Missouri voters could once again vote on whether to raise tobacco taxes.
Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s office announced Monday that a ballot item had been approved for circulation to raise the state’s tobacco tax by $1 a pack. If proponents get enough signatures, the measure will go before voters in 2012.
Here’s the summary from Carnahan’s office:
Shall Missouri law be amended to require an additional tax of $1.00 on each package of twenty cigarettes produced by certain tobacco product manufacturers, which tax shall be paid by wholesalers and used solely for tobacco education and cessation programs and for enforcement and administration of the Master Settlement Agreement by the Missouri Attorney General?
Estimated additional revenue to state government from this proposal is $20 million to $100 million annually with limited estimated implementation costs. The revenue will fund only programs and actions allowed by the proposal. No costs or savings are expected for local governments. Any possible change in revenue for local governments is unknown.
The proposal was submitted by Marc Ellinger, an attorney who is also Cole County’s presiding commissioner.
In 2002 and 2006, Missouri voters rejected ballot items that would raise tobacco taxes. Both ballot items failed by small margins, in part because the “pro” side was usually well-funded and well-organized. Hence, it’s not that far of stretch to expect that there will be enough resources for proponents to gather the necessary signatures.
The question is whether Missouri voters will change their minds, especially since the state has been dealing with major budgetary shortfalls the last few years.
Got word last week that the Missouri State Society will be holding a benefit for Joplin tomorrow in Washington, D.C.
The event will benefit a few charities from the area, including the Greater Ozarks Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Heart of Missouri United Way, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the Joplin Business Recovery Fund.
All 11 members of the Missouri congressional delegations are expected to attend the event, as well as community leaders from Joplin. And Bret Funk - a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield, who serves as Congressional Relations Chair for the society - said in an e-mail that the freshman lawmaker will personally auctioneer off items to support the charities.
Long, of course, was a successful auctioneer in southwest Missouri before becoming a congressman. He gained a bit of press when he demonstrated his skills on the House floor.
Gov. Jay Nixon appointed Dent County Prosecutor Brandi L. Baird as that county’s Associate Judge. That position became vacant after Sanborn N. Ball as a Circuit Judge for the 42nd District.
“The citizens of Dent County showed their confidence in Judge Baird by electing her as prosecuting attorney,” Nixon said in a statement. “I am certain she will continue to uphold that confidence in her service on the bench.”
The appointment is noteworthy because it marks the second time in recent memory Dent County’s prosecuting attorney office became vacant. Nixon had to appoint Baird to the position after then-Prosecuting Attorney Jessica Sparks resigned.
Attorney General Chris Koster attempted to remove Sparks from office for “being derelict in filing roughly 250 felony cases pending in the south central Missouri county.” Sparks resigned before the Democratic attorney general could oust her from office.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan wrote an article on Monday about the divide between rural and urban Missourians on a ballot item to regulate dog breeding facilities.
But while that aforementioned issue is plenty controversial in the Show Me State, the boisterous Donnybrook panelist came up with a unique solution to the urban-rural split:
Much of that friction centered on Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act. It narrowly passed in November. It had great support in St. Louis and Kansas City. Rural Missouri opposed it.
It is important to note that this was not a partisan vote. It had more to do with pronunciation. People in Missouruh opposed it. People in Missouree supported it.
Hasn’t this gone on long enough?
We’re like a married couple who can’t even agree on how to pronounce our name. All we ever do is fight. This marriage is not worth saving. Let’s split and get on with our lives.
Several years ago, I proposed that St. Louis secede from Missouruh. I suggested we become part of Illinois and change our name to West East St. Louis.
Of course, given the state of Illinois’ budget, it is far more likely St. Louis could snag the Land of Lincoln for less than what was paid for Harmonix Music Systems.
I’m just sayin’.
The Missouri House passed legislation that would remove a mechanism raising the state’s minimum wage based off inflation. But even if it passed the Senate, would Gov. Jay Nixon sign such a change into law?
I asked Nixon that question at a press conference in St. Louis City. The video of his response is above.
University of Missouri-St. Louis professor Terry Jones wrote an op-ed in the St. Louis Beacon yesterday about redistricting’s effect on the St. Louis region:
The present partisan division is six Republicans and three Democrats. With the GOP having a veto proof majority in the state Senate and being just three votes short of two-thirds control in the state House of Representatives, partisanship would argue for a plan that retains six Republican districts and reduces the Democrats from three to two. But such an approach could have significant geographic consequences.
The prevailing strategy to accomplish that partisan objective is placing two sitting Democrats in a single district. After Republican Vicky Hartzler’s 2010 win over Democrat incumbent Ike Skelton in the Fourth Congressional District, Emmanuel Cleaver from the Fifth Congressional District (Kansas City and its environs) is the sole Democrat outside the St. Louis region. There’s no Democratic seat nearby. So if the partisan two-into-one playbook is to prevail, that means targeting the two adjacent Democratic districts in the St. Louis region: the First (William Lacy Clay Jr.) and the Third (Russ Carnahan).
A woman on stilts entertains the masses at the Missouri State Fair. Pettis County - the home of the fair - grew by 4 percent last decade.
I just got a spreadsheet of the state’s population by county. You can view the spreadsheet here, but here are some highlights:
- St. Louis County remains Missouri’s most populous county with 998,954 people. But that number is down 1.71 percent. Jackson County came in second place with 674,158, a 2.94 percent increase.
- St. Charles County experienced downright explosive growth, moving ahead of St. Louis City as the third most populous county in the state. The county grew by 26.98 percent.
- As mentioned in the previous post, St. Louis City’s population decline by 8.3 percent. The population of my hometown is 319,294.
- Kansas City suburban areas such as Clay County, Cass County and Platte County grew by at least 20 percent. Jefferson County grew by 10.42 percent.
- My old stomping ground of Boone County grew 20.07 percent. Cole County grew by 6.43 percent.
- Southwest Missouri experienced a population boom of sorts. The fastest growing county in the state was Christian County, which ballooned by 42.62 percent. Greene County grew by 14.47 percent, Jasper County’s population went up by 12.15 percent and Taney County grew by 30.15 percent.
- The population of Atchison County - home of U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio - declined 11.59 percent, the most out of any Missouri county. Worth County - with 2,171 residents - remains Missouri’s least populous county.
By the way, state Rep. John Diehl’s office released the total population by congressional districts. Diehl, R-Town and Country, is the chair of the House committee on redistricting:
District 1 - 587,069
District 2 - 706,622
District 3 - 625,251
District 4 - 679,375
District 5 - 633,887
District 6 - 693,974
District 7 - 721,754
District 8 - 656,894
District 9 - 684,101
Diehl’s office says that congressional districts will now have 748,615 people.
[Full disclosure: Max is a fraternity brother and I respect him, even though he is a Yankees fan.]