Proposed tobacco tax may end up on Missouri ballot despite court ruling

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander vowed Monday that so long as a proposed tobacco tax increase has the required verified signatures, his office will certify it for the ballot in November, despite a court ruling that opponents say should disqualify the initiative.

The nonprofit organization Raise Your Hand for Kids proposed a 60-cent tobacco tax hike to generate more money for early childhood education programs. Springfield businessman Jim Boeving sued, alleging that the ballot summary on the petitions didn’t explain how the fees could rise each year because of inflation.

An appeals court later ruled that the organization’s summary was insufficient. Opponents point to a state law that requires petitioners to attach ballot summary language to their signature pages, arguing that since the court’s rewrite doesn’t match up with what was presented to those who signed the petition, the 300,000 signatures gathered should be voided.

Still, the fight likely isn’t over yet. Kander said the effort will likely continue to be debated in court in the coming weeks and months, instructing local election authorities to continue verifying the petition signatures in the meantime.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch


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