The statewide ballot questions before Missouri voters next month are a diverse lot: one that has our strong endorsement and a mix of other issues for which we can muster little enthusiasm.
We already have urged a “yes” vote on Proposition B, the reasonable plan to boost the cigarette tax, tamp down smoking-related illnesses and invest millions in education.
As for the other questions, we share these thoughts:
- Amendment 3 — Give the governor increased authority to appoint a majority of the commission that nominates finalists for openings on the state Supreme Court and state Court of Appeals.
We recommend a “no” vote. Supporters of this amendment already have thrown in the towel, believing defeat at the polls is inevitable.
Still, we disagree with those who think our version of the Missouri Plan — the current method for selecting judges — cannot be improved upon. We are sensitive to concerns trial attorneys wield out-of-proportion influence over the judicial selection process. We think voters should keep an open mind on future proposals for improvements.
- Proposition A — Allow the City of St. Louis to transfer control of the city’s police force from a board currently appointed by the governor to the city.
We recommend a “yes” vote. Only two cities in the nation, St. Louis and Kansas City, tolerate state control of their local police forces. In St. Louis’ case, the arrangement dates to the Civil War.
In a 2010 referendum, 70 percent of St. Louis voters said they wanted local control of their police department and local accountability for the $144 million in tax dollars spent on police. The proposal even is endorsed by the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association.
- Proposition E — Prohibit the governor or any state agency from establishing state-based health insurance exchanges unless authorized by a vote of the people or by the legislature.
We recommend a “no” vote. Angst about the federal health care law does not justify a proposal that could make matters worse.
The Republican-controlled legislature seeks to bar the governor or any state agency from proceeding with implementation of an online marketplace for individuals to compare and purchase insurance plans. The marketplace is a key provision under the part of the new law that requires most people to have health insurance.
The Supreme Court’s decision in June makes it nearly certain health exchanges eventually will be implemented. If the state fails to set up an exchange in a timely manner, the federal government will do it — and likely without our input.