Friday, October 28, 2016

Vote 2016 - Two Amendments That Impact the Lake Area

This year's general election will definitely go down in history for... something, I'm just not quite sure what that is yet. I think we all know who we're going to vote for by now and nothing short of a shock to the system type revelation is likely to change our minds. I won't waste anyone's time trying to change minds one way or the other. This is about the other issues on the ballot, specifically two that could impact the lake area, Amendment 1 and Amendment 4.

Federal, state and local governments have learned one thing over the years, getting new taxes passed for even the noblest reasons is practically impossible and any attempt to do so through legislation is political suicide. Rather than work together to improve the efficacy of the current tax base, federal, state and local governments continually try to create new sources of revenue that the average citizen may overlook or, through careful wordcraft might even vote for themselves. One of these two amendments is straightforward enough in it's language, while the other may create some confusion.

It is important to remember that these are proposed state constitutional amendments and as such would require another statewide vote to repeal them if passed. As my college history professor would say, be very careful when it comes to voting for constitutional changes, they are difficult to reverse.

So what are these two amendments, and why are they important to the lake area?

Constitutional Amendment 1  - Update: This measure passed with 80% approval both at the state and county level (wow).
Shall Missouri continue for 10 years the one-tenth of one percent sales/use tax that is used for soil and water conservation and for state parks and historic sites, and resubmit this tax to the voters for approval in 10 years? The measure continues and does not increase the existing sales and use tax of one-tenth of one percent for 10 years. The measure would continue to generate approximately $90 million annually for soil and water conservation and operation of the state park system.

This tax is not an increase but rather a referendum on the continuation of an existing one. The Lake of the Ozarks is home to the largest of Missouri's state parks and it is very popular with visitors. It would not be helpful to remove financial resources needed for its maintenance and improvement. Also, being a lake community, it might be wise to support the soil and water conservation necessary to help preserve the lake's environmental health.

I vote yes.

Constitutional Amendment 4 - Update: This measure passed with 57% approval statewide, 67% in Camden county.
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to prohibit a new state or local sales/use or other similar tax on any service or transaction that was not subject to a sales/use or similar tax as of January 1, 2015? Potential costs to state and local governmental entities are unknown, but could be significant. The proposal’s passage would impact governmental entity’s ability to revise their tax structures. State and local governments expect no savings from this proposal.

Okay, this one we need to talk about a bit.

Also known as the "Taxpayer Protection Act" this amendment is about preventing any potential new taxes on services, specifically personal services such as daycare, professional services such as plumbing, or health care services including doctor visits. Service and use taxes are essentially just another sales tax and as such will impact low and middle income families the most. It is important to note that these taxes, in general, do not currently exist but Missouri state legislators have tried to pass sales taxes on services initiatives in the last seven sessions, including the current one. Because this amendment is preventative law it is worded counterintuitively, a "yes" vote means that such taxes cannot be implemented and that you *don't* want to pay service taxes, ever.

The lake area economy as a whole can be considered a service based one.  We service the vacation industry and this requires a lot of service based support.  Let's take a vacation rental home for example. These types of homes require a variety of services to stay in business, everything from housekeeping to lawn work and they are needed on a very regular basis.  Vacation rental homeowners costs would go up significantly and at least some of these costs would be passed to their guests.  For second home owners, services are essential to help maintain homes that are not occupied much of the time.  Resorts and hotels rely heavily on services to maintain and improve their facilities and they too will likely pass much of theses new costs to the consumer.  Marinas servicing boats will be a major source of tax revenue as well. Voting yes to Amendment 4 could prevent the expense of vacationing at the lake from increasing significantly and the day to day expenses of our residents.

I vote yes.

Vote! For all that is good in this world do not sit out casting your vote on November 8th 2016. I know it's a hard decision... for everyone, but make it you must. People have died for us to have this right. People have died to protect this right. It is your one, concrete, obligation as an American citizen. Be informed, make a decision, take a stand, stand by your decision. - Update: Lowest voter turnout nationally in 20 years. Local voter turnout? 78% (Impressive!)