Nov 16

What’s Next For Missouri? Assessing The Election Results & What It Will Mean In 2015

By Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – The proverbial dust has settled from the General Election. As is generally the case across the country, Republicans in Missouri have much to celebrate and Democrats have much to mourn, politically, at least.

Aside from the numbers of seats won and lost be each side, what will it mean to you?

This week, Missouri Republican Party Chairman Ed Martin offers his views on what the increase in Republicans to an already veto-proof majority State Legislature will mean for issues like taxes, education, Medicaid and economic development.MWSnap023

Coming from a more liberal viewpoint, Lindenwood University professor, Joe Cernik, addresses the same issues. Cernik is the Chair of the Public Affairs Department.

Martin, for instance, explains why the proposal to expand Medicaid coverage in Missouri is unlikely to pass. He believes voters sent, at least in part, a message of being against the national health care law known commonly as “ObamaCare”. Cernik believes Democrats lost, in part, because they didn’t tout the law and it’s impact on Missourians – and Americans.

Martin makes a case for more tax cuts and spending cuts while Cernik says that approach hasn’t worked in neighboring Kansas.

* Cernik’s views are his own and may not necessarily reflect that of Lindenwood University.MWSnap024

On the Web:

Missouri Republican Party: www.Missouri.gop

Lindenwood University: www.Lindenwood.edu

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/whats-next-for-missouri-assessing-the-election-results-what-it-will-mean-in-2015/

Nov 09

Politics, Economy, the Environment and Your Electric Bill in Missouri

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – While the elections have dominated the news these last few weeks, our state government is working on an energy plan for the future. Regardless of what the plan ends up including or excluding, it will impact you.

It’s called simply the Missouri State Energy Plan and you can still voice your opinion on what should and should not be included.

Among those working to influence the final plan is Renew Missouri. Executive Director P.J. Wilson explains.MWSnap022

“Our hopes at Renew Missouri is that the state plan includes a really serious look at energy efficiency and renewable energy as resources. We know that when power companies invest money in energy audits and extra insulation and that kind of thing for their own customers, that’s by far the cheapest thing they can invest in. It’s way cheaper than any form of new power generation.”

The goal of the state plan is to reduce carbon emissions while ensuring reliable access to power. Former State Representative Carl Bearden isn’t sold on assertions from environmental advocacy groups that man-made climate change requires abandoning current energy sources like coal. He wants those making the final decisions to keep the needs of businesses in mind during the process.

“As a lawmaker, a legislature, you want to know the laws you’re passing are based on solid science or solid evidence and, so far, as far and environmental [issues] go, whether it’s global warming or whatever the name du jour is, it’s simply not there in sufficient quantities to convince people.”MWSnap021

Bearden is now the Executive Director of the conservative advocacy group United For Missouri.

He worries that requiring more sourcing from renewable energy for power and mandating less use of coal will result in job losses due to higher energy costs. Wilson disagrees, saying the green energy technology for sources like solar and wind now make renewable energy as efficient as coal-powered energy.

The effort to create a state energy plan is the result of a federal initiative to reduce carbon emissions. Each state has an individual goal.

Bearden says in an interview on “Missouri Viewpoints” that he supports the use of renewable energy for electricity as long as government mandates are not part of the process. To him, the private market will attract both investors and customers to green energy once it delivers power at the same or at a lower cost than coal.

Wilson says he hopes the state plan will include retiring current fossil fuel-based energy plants and not replacing them with a newer one. He wants the state to, instead, focus on bringing renewable energy generation on line to take the place of coal.

On the web:

Renew Missouri: www.RenewMO.org

United For Missouri: www.UnitedForMissouri.org

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/politics-economy-the-environment-and-your-electric-bill-in-missouri/

Oct 31

Election 2014: Perspective From Both Missouri’s Right and Left

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – Tuesday is the big day. Are you informed and ready to vote?

This year presents Missouri with a unique election cycle. While there is a statewide office up for election, Republican Auditor Tom Schweich faces no Democratic opponent and will, in all probability, be elected since he faces only third party opposition.

There are some proposed state Constitutional amendments on the ballot as well. See our previous shows for a look at Amendments 6 and 10.

That makes the importance of this Election Day focuses on local races; particularly races for the State Legislature. The outcome of those local races add up to big decisions on how the state will operate in 2015 and beyond.

This week, Ryan Johnson from the conservative Missouri Alliance for Freedom and Sean Nicholson from the liberal Progress Missouri offer their perspectives on what’s at stake and why they each think their side will make gains on Tuesday.

On the web:

Missouri Alliance for Freedom www.MissouriFreedom.com

Progress Missouri www.ProgressMissouri.org

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/election-2014-perspective-from-both-missouris-right-and-left/

Oct 24

Election Preview: Amendment 6

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – Should Election Day become for of an election period of time? Instead of requiring voters to cast their ballots on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November, we could see a change in Missouri that would allow us to cast that same ballot on a day we choose.

That’s what Amendment 6 is all about. If passed by voters, it would allow a six day early voting period prior to the General Election. Many states already have some form of early voting. Missouri has absentee voting, which requires the voter to have a reason for why they are unable to get to the polls on Election Day. Early voting does not require a reason.

What’s proposed with Amendment 6 is allowing early voting for six business days, up to the Wednesday prior to the General Election. Aaron Baker from Missourians For Free and Fair Elections speaks in favor of the plan on this week’s “Missouri Viewpoints”.MWSnap017

Glenn Koening from the Missouri Association for Social Welfare argues against Amendment 6, even though MASW supports the concept of early voting. He points out that the proposal does not allow for voting on weekends and doesn’t require that early voting be offered. The State Legislature and the Governor would have to approve funding for early voting to enable that to happen. If the budget is too lean, the elections would remain a one-day event.

