Nov 22

Light Up, Pay Up More? The Effort To Raise Taxes On Tobacco In Missouri

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – Missouri has the lowest sales tax on tobacco in America and, so far, voters have made sure to keep it that way.

In recent years, Missourians have turned down three different proposals to increase taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products. That’s not deterring some groups from trying again. Multiple efforts are underway to put different tobacco tax proposals on the ballot in 2016. We highlighted one of those earlier this year. Click here to hear from a supporter and an opponent of the “Raise Your Hand For Kids” tax increase effort.

Now, a previous opponent of efforts to hike taxes on tobacco is now promoting their own proposals to do just that.

Ron Leone (below, left) from the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association explains why they aren’t just behind the concept this year, they are actually proposing a couple versions of an initiative that would increase the tax.

His primary complaint about past proposals is that they were, in his opinion, excessive. His organization’s proposals are lower than what’s been on the ballot in previous years. One of their proposals would direct the funds towards highways and transportation needs in the state. The other would add to the general revenue the state government takes in each year.

Patrick Werner from Americans for Prosperity (below, right) has a different take on the approach. He calls for further reductions in spending and business-friendly reforms if lawmakers want to increase spending on children’s programs (as called for in the “Raise Your Hand” campaign) or for transportation or any other need.

On the web:

Americans For Prosperity – Missouri

Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association


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Nov 15

Dollars, Sense, Small Business and Unions: What’s Next For Missouri’s Economy?

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – “Right To Work”, “Paycheck Protection” or what opponents call “Paycheck Deception”, the minimum wage, court reforms and even the number of lawmakers we elect to write laws in Jefferson City. This week, we get viewpoints on those from the small business community and from organized labor in Missouri.

“Right To Work” has made gains in the Missouri Legislature over the past couple years and it will very likely be debated again. That will have an impact on both the politics of the Legislative Session and on the 2016 elections.

Brad Jones (below, left) is the President of Missouri’s branch of the National Federation of Independent Business and Mike Louis (below, right) is the President of the Missouri AFL-CIO. They offer very different views on the decisions that will impact your wallet in 2016. Jones says many small businesses work on such slim margins that attempts to unionize their shops could put many out of business. Louis disagrees and says unions only want higher wagers and more robust benefits for workers, not to put employers out of business.

Both discuss efforts to increase the minimum wage in Missouri as well. Right now, multiple petitions are being promoted to put a minimum wage increase on the statewide ballot.

When asked about other priorities for 2016, Jones says his group wants to see more protections in the courtroom through legal reforms. Louis mentions a proposal that would actually decrease the number of state lawmakers in the State Legislature, which is currently dominated by Republicans.

On the web:

National Federation of Independent Business – Missouri branch

Missouri AFL-CIO


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Nov 08

The Ferguson Commission Report: A Free Market-Based Response

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – By the end of 2015, the Ferguson Commission will dissolve and its work will officially be done. That’s by design. The working group was appointed and funded by Governor Jay Nixon following the turmoil in Ferguson and other areas of St. Louis after the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer.

Efforts to make changes will continue after the Commission finishes its official duties. The Ferguson Commission Report is a series of recommendations to change laws and increase some government programs. While the discussion began with a focus on Ferguson, everyone in Missouri will be impacted in some way if State Lawmakers follow the suggestions. Supporters say the goal is to address the underlying tensions and issues that contributed to the protests that put Ferguson on worldwide television.

Dr. Rachel Douchant of Lindenwood University’s Liberty & Ethics Center (part of the Hammond Institute for Free Enterprise) explains why she feels there is a better response to healing communities – like Ferguson, MO – that have been damaged by unrest and violence.

She believes that an approach based on free markets and less regulation is a better option than one led by increased government through programs, laws and spending.

Also, Andrew Wilson from the Show Me Institute* responds to the policy recommendations in the Ferguson Commission Report.

