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Missouri ballot is loaded with important amendments, propositions

Monday, October 27, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:38 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Before going to the polls Nov. 4, we Missourians will have quite a bit of homework to do. Although most people will probably have made up their minds by then about the individuals for whom they will cast ballots, there are constitutional amendments as well as statutory propositions we have to read, study and be prepared to vote for or against.

Amending our state constitution, which was first adopted on July 19, 1820, is an important piece of business. Doing so requires serious consideration. Constitutional Amendment 1 seeks to add a statement that English shall be the language of all governmental meetings at which any public business is discussed, decided or public policy is formulated. While many Missourians may not find this issue particularly important, in some parts of the state this has become a matter of some controversy. It is especially so in areas that have many non-English speaking immigrants.

Constitutional Amendment 4 deals with changing the provisions relating to financing of storm water control projects. While many of us might be unfamiliar with this subject, this is one of those areas of our state government that those of us outside the loop should insist on gaining further information. Legislators who represent us should provide us with all the specifics concerned in this amendment so that we will able to make an informed decision.

Removing the loss limit for individual gamblers and prohibiting any future loss limits is the subject of Proposition A. This proposition would also require identification only to prove the person entering the gambling area is 21. In addition, it would limit the number of casinos to those already built or currently under construction and increase the gambling tax from 20% to 21%. Under this proposition a new specific education fund would be created from the proceeds of this gambling tax, and the law would require that this fund be audited annually.

The enablement of the elderly and disabled to continue to live independently in their homes through the creation of the Missouri Quality Homecare Council is the subject of Proposition B. This council would ensure the availability of home care under Medicaid programs.

Proposition C deals with amending the law to require investor-owned electric utilities to generate or purchase a percentage of their power from renewable energy sources.

Now I can promise you folks, there is a lot fine print to read to unravel all the details of these amendments and propositions. But some of these changes will be costly, thus adding to the state budget. In order to make informed decisions, we need to read and understand these changes. Too often, we don't take the time to understand the full extent of what our vote means.

Whomever we vote into office for president, governor, to Congress or the legislature, we need to remember that these changes in our governing process are just as important. It's at times like these when we have a whole catalog of important matters to deal with that we understand the responsibilities of citizenship. We have to make the laws we want to live by.

While I fully understand the No. 1 issue in this election year is economics, I really don't think the problems in our education system can be too far behind. Still, I'm not one to believe that throwing money at the problem will fix it. We are seriously going to have to restore the belief that education is fundamental to the survival of this democracy.

Too many people fail to understand the important role literacy plays in maintaining our democracy. As more countries grow economically secure and emerge as industrial entities, competition to keep up becomes more intense. Every area in the society must strive to attain the highest ideals if we are to continue our role as world leaders.

Certainly, we don't want to have to live at the mercy of the intellectual elite of other countries. With so many young people dropping out of high school, it's not just a question of who our leaders will be. Who will be our scientists, our medical technicians, our mathematicians? We can't all play video games and text message. Somebody will have to be inventing and manufacturing.

This election will signal the beginning of a new chapter in American history. How we progress is pretty much up to us. Somehow, we are going to have to impress on young parents the necessity of producing an educated populace. We have neglected this issue for so long, I'm not sure if we even have a chance of succeeding.

As a taxpayer, I'm not willing to pay anyone's child to get good grades, even if some folks think that's a good idea. As of now, I'm willing to eat dirt first.

Next choice?

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at nolen@iland.net.


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