October 31, 2002
Food For Thought As You Head To Polls November 5
The Memphis Democrat has made a concerted effort to provide our readers with information regarding issues in the upcoming November 5 election.Please take the time to read this information, make educated choices, and be sure to excercise your right to vote.Check out these articles on constitutional amendments and view the links to our interviews with our candidates for county and state offices that will serve Scotland County.
Rep. Sam Berkowitz and Senator John Cauthorn met in Canton October 24 for a televised debate for the State Senate race. The Memphis Democrat posed some questions of our own to the two senate candidates as well as the First District Representative hopefuls.
Amendment One To Decide Home Rule For St. Louis
Missouri voters statewide will decide on the issue of Home Rule for the City of St. Louis by voting on Amendment One to the Missouri Constitution.
Unlike other first class counties - Jackson, Greene, Boone, and others - which automatically qualified for Home Rule when their populations reached 85,000 people, the City of St. Louis was denied Home Rule by a quirk in the Missouri Constitution, and now needs a statewide vote to receive Home Rule.
Home Rule is the local authority of the voters and county council of a county to oversee the functions of the administrative, financial and judicial functions provided for its citizens (sheriff, treasurer, collector of revenue, etc.)
In the Missouri Legislature each session, over 15 bills are introduced pertaining only to the seven county offices in St. Louis, far more than for any other county. If Amendment One is passed, those issues will be dealt with in St. Louis, at the local level, making the city responsible for its own local issues, and freeing up time in the legislature for statewide issues.
The Missouri Constitution already recognizes that Home Rule is desirable for every other city and county in the state.
Amendment One has been endorsed by the Missouri Municipal League, the Missouri Association of Counties and the mayors of Kansas City, Springfield and Columbia.
Former State Officials Backing Amendment 4
Amendment 4 on the November 5th ballot in Missouri has earned the backing of former Secretary of State Bekki Cook and former State Auditor Margaret Kelly, as part of the Yes on 4 Committee. They are urging the passage of the amendment, which they say has no cost to taxpayers and will help many Missourians by saving millions of dollars in utility costs.
The group argues that the Amendment would enable city-owned electric and natural gas utilities to develop projects in partnership with other utilities without losing local control of their interests in the projects. Members in the Missouri General Assembly were almost unanimous this year in voting to submit the proposal for voter approval.
"Margaret and I are pleased that Amendament 4 is attracting such broad support from all sectors of Missouri," Cook said. "We haven't seen any opposition to the proposal. I think any voter will support it if they get the word about what it means."
Missouri has 88 municipally owned electric utilities, including the City of Memphis, serving approximately 400,000 families and businesses. Municipal natural gas utilities serve more than 100,000 family and business customers.
Cities say that they could save costs on power plants and other new facilities by partnering with each other or any Missouri utility as proposed in Amendment 4. The cities control their own utility costs and rates and would continue to do so under the Amendment.
The City of Memphis is a member in the Missouri Public Energy Pool (MoPEP) along with 23 other cities. MoPEP voted in April to build a new, jointly owned electric power plant if state law would allow it. The group currently buys power jointly as one unit.
Legislation and a statewide vote on the constitutional amendment are necessary to assure the cities' ability to retain local control of the project while financing it jointly.
"We're very encouraged and grateful for the legislature's attention to our citizen's needs," said MoPEP Chairman and Shelbina City Superintendent Dennis Klusmeyer. "Wholesale power markets have become highly volatile, and we need to diversify by having some power available at the cost of production."
Proponents of the Amendment state that Missourians will benefit from the law by helping avoid reliance on out-of-state power sources, while promoting more environmentally-friendly energy resources, and at the same time creating jobs for Missouri workers.
"For more than 14 years as the State Auditor, my job was to find savings for Missouri taxpayers, and Amendment 4 will save money in thousands of Missouri family budgets," Kelly said.
Rep. Sam Berkowitz - Democratic Candidate for State Senate
Sen. John Cauthorn - Republican Candidate for State Senate
Paul Campbell - Democratic Candidate for State Representative
Brian Munzlinger - Republican Candidate for State Representative
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