Letters to the Editor
Deep concern about Amendment 2
I have read it -- the whole Amendment 2 with Definitions. It is disconcerting that I cannot read the items in the constitution this would change, but what I can read is enough to make me shudder.
First of all, "somatic cell nuclear transfer" is cloning and the amendment would simply make it illegal to implant a cloned blastocyst into a human uterus. (Section 6, Definition 2) The amendment sounds noble in that we the citizens of Missouri are guaranteed access to medical breakthroughs. When have we not? This amendment is a cleverly worded bill that protects the researchers right to clone. Dr. Stowers and his associates have been conducting this research for years already and the good people of Missouri have let him even profit by it. Why is an amendment needed to give him what he already has? This amendment guarantees that the taxpayers of Missouri will pay for this research. Section 5 says "ensure that no governmental body ... arbitrarily restricts funds designated for purposes other than stem cell research ..." Yes, they have to make a yearly report to the Secretary of State, but the report does not have to include any information, including any patents they may make. (See Section 4 and Definition 10.) Donate eggs what a noble thought we think, freely give, but this is not a trip to the bloodmobile. (See subsection 4 under section 2) To donate human eggs requires hormone stimulation of young women, general anesthesia, and surgery to harvest the eggs. This process is used in "in vitro fertilization" and IVF costs from $7,000,410,000 each. The result is 1,015 eggs. The trick word in this subsection 4 is "valuable consideration," but it is defined as definition 17 "... does not include reimbursement for reasonable costs incurred ... including lost wages of the donor." So this is saying young women can get money for their "donation." Just in case they do run into health problems afterwards, subsection 5 under section 2 lets the researcher off the hook. "Human ... eggs obtained for … research ... must have been donated with voluntary and informed consent, documented in writing." Yes, young women will "donate," but at what cost? Why is this happening in Missouri? Is it because we are kind and compassionate? Or because we are gullible and naive? If this amendment fails, nothing will be changed. Dr. Stowers and his Institute will still be able to do their research and profit from it. Keep in mind that the use of adult stem cells has resulted in helping cure several diseases, while embryonic stem cell research has a dismal record of zero cures so far. For some reason "cloners" are not satisfied with being able to freely research, they want us to pay for it and they want a consitutional amendment to protect their "right" so no law in the state on any level can "prevent, restrict, obstruct or discourage any stem cell research," or even "create disincentives for any person to engage in ... such research." (See section 7) Adult stem cells means more than "from adults." Babies' cord blood and even aborted fetuses have "adult" stem cells.
This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. This is a taxpayer issue. This is a Christian issue. Please read the proposed amendment if you think I must have misunderstood. Why has Dr. Stowers put millions of dollars into this campaign? Because this amendment would give his institution and any others that will move here a blank check signed by the taxpayers of Missouri and constitutional protection for this kind of private enterprise and any patents that result. What audacity!! Good people of Vernon County, read the amendment for yourself before Nov. 7.
Valo L. Jones
Enough is enough! Vote "no" on Amendment 3!
Amendment 3 is not about smoking or the dangers of tobacco. Amendment 3 is about the greed of "Corporate Health Care" -- hospitals, HMOs and drug companies -- and the government wasting even more of our tax dollars. All you have to do is follow the money.
Amendment 3's outrageous 470 percnet tax increase is proportionally the single largest tax increase in Missouri's 185 year history and will put Missouri retailers at a competitive disadvantage with six of our eight border states. That's devastating news for Missouri's economy, small businesses, consumers and local and state tax revenue.
Since 2000, Missouri has wasted almost $1 billion in tobacco revenue that should have been spent on tobacco diseases and health care. In addition, there is projected to be a $600 million to $1 billion state budget surplus next fiscal year. Why should we trust politicians with even more of our tax dollars? Tobacco is a smoke-screen. More than four out of five dollars -- 82.5 percent -- of the tobacco tax increase are not required to be spent on tobacco diseases or tobacco cessation programs and instead will fatten the wallets of the greedy proponents who are spending millions to finance this oppressive tax increase. Shouldn't a so-called "sin tax" actually be used to cure the "sin?" Non-smokers and the middle class will end up paying the tab -- just like always.
If mandated by an activist judge, Amendment 3 may end-up costing all taxpayers up to $1.7 billion per year in massive new tax increases. Still think Amendment 3 is a tax on smokers only? Placing this 3,300 word tax increase directly into the Missouri Constitution abuses and dishonors the supreme law of the land and can never be modified by the Missouri Legislature.
We should never allow our Constitution to be used as a slush fund for special interest groups.
Amendment 3 is being opposed by a diverse and unprecedented coalition of elected officials and groups you trust including: Missouri Right to Life; Missouri Farm Bureau; Governor Matt Blunt, Attorney General Jay Nixon, House Speaker Rod Jetton, Senate President Pro Tem Mike Gibbons and House Minority Leader Jeff Harris; advocates for the poor and working families including Missourians for Tax Justice; taxpayer groups including Americans for Prosperity; and the Springfield News-Leader and the Columbia Daily Tribune.
It sends a uniquely strong message when these diverse groups and individuals are unanimously opposed to an issue.
Politicians love to throw money at a problem instead of fixing the problem. Amendment 3 does nothing to fix Missouri's broken healthcare system -- it merely papers over the many problems with huge amounts of taxpayer dollars.
Missouri's statewide healthcare crisis deserves a statewide solution and not the taxing of a targeted minority population by a well-funded special interest group.
A recent AP story concludes that the percentage of Missouri teens who smoke has decreased by almost 50 percent in the last decade and Missouri's teen smoking rate is now below the national average.
Amendment 3 proponents are just plain wrong when they say that Missouri is lagging behind other states, is not doing enough, and that we need to throw more tax dollars at this problem.
Take control of your government. You know how when you read the newspaper, watch the TV news or discuss politics with your friends and family and you wonder: "How did our government ever get so messed-up?" "Is our world getting crazier by the day?" Well, this is your chance to get your government back under control.
Vote "NO" on Amendment 3's outrageous 470 percent tax increase and stand up to the special interest groups that want to use our sacred Constitution as their very own personal ATM.
Ronald J. Leone
Executive Director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, www.mpca.org