MASW supported a plan to allow six weeks of early voting, including weekends. Baker says the problem with that is the cost and the impact it would have on local election officials.

 

 

MWSnap018

As proposed, Amendment 6 is estimated to cost about $2 million up front and hundreds of thousands of dollars each year early voting would be used, although there’s no exact cost known at this point.

On the web:

Missouri Association for Social Welfare: www.MASW.org

Amendment 6/ Missouri Secretary of State’s page: http://sos.mo.gov/elections/2014ballot/

* Missourians for Free and Fair Elections does not have a website

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/election-preview-amendment-6/

Oct 17

Election Preview: Missouri’s Amendment 10

Note: as we get closer to the November 4th General Election, we will be addressing some of the proposals voters will decide at the polls over the next few weeks. this week’s show is the first in a series of three programs focused on election issues.

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – Election Day is just weeks away, are you ready?

This year, there is no major contest on the ballot for a statewide office. State Auditor Tom Schweich (R) faces no Democratic opposition but there are some important state constitutional amendment proposals voters will decide.

Among them: Amendment 10. If approved, it would make a big change to the rules when it comes to state government spending.

In recent years, Republicans in the State Legislature have accused Governor Jay Nixon of using his ability to withhold spending that has already been budgeted and approved in order to gain leverage on other political issues. Spending withholds are legal and have been used by governors from both parties for many years in Missouri.

As things stand now, when the Governor (regardless of party affiliation) withholds state funds already approved to be spent, he has the final say on the matter and may choose to release the funds at a later date – or not at all. If passed by voters, Amendment 10 would grant the State Legislature (regardless of which party has a majority in one or both chambers) the ability to vote on the withhold and force the release of the funds in question.MWSnap016

The proposal calls for a two-thirds majority vote to force the release of the spending, which would make the process basically the same as an override of a line item veto.

In this week’s program, Missouri Budget Project Director of Policy Jay Hardenbrook argues against the proposal while State Representative Todd Richardson (R) argues in favor of it.MWSnap015

Hardenbrook says, among other reasons, the Governor needs the ability to withhold funds because economic conditions can quickly change after the budget process is complete and sometimes revenues simply don’t meet expectations, creating a shortfall.

Richardson says those concerns are addressed in the proposal because it would also require budgeting based on current revenue streams, not based on projected revenue.

On the web:

Missouri Budget Project: www.MOBudget.org

Rep. Todd Richardson: www.RichardsonForMissouri.com

2014 Missouri Ballot Measures: http://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/2014ballot/

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/election-preview-missouris-amendment-10/

Oct 10

Government’s Role In Missourians’ Health

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – It’s the premise of many political debates in Missouri right now: the question of what role, if any, should government have in our lives.

When it comes to health, that question ripples through discussions at the local, state and national level.

Despite resistance from lawmakers and a setback from voters, the American Cancer Society’s Missouri branch continues to push for increased regulations and higher taxes they say will save lives and save taxpayers money in the long run. The national organization recently graded all states on their tobacco-related laws, taxes and spending. According to them, Missouri flunked.

Stacy Reliford is part of the ACS Missouri Government Relations team and wants to see the law eliminate smoking from all workplaces, public or private. There’s no realistic chance of that happening on a statewide level right now in Missouri, but several cities have adopted smoking bans around the state. Reliford says that ground-up approach is part of a statewide strategy.MWSnap013

Critics say bans that affect private property, especially businesses that cater to adults like bars, some restaurants and casinos, violates the rights of customers and business owners to make private decisions. Reliford, in a “Missouri Viewpoints” interview, says the regulations are needed for two reasons: to reduce secondhand smoke for everyone and to protect employees. She says that in a tough economy, hourly workers often cannot “vote with their feet” and leave a job because it’s not easy to find work in many places.

The ACS also wants Missouri to increase taxes on tobacco products. That idea was rejected by voters in 2012 but Reliford is still hopeful that the rate will be increased, saying higher costs discourage people from smoking. She also believes the tax increase would be good for the state because smoking-related illnesses are a major impact on Medicaid spending.

While she says she understands the philosophical opposition to more laws and higher taxes, Reliford maintains that the ideas have a proven track record of improving public health.

A part of health care that people often overlook is oral care. The Missouri Coalition for Oral Health hopes Missourians will think of dental health and other parts of physical health together, as opposed to thinking they are unrelated.MWSnap014

Gary Harbison is the Coalition’s Executive Director and wants to increase the awareness of the importance of oral health.

There are public policy efforts for that, too. Among those are increasing Medicaid coverage for oral health needs, including for preventative treatments.

According to the Coalition’s policy position, “Covering routine, preventive oral health care and comprehensive dental treatment for MO HealthNet adults is cost-effective. This will also reduce the use of expensive emergency room and hospitalization services for untreated oral disease and disorders that could have been easily and better managed through routine dental care.

“Oral Health is a key part of overall health. Sound public policy in support of a system of care is needed to ensure that improvement in the oral health of Missourians is achieved and maintained over time.”

On the web:

American Cancer Society’s Missouri “Report Card”: http://www.acscan.org/content/report-cards/missouri/

Missouri Coalition for Oral Health: http://www.oralhealthmissouri.org

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/governments-role-in-missourians-health/

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