NOTE: Multiple invitations have been extended to the Ferguson Commission to have a Commissioner appear on “Missouri Viewpoints” to speak in support of the Report. To date, the Commission has not scheduled a representative to be on the program.

On the web:

The Ferguson Commission & The Ferguson Commission Report

The Liberty and Ethics Center

The Show Me Institute

* The Show Me Institute is a sponsor of “Missouri Viewpoints”


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Nov 01

Your Money, Your Identity & Your Reputation: How To Protect Yourself

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) The holiday season is upon us. That often means our hearts and wallets are more open as we are more giving this time of year.

Unfortunately, con artists and thieves are counting on that and they are counting on us not being careful to protect ourselves and our money.

Better Business Bureau investigator Bill Smith provides updates on the common scams used during the holiday season. He also provides advice on protecting your money, identity and for making sure your donations go to legitimate charities.

Also, AT&T Missouri President John Sondag* explains apps and other tools that are available to protect people – especially young people – from potential danger on social media.

On the web:

Better Business Bureau

AT&T Missouri

* ATT Missouri is a sponsor of “Missouri Viewpoints”

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Oct 25

Criminal Justice and Embryo Defense: The Legal Challenges of 2015 in Missouri

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – “…if you cannot afford and attorney, one will be provided for you…”

From watching police shows like “COPS“, we’ve all heard that part of the Miranda Warning that’s read to criminal suspects after an arrest. If they cannot afford a lawyer, the suspects’ legal counsel comes from the state’s Public Defender office.

State Public Defender Michael Barrett (below, left) says they need more lawyers because the case load is too high to effectively handle right now. Barrett also says everyone should be concerned about that even if you’ve never been on the wrong side of an arrest.

Also, one court battle in Missouri could affect the entire nation.

Jasha McQueen’s (below, right) marriage has ended but some embryos she and her now ex husband had frozen remain. She wants to keep them and he does not. Among the challenges before the courts is the fact that very little law is written now to address this situation.

Is it a pro-life/pro-choice conflict? Is it a custody dispute? Is the situation a matter of divorce-related marital property?

The ruling here could set precedent nationwide. McQueen has founded Embryo Defense as a result of the case. She discusses what’s at stake and why everyone should be informed about this emerging science and area of law.

On the web:

Missouri State Public Defender’s Office

Embryo Defense

Michael Barrett DirectorJasha

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Oct 18

Leading in State Government and the Campaign for US Senate: Speaker Todd Richardson and Secretary of State Jason Kander

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – 2015 has, obviously, been a difficult year in Missouri’s state government.

The tragic loss of State Auditor Tom Schweich was followed by two resignations of lawmakers (one Republican, one Democrat) who were accused of personal misconduct. In related problems, the state’s intern program was also the center of high profile controversies.

Our current Speaker of the House, Representative Todd Richardson (R), assumed that role when one of the aforementioned resignations removed then-Speaker John Diehl from office. Richardson inherited the leadership role where his party has overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the State Legislature.

He says there are still changes that need to be made to improve what happens at the State Capitol.

Among the goals the Speaker discusses this week are his plans to overhaul the internship program and institute new House rules regarding sexual harassment. He also talks about legislative goals, including another push for a “right to work” law in 2016. That proposal made it through the Legislature this year and vetoed by Governor Nixon. The effort to override that veto failed.

Also, this week’s episode includes Secretary of State Jason Kander (D), whose campaign to unseat US Senator Roy Blunt next year is drawing national attention already.

Kander explains his outlook on rebuilding our economy by focusing on the middle class. He’s proposing an income tax cut for middle class Americans and says he wants to increase taxes and end some tax incentives for large corporations. Kander says those incentives are rewarding companies for moving their workforce outside the US.

On matters impacting our relationships with countries in the Middle East, Kander reaffirms his opposition to the recent nuclear deal with Iran.

He also discusses why he feels Planned parenthood should continue to receive federal funding.

On the web:

Rep. Todd Richardson (below, left)

Sec. Jason Kander (below, right)


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