- Associated Press - Sunday, May 8, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Proponents of initiatives aimed at sales taxes, cigarette taxes and medical marijuana submitted petitions Sunday in hopes of getting their proposals on the November ballot in Missouri.

The petitions submitted Sunday involved two proposed constitutional amendments, one that would prohibit state and local governments from charging sales tax on any services that weren’t already taxed as of 2015, and another that would allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. A third ballot initiative would phase in a 23-cent-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax from 2017 to 2021. The deadline for submitting the petitions was Sunday evening.

The state has received a total of five 2016 initiative petitions, including the three that were submitted Sunday before the 5 p.m. deadline, the secretary of state’s office said. The office has until Aug. 9 to certify whether the initiatives got enough valid signatures of registered voters to qualify for the ballot.

Two other initiative petitions submitted earlier would raise Missouri’s cigarette taxes by phasing in a 60-cent-per-pack increase and re-impose limits on money flowing to political candidates and committees.

The initiative submitted Sunday to prohibit sales taxes on services that weren’t already taxed as of 2015 is a pre-emptive measure aimed at blocking the potential for future taxes on such things as real estate agent services. Funding for the initiative came from the Missouri Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors.

“The amendment will prohibit the state from putting new sales taxes on services that Missourians use every day,” Scott Charton, spokesman for Missourians for Fair Taxation, which sponsors the proposal, said in a prepared statement.

The second constitutional amendment initiative submitted Sunday would allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes and impose a 4 percent sales tax on medical marijuana sales. Under the proposal, the state would set up a licensing program with fees for marijuana growers, manufacturers and retailers and would also allow people to grow up to six plants for their personal medicinal use. Proceeds that don’t go toward administrative expenses would go to the Missouri Veterans Commission for veterans’ health care and nursing home services.

The sponsor, New Approach Missouri, received money from various organizations, including the New York-based advocacy group Drug Policy Action, which previously supported medical marijuana campaigns in Florida and Oregon.

“It is so gratifying to know that this effort will provide relief to thousands of Missourians suffering from cancer, epilepsy and other debilitating illness, including our beloved veterans,” New Approach board member, Tom Mundell, said in a prepared statement Sunday.

The third ballot initiative submitted Sunday would phase in a 23-cent-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax from 2017 to 2021, with the money to go toward transportation infrastructure projects. The increase would be in addition to the current 17-cents-per-pack tax and seeks to raise the tax on other tobacco products by 5 percent in 2017. Money would go toward transportation infrastructure projects.

The initiative is being financed though the political action committee for the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association and has received hundreds of thousands of dollars each from three tobacco companies.

“This fair and reasonable tax increase in our common-sense proposal will give Missouri voters an opportunity to provide new funding to help fix Missouri’s unsafe roads and bridges,” Ronald Leone, executive director of the MPCA, said in a statement.

Constitutional amendments require signatures equaling 8 percent of the number of people who voted in the 2012 gubernatorial election in six of the state’s eight congressional districts. Statutory changes require signatures equaling 5 percent of number of people who voted in the 2012 gubernatorial election in six of the state’s eight congressional districts.

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