Recent Missouri editorials


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Washington Missourian, June 5

Disappointed in Nixon's position on transportation tax:

It was disappointing to hear from Gov. Jay Nixon that he will not support the proposed three-quarter-cent sales tax for transportation. In his statement opposing the tax, he did not offer an alternative to raising revenue for badly needed transportation needs in Missouri.

There is no question that the governor's decision on the transportation issue was influenced by the General Assembly's actions on cutting taxes in the recently ended session. The Legislature approved placing the three-quarter-cent sales tax on the ballot to permit voters to make a decision on needed revenue for the Missouri Department of Revenue (MoDOT). The governor placed the sales tax issue on the August ballot. That surprised many people, some of whom believe the governor did that because he was against it and believes it more readily will be defeated in August than if voted on in November. The decision to vote on the sales tax in August was made in the last week of May.

The governor offered no alternative as how to generate more revenue for transportation. In his statement the governor said "any proposal to change how we fund transportation must be considered in the context of the overall tax policy of our state and funding for other priorities like education." The governor said the Legislature has "misguided policies" on taxes and the Republican-controlled General Assembly has favored the more affluent taxpayers and businesses and has "shifted the tax burden away from the wealthy and onto working Missourians, while undermining support for education and other vital public services that create opportunity for Missouri families."

Politics is playing heavily in the relationship of the governor and the General Assembly. Gov. Nixon is a rather moderate Democrat while the legislative branch is ruled by Republicans. The two have gotten along fairly well — as well as could be expected — but the tone by both has changed in the last couple of months. The word exchanges have become more pointedly bitter.

Franklin County's highway and bridge needs, like other counties, are pressing. We have a major roadway, Highway 47, that is inadequate due to traffic volumes. Other state roads and bridges in the county are substandard. Widening of Highway 47 is a priority if the three-quarter-cent is approved by voters. Without that added revenue, improving Highway 47 is a distant, distant dream.

The governor recognizes the need for transportation improvements. He should have offered an alternative revenue-raising proposal when he turned his back on the sales tax. That would have demonstrated transportation leadership. His opposition hasn't killed the sales tax proposal. Voters will have the final say. As we said, we are disappointed in the governor's position on this issue.


Jefferson City News Tribune, June 8

Right to Farm amendment lacks substance:

After thousands of years of working the land and tending the livestock, do we really need a constitutional right to farm?

Proponents, including majority Republicans in the Legislature, believe so. They are encouraging voters in the Aug. 5 primary to elevate farming to a constitutional right in Missouri.

We're not anthropologists, but we're pretty sure people have been farming — harvesting fruit, growing vegetables and raising livestock — for a long time.

What has changed, according to proponents' literature, is farming has become "vulnerable to attacks from well-funded, outside groups that push information on the public to pass burdensome and expensive regulations."

If you see the ghost of Proposition B in those words, your eyesight is excellent. Proposition B, our readers will recall, is the animal welfare law approved by voters in 2010 but then changed dramatically by lawmakers.

Opponents of the amendment contend supporters' protective zeal has morphed into paranoia.

Although proponents' literature doesn't specify, the August amendment is a virtual "No Trespassing" sign aimed at pesky groups concerned with animal welfare, genetically modified food, use of antibiotics in livestock, etc.

Whether you support or oppose these groups is not at issue here. Free speech, including theirs, is enshrined the U.S. Constitution.

Opponents also consider the ballot language vague. It reads: "Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure that the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed?"

The undefined "production" and "practices" are an invitation to sue, which essentially will move the debate from the legislative arena, where it belongs, to the judiciary.

Cynical observers also view the Right to Farm amendment as a political maneuver designed to attract more die-hard conservatives to the ballot box.

Lending credibility to that speculation is Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's decision to place the issue before voters in August, rather than November. The earlier date not only abbreviates a campaign, it avoids the general election, when turnout traditionally is higher.

"Many a true word hath been spoken in jest," William Shakespeare wrote in his tragedy, "King Lear."

Many true words also have been spoken by cynics.


The Kansas City Star, June 5

Koster wrong about Missouri executions:

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster wants the state to get more fully involved in the execution business by setting up a pharmaceutical lab to manufacture its own death drugs.

As ideas go, this one is better than Koster's suggestion a year ago that the state should consider killing people with a gas chamber. But not by a lot.

In both cases, the Democratic attorney general was responding to the logistical and legal problems the state has encountered ever since major pharmaceutical manufacturers, some of them based in Europe, have begun refusing on moral grounds to supply the drugs used in lethal injections.

The dry pipelines have forced Missouri and other states to turn to compounding pharmacies, which prefer to do this unsavory business in anonymity.

Koster is framing his idea as a way to eliminate the secrecy and lack of transparency that are adding new elements of controversy to executions and also providing new grounds for inmates' appeals. The attorney general also suggests a state-run lab would be more cost-effective by removing "market-driven participants" from the process.

But that's just putting a shiny spin on the repugnant suggestion that the state get into the business of mixing up chemicals to kill people.

Clearly, executions are problematic for Missouri. If Koster wants to end the secrecy and save the state money, he should campaign for the more cost-effective and moral approach of punishing the worst offenders with life in prison without parole.


The Joplin Globe, June 4

Land trust shows the way:

Quiet as an owl on the hunt, the Ozark Regional Land Trust goes about its work. There's little fanfare and few headlines, but don't let the group's low profile fool you.

What began as a kitchen-table venture with $1,000 in Carthage 30 years ago has grown into a can-do conservation organization that has protected more than 25,000 acres of Ozark and prairie habitat, some of it historic, some of it home to endangered species, all of it worth preserving for future generations.

The trust has helped preserve remnant prairie near Mount Vernon, old-growth Ozark forest, riparian corridors, urban greenspace, farmland and, most recently, part of a Civil War battlefield near Carthage.

If you've hiked on the trails near the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center, you can thank the land trust. It stepped in to protect land between the Redings Mill bridge and the nature center, allowing trails to be built.

Its work ranges from the 3,267-acre Alford Forest along Bryant Creek in Ozark County to a three-acre preserve in Sarcoxie with a cave and a spring that are home to the Ozark cavefish and the Arkansas darter.

Thousands more acres are protected via conservation easements that allow landowners to keep title to the land but protect it from future development.

However, you don't have to be landowner to support the Ozark Regional Land Trust.

Nearly 1,000 people are members, joining for as little as $35, supporting the group with donations that allow it to work with landowners as well as manage trust-owned properties.

This is conservation at the local level, and we congratulate the Ozark Regional Land Trust for the good work it has done for 30 years and the work it will continue doing.

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