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28 October 2010

Kraus: Upcoming Ballot Issues

November Ballot Issues

Voters will have a lot to decide besides candidates in the November 2 General Election.  It features five statewide ballot issues.  In addition, both Lee's Summit and Kansas City have ballot questions specific to those who live within their respective borders.  Because it is helpful to know the question before you are in the booth with pencil in hand and faced with a choice, I want to briefly recap all of the ballot issues.

Statewide, there are three constitutional amendment questions and two propositions.  A constitutional amendment amends Missouri's state constitution.  A proposition, however, amends Missouri law or statutes.

Amendment #1, if passed, would require the office of county assessor to be an elected position in all counties with a charter form of government, with the exception of counties with a population between 600,001 and 699,999.  This proposal will mostly affect St. Louis County, brought about by the number of complaints from that area of the state over assessed property valuation.  Because Jackson County is within the exempted population range, it would not be affected by passage of this amendment.

Amendment #2, if passed, would exempt any Missouri citizen who is a former prisoner of war with a total service-connected disability from having to pay property taxes on all real property used as a homestead.

Amendment #3, if passed, would prevent the state, counties or other political subdivision from placing a tax on the sale or transfer of homes or any other real estate.  This includes any transfer tax or sales tax.  Missouri does not currently impose such a tax; this amendment would prohibit the state from ever passing such a tax.

Proposition A also deals with a tax.  Currently, both St. Louis and Kansas City impose an earnings tax.  For the cities that currently impose this tax, Proposition A, if passed, would require an election be held at the next municipal election and thereafter every five years to give the voters a chance to vote up or down on continuance of the tax.  If voted down, cities would have 10 years to phase out the tax.  For other cities in the state, a yes vote on this proposition would repeal their authority to ever use earnings taxes to fund their budgets.

Proposition B, if passed, would impose additional regulations on dog breeding operations.  This proposition is opposed by the Missouri Farm Bureau and Missouri Veterinary Medical Association and supported by animal rights groups.

Locally, Lee's Summit has four questions on the ballot.  Each seeks authority to issue general obligation bonds for such items as equipment, sidewalks, and road improvements.

Kansas City also has one ballot question seeking issuance of general obligation bonds to retire debt.  Two additional questions are on its ballot - one to impose a sales tax of ¼ percent to fund public safety measures and one to require redistricting of Council districts every 10 years.

I hope this summary will help you understand the questions you will encounter in the voting booth.  The exact wording for these ballot questions can be found at the Jackson County Election Board website (statewide and Lee's Summit), and the Kansas City Board of Election website (statewide and Kansas City).  Whatever your position on these issues, don't forget to get out and vote next Tuesday!

PSC to Hold Public Hearings on KCP&L Electric Rate Cases

The Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) will hold local public hearings in December to receive customer comments on two electric rate increases filed by KCP&L.

The first case was filed by the KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations Company.  Both its Missouri Public Service (MPS) and L&P (formerly St. Joseph Light and Power) service territories are requesting a rate increase of nearly $15 per month for the typical residential customer.

Testimony will also be taken from customers of Kansas City Power & Light Company which also has an electric rate case before the PSC. If granted, that rate increase would be nearly $13 per month for the typical residential customer.

December 7, Kansas City. Two local public hearings will be held at the Cohen Conference Center of the Kansas City Public Library-Plaza Branch, 4801 Main Street.

For the first hearing, a PSC public information/question and answer session starts at 11:30 a.m. The local public hearing and the taking of sworn testimony will follow.  Beginning at the end of the first hearing and until 5:30 p.m., the Commission will host a listening post. PSC staff members will be available to answer questions from the public.

A second local public hearing will start at 5:30 p.m. with a PSC public information/question and answer session. The local public hearing and the taking of sworn testimony will follow.

December 8, Lee's Summit. Lee's Summit North High School, Lecture Hall, 901 NE Douglas Street. A PSC staff public information/question and answer session starts at 5:30 p.m. with the local public hearing and the taking of sworn testimony to follow.

If you wish to comment or need further information, you may contact the Office of the Public Counsel, P.O. Box 2230, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102-2230; telephone 1-866-922-2959; email opcservice{at}ded{dot}mo{dot}gov or the Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 360, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102; telephone 1-800-392-4211; email pscinfo{at}psc{dot}mo{dot}gov.

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