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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Voters approve 5 statewide issues

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The state will no longer require gamblers to limit their losses at casinos, ending a rule that did not exist in any other state in the country.

Removal of the loss limits and changes in other casino regulations was forecast to bring in millions more in revenue for the state's schools and local services -- all without raising taxes.

Proposition A, called the ''Schools First Elementary and Secondary Education Funding Initiative,'' was one of five statewide issues approved by voters Tuesday.

It repeals the $500 loss limit at casinos, caps the licensing of new casinos and raises taxes on existing ones. Supporters said it also would allow Missouri casinos to compete more effectively with casinos in neighboring states that do not have loss limits.

With 98 percent of the precincts reporting, Proposition A won approval of 56 percent of voters.

The gambling initiative -- funded almost entirely by the owners of Missouri's casinos -- was forecast to raise more than $100 million a year in additional revenue for schools and local services.

''The approval of Proposition A, the Schools First Initiative, by Missouri voters is a win for our state's economy, our schools and common sense,'' said Scott Charton, spokesman for the YES on A Coalition, which spearheaded the effort.

''It means Missouri can finally compete for casino visitors and revenues on a level playing field with neighboring states, and it means there will be more revenues to help fund elementary and secondary education from the gaming tax paid by casinos.''

Currently, Missouri requires gamblers who lose up to $500 in two hours to wait until the next two-hour ''excursion'' before buying up to $500 more in chips or tokens.

Supporters of Proposition A argued that Missouri lost gambling revenue to neighboring states that don't have the loss limits. And they noted that the initiative would raise needed revenue for the state's schools without raising anyone's taxes.

Opponents contended the measure was designed to help the state's current casinos increase profits and reduce competition from new casinos. They also said the loss limits reduced problem gambling and gambling-related crime.

A spokesman for Casino Watch, the main opponent of the measure, did not return a phone call from The Associated Press Tuesday night.

Voters also agreed to amend the Missouri Constitution to make English the state's official language for all government proceedings. Amendment 1 prohibits using any other language in all government meetings, as well as on ballots, driver's license exams and other documents.

Another amendment that changes part of the constitution that permits the awarding of state grants and loans for local storm water projects also passed.

And two other initiatives -- one requiring the state's three electric utilities to increase the use of renewable sources and another that created a state council to oversee the work of some home health care workers -- also passed.

Proposition C, the Missouri Clean Energy Initiative, will require the state's three electric utilities to get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2021. It would require that any rate increase not exceed 1 percent. With 98 percent of the votes in, the proposition had 62 percent of the vote.

Also approved by voters was Proposition B, which will create a Quality Home Health Care Council to oversee and recommend changes in working conditions for home health care workers. It also will allow the workers to unionize, but ban them from striking. It had 75 percent of the vote with 98 percent of the precincts reporting.