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Readers Strongly Opposed To Possible Missouri “Religious Freedom” Constitutional Amendment

In August 2004 Missouri voters approved a state constitutional amendment that barred legal recognition of same-sex marriages, it passed with 71% support. This was ruled unconstitutional in June 2015 when the US Supreme Court ruled states cannot ban same-sex marriages. Eleven years.

Some view LGBT rights as an affront to their religion:

In 1993, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Originally, the federal law was intended to apply to federal, state, and local governments. In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court in City of Boerne v. Flores held that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act only applies to the federal government, but not states and other local municipalities within them. As a result, 21 states passed state RFRAs before 2014.

In 2014, the United States Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. recognizing a for-profit corporation’s claim of religious belief. Nineteen members of Congress who signed the original RFRA stated in a submission to the Supreme Court that they “could not have anticipated, and did not intend, such a broad and unprecedented expansion of RFRA”. The members further stated that RFRA “extended free-exercise rights only to individuals and to religious, non-profit organizations. No Supreme Court precedent had extended free-exercise rights to secular, for-profit corporations.” Following this decision, many states have proposed expanding state RFRA laws to include for-profit corporations, including in Arizona where SB 1062 was passed but was vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer in 2014. (Wikipedia: Religious Freedom Restoration Act)

Which brings us to Indiana’s 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act:

After the law passed on March 26, 2015, reaction was swift, strong and negative, with cancellations of planned events and business expansions, travel bans and denunciations from across the spectrum: companies including Salesforce, Apple, Eli Lilly and Angie’s List; sports leagues including the NCAA, NBA and WNBA; states and municipalities coast to coast; rock concerts; comedy shows and church groups. (Forbes: Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act Cost Indianapolis $60 Million In Lost Revenue)

And now the Missouri legislature wants to join the cause, which will cost its two biggest and liberal cities. Kansas City & St. Louis.

Should either SB 916 or SJR 39 become law, Missouri could experience the same kind of backlash as Indiana. Expect cancellations of conventions in St. Louis and Kansas City. Businesses worried about protecting their reputations would put expansion plans on hold in Missouri. Lawsuits would ring down like thunder. (Post-Dispatch Editorial: The no-catering-gay-weddings issue comes to Missouri)

Thankfully the readers here are strongly opposed to such measures, from the Sunday Poll:

Q: Missouri is one step closer to having a “religious freedom” constitutional amendment on a ballot. Support or oppose such an amendment?

  • Strongly support 5 [10.2%] Note: one reader says he voted for this by mistake, wanted “Strongly oppose” instead.
  • Support 1 [2.04%]
  • Somewhat support 0 [0%]
  • Neither support or oppose 2 [4.08%]
  • Somewhat oppose 0 [0%]
  • Oppose 4 [8.16%]
  • Strongly oppose 37 [75.51%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

If it clears the last vote in the legislature Gov Nixon can’t veto it — he can only decide if placed on the August or November ballot.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Sunday Poll: Support or Oppose a “Religious Freedom” Constitutional Amendment in Missouri?

Please vote below
Please vote below

Last week a bill moved closer to being placed on the August or November ballot.

The measure would amend the Missouri Constitution to prohibit the government from punishing individuals and businesses that refuse on religious grounds to provide goods or services for marriage ceremonies or celebrations of same-sex couples. (Kansas City Star)

So this is the topic for today’s poll:

The poll is open until 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

Voting For Bernie Sanders Today Via Absentee Ballot

Vintage photo of the former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. From my collection
Vintage photo of the former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. From my collection

Absentee voting begins today in Missouri.

I’m a regular voter who rarely misses an election, but eight years ago I didn’t vote in Missouri’s Presidential Presence Primary, held on February 5, 2008. I have a good excuse for not voting though — I was sedated in the ICU at Saint Louis University Hospital. The afternoon of February 1st, at home alone, I had a rare hemorrhagic stroke. The next morning, 15-16 hours later, a worried friend found me.

Three weeks later I was awake again and starting physical therapy. Friends told me they joked about telling me it was already November and Mitt Romney had been elected — McCain hadn’t yet won the GOP nomination.

John McCain had won Missouri’s 2008 Republican Primary with 32.96% of the vote, with Mike Huckabee 2nd and Mitt Romney 3rd. In Missouri’s 2008 Democratic Primary Barack Obama barely won — with 49.32% to Hillary Clinton’s 47.9% — so close they evenly split Missouri’s delegates.  The 2008 Iowa caucuses were held on January 3rd that year. My father had died on New Year’s Day, so I wasn’t paying attention to politics.

