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Columbia Missourian

Missouri Constitution adds three amendments following Tuesday's election

By Esten Hurtle
November 3, 2010 | 8:19 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Missouri voters passed three constitutional amendments yesterday, adding inches to what is already one of the longest state constitutions in the United States.

"It's an exceptionally long document," said Dave Roland, director of litigation at the Freedom Center of Missouri and a former policy analyst at the Show-Me Institute.

Often, advocates of an issue will use the amendment process to prevent future challenges to a law, said 24th district representative Chris Kelly.

"Generally people do that because they're afraid that somebody would later change what they did," Kelly said.

Roland said adding narrowly-tailored legislation to the constitution was not par for the course in Missouri.

"It's not completely unheard of, but it is very unusual," he said.

Amendment 1 will require that county assessors be elected officials for every county except for Jackson County. This is already the case for every county that would be covered by this amendment, said Boone County assessor Tom Schauwecker.

"112 of 115 (county assessors) are elected," he said. "Why would the voters not approve a measure they already know?"

Kelly said the passage of Amendment 1 represented an attempt to solidify the legislation from future changes by the state legislature.

"The reason they did Amendment 1 like that was because they specifically wanted to prevent the legislature from changing it," Kelly said. "I think that's an inappropriate use of the constitutional amendment process."

Amendment 2 exempted former prisoners of war with a total service-connected disability from paying property taxes on their homes.

"I believe in the case of the POW it was required that we do it by constitutional amendment because there was something in the constitution that had to change," Kelly said.

Roland said this was another example of a narrowly-tailored constitutional amendment.

"We've got all the respect in the world for the members of the military, but this sets up a separate class of citizen who the laws apply to differently than everyone else," Roland said.

Amendment 3 prohibits the state from collecting any taxes on the sale or transfer of homes and real estate. Kelly said that the advocates of the amendment likely passed it to referendum for similar reasons as Amendment 1. They wanted to make sure that future legislatures would not have the opportunity to change the law, he said.

Kenney Hubble, president of the Columbia Board of Realtors, said passing Amendment 3 will ensure that Missouri would never be among the 37 other states collecting taxes on the transfer of real estate.