures.

“Amendment 4 will protect taxpayers by constitutionally stopping a new sales tax on services that Missouri families use every day,” said Scott Charton, a spokesman for Missourians for Fair Taxation, in a statement. “The threat of new taxes on services is real, and you don’t wait until your house is on fire to get a fire extinguisher.”

The only initiative petition circulated for signatures that did not make the ballot was one that would legalize medical marijuana in the state of Missouri, but the group behind the proposal is already seeking legal means to get on the ballot. They fell 2,200 valid signatures short in the 2nd Congressional District.

Each of the four certified ballot measures had the necessary number of signatures from each congressional district, and all of them got those signatures from the same six congressional districts: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th.