I was home for the conventions, but I don’t recall having any strong feelings about Obama vs Clinton. After both parties nominated their candidates and running mates were selected, I became excited about Obama-Biden. After 2011 I my downtown loft got redistricted from the 6th ward to 5th ward — changing my polling place. At first it was ok, Patrick Henry Elementary on 10th Street.   Then it changed to a community center that was closer — but harder to reach. I was using my power wheelchair more and driving less, so access was an issue. I began voting absentee.

I’d like to see early voting in Missouri.

You might think I’m a recent Bernie Sanders supporter — swayed by the recent surge in the polls. No. By June 2015 Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley had all officially entered the race for the Democratic nomination.  Before then I’d been leaning toward Clinton, but I had to do my due diligence. Initially I was impressed with O”Malley — and I liked his youth. After Obama was elected in 2008 I told myself I’d only support someone born in the 60s or later. But as I researched these three the oldest candidate stood out as the best candidate.

I took the ISideWith.com‘s detailed quiz and Bernie Sanders was my top match on the issues. His long record, passion, and energy won my support. He also won the support of my husband — a millennial voter. For months now we’ve been following the issues & campaigns and still see Bernie Sanders as the only choice in the primary. This is my 8th presidential election as a voter  — I’ve never been as excited about a candidate.

On Sunday February 27th marches in support of Bernie Sanders will be held coast to coast — St. Louis’ will be downtown — details are still being finalized.

In Missouri, the last day to register to vote in the primary is February 17th.   The primary is six weeks from today: March 15th. In the sidebar (desktop) I have links to various county election boards in the region.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Display Of Vehicle License Plates — Rear vs. Front & Rear

Today’s poll is about displaying vehicle license plates — the rear-only vs. front & rear debate.

Please vote below
Please vote below

The poll will be open until 8pm, answers are presented in a random order.

 

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: To Fund MoDOT Missouri Should Increase Fuel Taxes, Toll I-70, & Revise Our Open Container Law

The floor of the Missouri House of Representatives, 2011
The floor of the Missouri House of Representatives, 2011

The Missouri Department of Revenue needs more money, voters rejected a sales tax. The Missouri legislature continues to ignore the most obvious solutions. Readers in the Sunday Poll put the options in the right order:

Q: Of the following, what should Missouri do to solve MoDOT’s funding shortfall: (check all that apply)

  1. Increase fuel taxes 35 [38.04%]
  2. TIE  20 [21.74%]
    1. Revise Missouri’s open container law so we can receive additional federal highway dollars
    2. Toll I-70 between metro STL & metro KC
  3. Increase vehicle licensing/registration fees 13 [14.13%]
  4. Increase sales taxes 4 [4.35%]
  5. Nothing, stay the course 0 [0%]

Our fuel taxes are among the lowest in the country and our neighboring states — this is obvious.  Another is changing Missouri’s open container law — I mean actually having one:

Although a driver is prohibited from consuming alcohol while driving, Missouri has no general open container law for vehicles, a characteristic which Missouri shares only with the states of Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Mississippi, Virginia, and West Virginia. Any non-driving vehicle passenger thus is permitted to possess an open container and consume alcohol in Missouri while the vehicle is in motion, although 31 smaller municipalities, the largest being Independence and St. Charles, have local open container laws. The metropolises of St. Louis and Kansas City have no local open container laws, and thus the state law (or lack thereof) governs. This makes it possible for a passenger to drink legally through the entire 250-mile (400 km) trip across Missouri on Interstate 70between Downtown Kansas City and Downtown St. Louis, only closing his container while passing through the city limits of Independence, Bates City, Columbia, Foristell, and St. Charles.

As a result of having no state open container laws, under the federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st century of 1999, a percentage of Missouri’s federal highway funds is transferred instead to alcohol education programs each year. Since 1999, the Missouri General Assembly has considered several bills which would have created open container regimens satisfying the federal law, but each one “failed due to weak legislative support.” Anheuser-Busch leads opposition to enacting a passenger open container law. (Wikipedia)

What?

The federal law encourages states to outlaw open containers by changing the earmarks for transportation funding. Under TEA-21, federal standards require a complete ban on open containers in vehicles, and states not conforming must divert funds from road maintenance into alcohol education, enforcement and crash prevention. The Fed can’t tell states what to do, but they’re not against making this money-backed suggestion.

The rub is about $12 million less each year for road maintenance in Missouri, according to MoDOT spokeswoman Kristi Jamison. The trade-off is somewhat political; Missouri asserts its sovereignty by refusing to overstep the boundaries of private property, and the diverted money helps ameliorate drunk driving problems in the state. “One of the positive benefits is that it also goes to law enforcement to help with DUI enforcements, whether through overtime or equipment to help out,” Jamison says, and adds that the funds also contribute to 500 miles of guard cable on highway dividers. (Vox Magazine)

So millions every year aren’t being used to maintain our roads & bridges because an influential brewer wants to make sure passengers can consume their products?

— Steve Patterson

 

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