Editorial Roundup: Missouri

Kansas City Star. November 9, 2022.

Editorial: Divided Missouri, Kansas election shows one way voters are united: They want compromise

Republicans inched closer to gaining control of the U.S. House Wednesday morning, while party control of the Senate remained undecided. It may be some days before the full outcome is known.

To the nation’s great relief, however, the predicted “red wave” of landslide Republican victories turned out to be more of a ripple than a tsunami. Our government remains divided, because voters remain deeply divided.

Kansas — which shocked the nation by upholding abortion rights in August — once again showed the limits of GOP ambition. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly appeared to defeat Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, the Republican, in unofficial returns. The race remains officially too close to call, with Kelly telling supporters that it’s too soon to celebrate.

There’s more. Democratic incumbent Rep. Sharice Davids easily defeated Republican Amanda Adkins in the race for the 3rd District. These outcomes were no accident.

Kansans appeared tired of the culture shenanigans of candidates like Schmidt. He offered no vision for the state. Kansas voters seem more interested in problem-solvers than would-be conservative TV stars.

We hope that message is clear in Topeka next year. Republican lawmakers gerrymandered Davids’ seat and still lost. They foolishly forced a primary vote on abortion rights, prompting thousands of younger voters to register and cast ballots.

Sadly, Kris Kobach narrowly won the attorney general’s race. He’ll cause no end of mischief. At the same time, all six Kansas Supreme Court justices facing retention votes won. That’s good news for Kansas.

Yes, incumbent Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican, easily won reelection. We endorsed his candidacy because we believed sane voices in Congress should be encouraged. We now expect him to fulfill that commitment.

In Missouri, Sen.-elect Eric Schmitt appears unreachable by any appeals to logic or patriotism.

Schmitt’s victory was not a surprise. His candidacy was a deep disappointment because it further divided the state. Schmitt largely ignored Kansas City and St. Louis, a practice we hope he will not continue in Washington.

Missourians endorsed recreational marijuana. They also took the frustrating step of enabling the state legislature to set minimum funding for the Kansas City Police Department. It’s deeply regrettable colonialism, and should be challenged in court.

Kansas City overwhelmingly approved borrowing for the housing trust fund, Bartle Hall, and parks activities. It was the right thing to do.

The national picture remains cloudy. Voters appear to have endorsed mixed government, likely gridlock, and a continuation of the partisan sniping that sadly defines much of our national politics.

With a Democrat Joe Biden in the White House and Republicans potentially in charge of the House, prospects for significant progress on issues such as energy costs, inflation and aid to Ukraine are dim. The nation is looking at two years of subpoenas and investigations instead.

We could be wrong. We hope we’re wrong. It’s now up to the Republican Party to prove us so, by turning aside the most strident voices to focus on real concerns.

Plans to hold the debt ceiling hostage to extremists must be discarded. We should now expect a Republican House majority to provide real details of a plan to reduce the nation’s inflation-riddled economy. We should see those plans early in 2023, with a goal of falling prices within the year. If not, Republicans will have failed.

Congress should not reduce inflation by eliminating jobs. The classic cure for inflation is higher joblessness. That’s unacceptable.

Let’s be clear: Democrats are hardly blameless for the inflationary economy that led to some stinging defeats at the polls. Yes, it’s important to focus on climate change, women’s bodily autonomy, student debt and other issues. When moms and dads struggle to buy groceries or pay the rent, though, it’s hard for them to hear a reasonable debate on those concerns.

Democrats have acted for a year as if expensive gas and eggs are a minor quibble. Some prices have fallen — gas in Kansas City has been closer to $3 a gallon for months — and it’s also true that inflation is a worldwide phenomenon tied to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, hardly something unique to America. But Democrats have yet to treat the rising prices as seriously as they should have. We urge them to work with Republicans on a reasonable plan to address high prices, particularly on food and fuel.

We think voters want progress and compromise. Now that the campaign ads have mercifully left the screen, we implore office-holders of good faith to work harder to solve problems, instead of assembling fodder for the next campaign.

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St. Joseph News-Press. November 11, 2022.

Editorial: A tale of two cannabis states

Missouri and Maryland passed marijuana legalization in Tuesday’s election, joining more than 20 other states that authorize recreational cannabis.

Both states will allow adults aged 21 or older to buy and consume marijuana, but the two measures contain some significant differences.

Maryland allows possession of 1.5 ounces of marijuana, but Missouri will authorize double that amount at 3 ounces. More marijuana means more opportunities to divert it to underage users.

Maryland allows two plants for “home grow,” compared to Missouri, which will permit six flowering plants, six nonflowering plants and six clone plants at home. Again, more chances to divert and resell in other states or to younger users.

Recreational marijuana will be taxed at 6% in Missouri, which sounds like a lot until you realize it’s 15% in Colorado, around 16% in Illinois, 37% in Washington state and as much as 38% when all taxes and fees are added up in tax-happy California.

Get this: Maryland will allow its legislature to decide on the taxation and other regulation of cannabis following voter approval on Tuesday.

It would be naïve to believe that marijuana legalization wasn’t coming as the public became more tolerant and questioned the fairness of a hard line on cannabis enforcement. But the way that Maryland handled it, with that state’s legislature taking an active hand in putting an initiative on the ballot and then regulating and taxing it on the back end, allows for a final result that’s more in the public interest than what Missouri has today.

That’s because the legislature in Missouri abdicated its responsibility on this matter, resulting in a constitutional amendment that was developed and funded by the marijuana industry and for the marijuana industry. Because it’s a constitutional amendment, it can’t be tweaked easily if problems arise with how the sudden plunge into legalization affects everything from drug treatment courts to usage in public spaces.

It’s sort of like letting Anheuser-Busch write your drunken-driving laws. Missouri might not regret legalization but there will be some second thoughts in going about it this way.

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