Amendment Two would allow relevant evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim under the age of 18. Currently in Missouri, if a person is charged with this type of crime, any prior acts would not be submitted to the judge or jury in regard to their past conduct. This amendment, if passed, would allow a judge to decide if these are relevant and reliable facts and allow the prosecutor to admit them as evidence. With my feelings about child abuse, I don't have to tell you how I voted.
Amendment Three is the initiative petition dealing with ending teacher tenure for new hires and requiring teacher evaluations by testing. The House defeated this issue twice in 2013 because we didn't like the idea that a majority of the evaluation would be based on standardized testing. Like Common Core, this takes local school boards out of the decision process.
Amendment Six would amend the constitution to allow early voting. Currently in the state of Missouri, there are qualifications for absentee voting. This amendment would allow voters to go in six business days prior to an election to cast their votes. The only additional cost of the measure is that larger counties have to provide election judges for the extended time.
The final Amendment deals with restrictions on the Governor's withholding powers. Reductions in line item funding are meant to be an emergency measure to deal with unexpected revenue drops. In recent years it has transformed into a method for the Executive Office to step into the "Bully Pulpit" and express their displeasure with decisions of the General Assembly. There is a time and place for that, and it most certainly is NOT appropriate to withhold much needed funding for schools, veterans, autistic children, elderly, children's services, and mental health services to punish the elected representatives of the people of Missouri. Our Governor even openly bragged that he would restore the funding when he got his way! Well, he got his way and the funding hasn't been restored. This amendment would prohibit the Governor from reducing funding passed by the General Assembly without receiving Legislative consent. This would require him to work with the body and show his reasons why the funding was not available. Out of 197 of us there are more than a few accountants and lawyers that can understand the budget process!
Now I want to share my thoughts on the Missouri initiative petition process. In my opinion it is far too easy for people or organizations to place items on the ballot. Certainly there is a need for a petition process but we need to make sure that the procedure of collecting signatures represents the entire state and not just the highly populated areas where people can pay to have signatures collected. It is certainly worth looking into.
Saturday we were at the Mailes' Sorghum Days celebration and we sure had a great time. As always there was a big crowd and it's great fun watching the little ones discover how tools worked a hundred years ago! Saturday evening we were at the Powell Bridge Societies' Bean feed for great food, fellowship and of course, terrific music.
I'm going to close this by sharing a bit of trivia with you. We are hearing daily about the terrorists sweeping across Iraq. They are being referred to as ISIS and also ISIL. These are NOT synonymous acronyms. ISIS stands for the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria". ISIL stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant". The Levant is the land bridge from Turkey to Egypt and includes all territory from Iran to Egypt. Therefore, anyone who refers to ISIL is denying that the State of Israel exists! Everywhere in the civilized world they are referred to as ISIS except the official spokespersons of the United States!