Shades of Blue

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Big Six - Initiatives on the November Ballot

Stem cell protections: The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures - a group made up of universities, research institutions and patient groups - turned in 288,991 signatures for its proposed constitutional amendment to protect all forms of embryonic stem cell research allowed under federal law.The petition drive was conducted, in part, in response to the almost annual efforts in the state Legislature by social conservatives to ban certain types of stem cell research. The stem cell backers already have spent more than $4 million and are expected to raise and spend far more than the other ballot proposals. Opponents also have formed a campaign committee, Missourians Against Human Cloning.

Tobacco tax increase: The Committee for a Healthy Future, a group that includes hospitals, health care and patient groups, turned in 238,000 signatures for its proposed constitutional amendment to increase Missouri's tobacco tax by 80 cents a pack on cigarettes. The tax would be tripled on other tobacco products. The money would be used to raise money for anti-tobacco and health care programs.

Medicaid: A group based in central Missouri called Grass Roots Organizing collected just under 100,000 signatures for its proposed change in state law to restore Medicaid coverage to more than 90,000 Missourians removed from the rolls last year.

Eminent domain: A Kansas City-based group called Missourians in Charge submitted roughly 200,000 signatures for its proposed constitutional amendment to bar governments or public agencies from using eminent domain to take private property for private development, unless the property is condemned or earmarked for certain public uses.

State spending restriction: The same group submitted a similar number of signatures for its proposed constitutional amendment to limit state spending increases to hikes in population and inflation. Any larger increases would require the support of two-thirds of the Legislature and a statewide vote.

Minimum wage: A coalition of labor, religious and community-activist groups called Give Missourians a Raise submitted about 200,000 signatures for its proposed change in state law to increase the state minimum wage to $6.50 an hour, with future increases pegged to inflation.

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