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Missouri Senate split between parties

November 08, 2000

By: Katy Scott

State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Along with changing the make-up of the state Legislature, Missourians decided two highly disputed statewide ballot issues Tuesday, voting no on both the billboard proposition, A, and on the campaign finance proposition, B.

The Democratic party in Missouri, which previously held a majority in the state Senate, lost two seats on election Tuesday, leading to a Senate composed of 17 Democrats and 17 Republicans.

Mike Gibbons, a newly elected Republican state senator from Kirkwood, said the tie does a lot for the GOP in Missouri.

"After 46 years of being in the minority, I'd like a clear majority, but I'll take a tie," he said.

But the Democratic party didn't get all bad news regarding the Senate on Tuesday. Joe Maxwell, a Democrat, won the lieutenent governor seat and, as such, will cast tie-breaking votes if necessary.

And although the GOP picked up a seat in the Missouri house of representatives, the Democrats lost no seats and retained control of the house with a slim 86-77 lead.

Also, in one of the most highly discussed statewide ballot issues in years, Proposition A, which would have placed a limit on the number of billboards in Missouri, was rejected Tuesday.

Citizens Against Tax Waste has spent several months and thousands of dollars trying to get the proposition voted down.

Bill May, campaign manager of the organization, said he had faith before the election that Missouri voters would "do the right thing."

"Proposition A would be extremely detrimental to Missouri's small businesses and tourism industry," he said.

On the other side of the issue, Save Our Scenery has spent the past few months pushing for the passage of proposition A.

Before the election, the organization was confident that the proposition would pass but as the night wore on, it became clear that the issue would lose by a slim margin.

Julius Zomper, the campaign manager for the group, said Saving Our Scenery was prepared to deal with a defeat.

"We're going to cry and play lots of Patsy Cline songs," he said.

But, he said, after the initial shock, the group's board will meet to decide the next step, which could include rewriting the proposition and bringing it up for a vote again.

Missourians also rejected proposition B, which would have used taxes to support candidates who abide by certain campaign finance rules.

Missouri Voters for Fair Elections said that although it thinks the proposal is necessary, the organization knew getting the issue passed would be hard.

"Anytime you're making change, it's difficult," said Doug Gray, the campaign manager of the group.

Although the organization spent several months and thousands of dollars trying to get the proposition passed, some third parties spoke out against the issue.

Jeanne Bojarski, the communications director for the Missouri Libertarian party, said because of all the qualification necessary for funding, the proposition, which she called "welfare for candidates," would hurt many third party candidates.

Gray said Missouri Voters for Fair Elections will probably work to tweek the proposition and get it back before voters.

Also decided Tuesday were three proposed constitutional amendments. Voters approved amendment No. 1, which would create a reserve budget fund to be used in an emergency situation. They rejected amendment No. 2, which would have reduced the period of time a person would have to be involved in an organization before he or she could call bingo games from two years to six months. Also rejected was amendment No. 3, which would have given the Legislature more discresion in deciding elected officials' salaries.