Much to vote on and much at stake

thThere is much for Missouri voters to decide Tuesday, ranging from the future of streetcars in the city to a state sales tax for highway repairs and transportation.

Voters in Midtown and a large section of Kansas City south of the river will decide whether to create a transportation district to expand the streetcar system.

If it passes, they will vote again in November on whether to approve a sales tax and special property tax assessment for the eight-mile expansion.

In a separate issue, a state three-quarter cent sales tax for transportation is among several constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Supporters say it would create jobs and get needed work accomplished. Opponents say sales taxes are regressive and take a higher percentage of money from the poor and middle class.

Many opponents favor a higher gasoline tax instead. They say a sales tax is unfair because the trucking industry causes much of the damage to roads and pays little for it.

Supporters note that no Missouri resident would pay the higher sales tax on food, prescription drugs, rent or utilities.

Another amendment questions whether to “ensure that the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed.”

Even farmers are divided on that. Supporters say farmers are under attack by anti-agriculture organizations. Opponents say the measure would hurt family farmers and is meant to protect large corporate agriculture from pollution regulations.

Another amendment would amend the constitution to make keeping and bearing arms an unalienable right the state is obligated to uphold.

Supporters say the current gun rights aren’t strong enough. Opponents say Missouri already has among the strongest pro-gun laws in the nation and the change could make it easier for criminals to possess guns.

Another amendment would change the requirement that all lottery funds be spent on education.

It would allow funds to be spent on programs for veterans by requiring the money to be placed in a fund, which critics say lawmakers could later change to spend money on anything they wanted.

Yet another amendment seeks to change the constitution so “people will be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects.”

Supporters say this needs to be done to add cellphones, laptops and tablets to things protected from unreasonable search and seizure.

Opponents say the vaguely worded measure has good intentions but could have unintended consequences and is not needed, given a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on cellphone searches.

In Jackson County, voters will consider county legislative races, including the one with Frank White of baseball fame against firefighter Sherwood Smith.

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