Missouri Labor endorses Amendment 1, minimum wage increase, gas tax and zoo measure

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There are a number of propositions to consider on the Missouri ballot Nov. 6.

Three statewide measures and a proposed Zoo tax in St. Louis County have earned the endorsement of Missouri AFL-CIO and the St. Louis Labor Council.

Several local measures have also been endorsed and are listed with the Missouri COPE endorsements.

AMENDMENT 1 – CLEAN MISSOURI

Amendment 1 – CLEAN Missouri – is a bipartisan measure that would overhaul the state’s ethics and state legislative redistricting laws. It has been endorsed by the St. Louis Labor Council, the Missouri AFL-CIO, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis American, Columbia Daily Tribune, Jefferson County Leader, Joplin Globe, Kansas City Star and Washington Missourian

If approved, Amendment 1 would:

  • Lower campaign contribution limits.
  • Eliminate most lobbyist gifts.
  • Require state government to be more transparent by following the Sunshine Law.
  • Stop the revolving door of legislators becoming lobbyists. Legislators would have to wait two years after leaving office before becoming lobbyists.
  • Require fair legislative maps to eliminate the process of gerrymandering.

Backers of Clean Missouri believe that the amendment will make lawmakers more responsive to people instead of special interest groups or lobbyists.

“This is a huge step toward making sure the people we elect in Jeff City really report back to us, the voters,” said St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones. “Because we matter.”

Former Sen. Jim Lembke, a Lemay Republican who lost his re-election bid after his Democratic opponent highlighted who he took lobbyist gifts, acknowledged that lobbyist gifts had an impact on how he acted as a legislator.

“I thought that I could take the gifts from lobbyists and it wouldn’t affect me,” Lembke said. “But you know, when I really think back on it and look at it, I think that it did afford certain groups and certain lobbyists access to me that other people did not have.”

With regard to redistricting, Rep. Peter Merideth, a St. Louis Democrat said, “I don’t think this is a partisan thing. I think the fact is it’s not a fair process. And a lot of times, politicians have more interest in preserving their districts being drawn exactly the way it is drawn in their own personal interest. So that often means that both sides are doing things to benefit themselves.”

For more information on Amendment 1, visit cleanmissouri.org.

PROP B – MINIMUM WAGE

Proposition B would gradually increase the standard state minimum wage from its current level of $7.85 an hour to $12 an hour over several years.

The measure was placed on the statewide ballot through an initiative petition organized and funded largely by a coalition of Labor and workers’ rights organizations working through a campaign committee called Raise Up Missouri.

Another group called Missouri Businesses for a Fair Minimum Wage has endorsed Proposition B and touts the support of nearly 500 small business owners in the state.

Under Proposition B, the minimum wage would be set at $8.60 an hour as of Jan. 1, 2019. It would then increase by 85 cents each year over the next four years. The minimum wage would rise to $9.45 an hour in 2020, $10.30 an hour in 2021 and $11.15 an hour in 2022 and top out at $12 an hour on Jan. 1, 2023.

Once the phase-in is complete, Missouri’s minimum wage would have increased a total of $4.15 an hour, a nearly 53 percent boost from its current level.

If the federal minimum wage is raised to a level higher than what Proposition B calls for, then Missouri employers would be obligated to pay the higher federal wage.

State agencies and local governments – counties, municipalities, school districts and other political subdivisions of the state – would be exempt from paying the wage increases mandated by Proposition B for private sector businesses.

Government employers would still be required to pay the existing state minimum wage of $7.85 an hour, which would remain subject to annual increases or decreases based on changes in the Consumer Price Index, as specified in current law.

PROP D – GAS TAX

Proposition D would increase the state fuel tax to pay for road and bridge maintenance, provide funding to the state Highway Patrol and create a special tax break for Olympic athletes. The three seemingly unrelated issues came together with the Missouri Legislature’s passage of House Bill 1460.

The proposition seeks to increase the state fuel tax by 10 cents per gallon, create an Emergency State Freight Bottleneck Fund and create the Olympic Dream Freedom Act to exempt Missouri athletes from paying state taxes on income resulting from Olympic competition.

Missouri’s fuel tax was last increased in 1996 and currently stands at 17 cents a gallon. Proposition D would increase the tax in four annual increments of 2.5 cents each starting in 2019 and concluding in 2022, when the tax would top out at 27 cents a gallon.

The measure has bipartisan support and is backed by Labor, management and businesses who recognize repairing and updating the state’s transportation infrastructure as a job creator and economic development engine.

Once fully implemented the additional tax is expected to generate $288 million in new revenue. Most of that money will be used to replace existing funding the Missouri Highway Patrol currently receives and redirect those funds to the Missouri Department of Transportation for road and bridge projects. An additional $123 million a year will go to cities and counties for local road and bridge projects.

“Prop D is the first step in getting things done in Missouri,” said Brandon Flinn, business manager for the Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council. “It will improve safety and provide a steady source of funding.”

Union laborers take great pride in the work they do on the roads in the state of Missouri, Flinn said, but so many have fallen into disrepair due to lack of funding, bridges a falling down and roads are crumbling.

“The message is simple,” Flinn said. “Vote Yes on Prop D.”

For more information on Prop D, visit SaferMO.com.

PROP Z – ZOO

Proposition Z would establish a one-eighth of one percent sales tax in St. Louis County to support the St. Louis Zoo. The tax would add only one cent to an $8 purchase but is projected to raise more than $20 million a year for the zoo.

If St. Louis County voters approve the tax, they would have free admission to an animal conservation area the zoo plans to build at the former Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 complex in north St. Louis County. Admission to the current zoo in Forest Park is free under state law.

Jeffrey Bonner, president and chief executive officer of the Saint Louis Zoo, said the new campus will host a Conservation & Animal Science Center dedicated to sustaining endangered and threatened species, as well as a public component such as “a safari experience” to “connect people with nature and animals.”

The zoo currently supports about 2,000 jobs and helps to generate over $215 million annually in economic impact for the local economy. Bonner estimated the new campus would create about 100 full-time jobs and 200 seasonal jobs.

The measure earned the endorsement of the St. Louis Labor Council and St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council after zoo officials committed to using union labor and employment.

For more information on Prop Z, visit YesOnPropZ on Facebook.

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