A roundup of Nov. 2 ballot issues

Missouri Amendment 1

This amendment would change the Missouri Constitution to require counties to elect their county assessors if their population is between 600,001 and 699,999. Assessors put a value on properties in the county to determine how much each owner should pay in property taxes.

The amendment does not apply to Boone County, whose assessor, Tom Schauwecker, is already elected. Of Missouri's 114 counties, only Jackson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties appoint their assessors.

Proponents say electing assessors would make them more accountable to make fairer assessments.

Critics say making the assessor an elected position instead of an appointed one would turn assessments into political issues, with assessors perhaps hesitating to give low assessments for fear of losing elections.

Missouri Amendment 2

This amendment would exempt former prisoners of war who live in the state from paying property taxes on the property where they live. According to the official ballot language, the number of former prisoners is unknown but expected to be small.

Supporters of the measure say the number of prisoners is small and the state should give them the tax exemption in recognition of their service. They say the measure should pass now because many former prisoners served in wars several decades ago and are aging.

Opponents say the tax break could duplicate an existing credit that reimburses individual citizens for up to $1,100 of their property taxes if they are older than 65, totally disabled and make less than $30,000. Others say it could drive up the number of people who lie about being in the military and that it isn't fair because it only applies to certain taxpayers.

Missouri Amendment 3

This amendment would prohibit the legislature from enacting a transfer tax, a tax paid when property is sold or transferred. Missouri does not have a transfer tax but several surrounding states do.

The Missouri Association of Realtors is the main group supporting the amendment and say a transfer tax, if enacted, would amount to a double tax when the property taxes owners already pay is taken into account. They say extra taxes would hurt homeowners during the economic downturn.

There is little organized opposition to the amendment but some critics, such as St. Louis University professor Peter Salsich, say taxes should be excluded through legislative debate and not constitutional amendment.

Missouri Proposition A

The proposition would put the earnings taxes in Kansas City and St. Louis up for a vote in 2011 and every five years after that. If the taxes were rejected, they would be phased out at one-tenth of one percent per year.

Proponents say the measure is important because it would allow voters to decide if they want to continue paying the taxes and it would let voters in other cities decide whether they want to enact any such taxes. They say repealing the tax would stimulate business growth in the two cities.

Some Kansas City and St. Louis officials oppose the proposition, saying earning tax revenues make a major portion of those cities' budgets.

Missouri Proposition B

This measure would change regulations for large-scale dog breeders across the state, limit breeders to owning no more than 50 breeding dogs to produce puppies for sale and create the misdemeanor offense of "puppy mill cruelty" for violations of the state law.

Several animal rights groups support the measure, including the Humane Society of Missouri, the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. They say the new law would create more sanitary and humane conditions in Missouri, which has the most dog breeders in the country.

Opponents say limiting breeders to 50 dogs limits their ability to make a sustainable profit and say the measure could be used as precedent to limit the number of animals cattle herders and other livestock breeders could have on their farms.

Columbia Proposition 1

Columbia has a park sales tax equal to one-quarter of one percent of a total purchase to raise money for upkeep and projects in city parks. Half of that tax (one-eighth of one percent) is permanent and the other half goes up for renewal every five years. The tax was first approved in 2005.

A renewal of the tax is supported by several groups in Columbia, including the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department and Friends of Columbia's Parks, a group formed by mayor Bob McDavid to help the renewal pass. Proponents say the tax has helped fund many projects since its passage and say it will generate $12.5 million in funding for city parks over the next five years.

There is little organized opposition to the tax renewal but members of the Boone County Libertarian Party have said they do not believe it is fair everyone pays the tax on sales when not everyone supports it, according to previous Maneater reports.

Columbia Proposition 2

According to the official ballot text of this proposition, it would make it a misdemeanor for individual citizens, including police officers, to threaten to use Tasers, stun guns or any other conducted electrical devices against any other person within the city.

Supporters, including People for a Taser-Free Columbia, say Tasers are dangerous and need to be carefully regulated. They say the Columbia Police Department should not be able to use Tasers because the electrical shock or falls from being tased has injured suspects. They say the measure would still allow people to buy, sell and possess Tasers, and they doubt prosecutors would press charges against a potential crime victim who used a Taser in self-defense.

Opponents, including the Columbia Police Officers Association, say officers need Tasers to effectively control some suspects and say Tasers are not used very frequently and are not very dangerous. Others who oppose the measure say private citizens should be able to own Tasers even if the police department does not use them.

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