November 2014 Ballot Issues

The League of Women Voters of Missouri
Statewide Ballot Issues – November 4, 2014

LWVMO – Recommends “Vote NO” on Amendment 3, 6 and 10

 

Amendment 2 Missouri Evidence in Sexual Crimes Against Minors
Ballot language: “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that it will be permissible to allow relevant evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim under eighteen years of age? If more resources are needed to defend increased prosecutions additional costs to governmental entities could be at least $1.4 million annually, otherwise the fiscal impact is expected to be limited.”


Fair ballot language:
A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to allow evidence of prior criminal acts, whether charged or uncharged, to be considered by courts in prosecutions of sexual crimes that involve a victim under 18 years of age. The amendment limits the use of such prior acts to support the victim’s testimony or show that the person charged is more likely to commit the crime. Further the judge may exclude such prior acts if the value of considering them is substantially outweighed by the possibility of unfair prejudice to the person charged with committing the crime.
A “no” vote will not amend the constitution regarding the use of evidence of prior criminal acts to prosecute sexual crimes. If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.

Proponents say:
This amendment would allow evidence which could determine whether someone is likely to be a repeat offender in sexual assaults or child molestation. People believe that offenders will reoffend (98% in 2008 poll). Evidence shows that the recidivism rate is 13% for incest, 24% for rapists.

Opponents say:
We already have precedent that allows admission of such evidence in particular circumstances, particularly in sentencing hearings. The actual recidivism rate is much lower than the public believes, 13% for incest and 24% for rape.

LWVMO has no recommendation on Amendment 2.

 

Amendment 3 Missouri Teacher Performance Evaluation
Ballot language: ““Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to
• Require teachers to be evaluated by a standards based performance evaluation system for which each local school district must receive state approval to continue receiving state and local funding;
• Require teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system;
• Require teachers to enter into contracts of three years or fewer with public school districts; and prohibit teachers from organizing or collectively bargaining regarding the design and implementation of the teacher evaluation system?”

Fiscal impact:
Decisions by school districts regarding provisions allowed or required by this proposal and their implementation will influence the potential costs or savings impacting each district. Significant potential costs may be incurred by the state and/or the districts of new/additional evaluation instruments must be developed to satisfy the proposal’s performance evaluation requirements.

Explanation:
This constitutional amendment would mandate rules to be applied statewide concerning how teachers are evaluated, hired, paid, retained, promoted and dismissed.
• Local districts would have to use state-approved standards-based evaluation systems.
• Hiring, pay and retention would be based on student performance (standardized test scores).
• Teacher contracts would be limited to 3 years.
• No collective bargaining regarding teacher evaluations.

Proponents say:
It will enable districts to evaluate teachers every 3 years. Poorly performing teachers can be removed; good ones kept.
It protects collective bargaining for salary, benefits, and working conditions. It will improve quality of education.

Opponents say:
It takes away local control. It mandates a one size fits all approach instead of treating students as individuals.
It requires more standardized testing, leading to more “teaching to the test.” It is more costly due to more tests.
Current system allows for removal of poor teachers through regular monitoring and evaluation system.

LWVMO – Recommends “Vote NO” on Amendment 3

 

Amendment 6 Early Voting
Ballot language: “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to permit voting in person or by mail for a period of six business days prior to and including the Wednesday before the Election Day in general elections, but only if the legislature and the governor appropriate and disburse funds to pay for the increased costs of such voting?”
Fair ballot language:
A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to permit voters, in years when the legislature provides funding, an early voting period of six business days prior to and including the Wednesday before Election Day to cast a ballot in all general elections. This amendment does not allow early voting on Saturday or Sunday.
A “no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution to provide all voters with a six-business day early voting period.
If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes

Fiscal impact:
State governmental entities estimated startup costs of about $2 million and costs to reimburse local election authorities of at least $100,000 per election. Local election authorities estimated higher reimbursable costs per election. Those costs will depend on the compensation, staffing, and, planning decisions of election authorities with the total costs being unknown.

Explanation:
This constitutional amendment would set up rules for early voting in Missouri.
• Early voting may take place for six business days prior to the election (at boards of election offices during normal business hours only). No other locations may be used.
• Early voting is prohibited on weekends.
• Early voting may only take place if the legislature chooses to provide funds to pay for it.
• Absentee voting system will remain as is.

Proponents say:
Missouri is one of only 7 states in the nation that currently does not allow early voting in some form (we do allow absentee voting.)This would put in place a reasonable early voting system. The rules for voting are uniform throughout the state. Funding remains under legislative control.

Opponents say:
This is not a real early voting system. There is no requirement to offer early voting the week before the election except for on Wednesday. It is for 6 days only. The proposed system is more restrictive than 29 other states, including Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, and Arkansas. The legislature can eliminate early voting by refusing to fund it. Because this is a constitutional amendment, it will be very difficult to put a real early voting system in Missouri in the future.

LWVMO – Recommends “Vote NO” on Amendment 6

 

Amendment 10 Missouri Gubernatorial Budgetary Recommendations
Ballot language: “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to require the governor to pay the public debt, to prohibit the governor from relying on revenue from legislation not yet passed when proposing a budget, and to provide a legislative check on the governor’s decisions to restrict funding for education and other state services? State governmental entities expect no direct costs or savings. Local governmental entities expect an unknown fiscal impact.”

Fair ballot language:
A “yes” vote will amend the Mo. Constitution regarding the requirements placed on the governor for proposing a state budget and for withholding money appropriated in the budget passed by the legislature. This amendment prohibits the governor from reducing funding passed by the general assembling without receiving legislative consent, and provides certain other restrictions on the governor’s ability to increase or decrease line items in the budget. This amendment further prohibits the governor from proposing a budget that relies on revenue from legislation that has not yet passed in the general assembly.

Explanation:
This amendment places a number of limitations on the Governor’s powers to propose a state budget and to allocate state funds without legislative consent.
• Governor cannot reduce or withhold funding passed by the legislature without legislative consent.
• Governor cannot change line items in the budget without legislative approval.
• Governor cannot use revenue in a budget proposal if the legislation to provide the revnue has not yet been passed by the legislature.

Proponents say:
The governor should not have “unchecked power” to decide how money gets spent. Governor Nixon has withheld funding authorized by the legislature in the past. The legislature should control the budget.

Opponents say:
The governor is responsible for a balanced budget. The current system works well. Governors in all states except Maryland have this power because it is necessary. Governor Nixon reduced line items when revenues were down and expenditures needed to be cut.

LWVMO – Recommends “Vote NO” on Amendment 10

 

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