Northwest Missouri Leaders Endorse Amendment 1

Originally posted on August 27 by the Maryville Daily Forum:

Northwest Missouri Leaders Endorse Amendment 1

MARYVILLE, Mo. — At a noon press conference held Monday several members of northwest Missouri communities endorsed Amendment 1 or “Clean Missouri,” that will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

Held at the Nodaway County Courthouse, Missouri Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, along with Cheryl Barnes with the League of Women Voters of Missouri; and Rev. Scott Moon of the First United Methodist Church in Maryville spoke in support of the ballot issue.

The bipartisan effort intends to fight against political corruption by lowering campaign contribution limits; eliminating almost all lobbyist gifts; requiring state government be more transparent; stopping the revolving door of legislators becoming lobbyists; and requiring fair state legislative maps.

Sen. Schaaf explained that he’s been in the legislature for 16 years, and that the biggest problem he’s seen has been the legislature doing the wishes of special interests and of the lobbyists instead of those of the people and to their detriment.

“I’ve watched as we’ve taken up issues designed to help one special interest over another, perhaps to make more money in the market place, to advantage one group over another and it’s taken up valuable time that we could be spending working on issues that are important to all of the people, so that’s why I’m here supporting Clean Missouri,” he said.

He gave examples of some of the bills taken up on behalf of special interest groups: a bill to help big alcohol fight their competitors, big tobacco over little tobacco, or who gets to hang equipment from telephone poles.

“I didn’t go to Jeff City to deal with those kinds of issues that nobody knows anything about,” Schaaf said.

He spoke in favor of the $5 limit on lobbyist gifts and redistricting so incumbent politicians are no longer protected by gerrymandered districts.

“(Ronald Reagan) said on the anniversary of D-Day that ‘Democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man,’” Schaaf said. “There are a lot people who have died for our democracy, but at this point in time, the affect of big money is corrupting it. We need to clean it up and protect the democracy that so many people have died for.”

After the press conference, Schaaf explained slightly more in depth how the redistricting will help with regard to those incumbents.

“Right now, the districts are drawn kind of in the back room under the secrecy of darkness and nobody knows exactly what process is used and who made the decision and why,” he said. “Clean Missouri causes there to be a state demographer that is nonpartisan and the mechanism of choosing that state demographer is as fair as it can be.”

He said the maps have to be drawn in such a way to minimize the difference in wasted votes between the two political parties.

He explained that wasted votes are those that are made for the non-winners, but also those that are made in excess of the number of votes needed for the candidate to win. He explained that “packing and cracking” is used to pack voters into a district, so that there’s more of their votes wasted or “cracking” splitting them up so none of that party get elected at all so all of the votes are wasted.

“So all of that is created to waste votes among the opposing party,” Schaaf said. “But we could draw maps scientifically, using criteria that are outlined in Clean Missouri such that the difference between the parties and their wasted votes is as small as possible. It’s a mathematical mechanism and it’s been supported by people like John Danforth, Gov. Kucinich, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The mechanism will also be transparent so everyone can see how the lines are drawn.”

He went on to explain a citizen’s commission will look over the entire process.

“It’s going to be a giant improvement over what we have now,” Schaaf said. “These kinds of things show that the process right now isn’t very good, it needs to be fixed and I think clean Missouri is a good start.”

From the local perspective, The Rev. Scott Moon with First United Methodist Church in Maryville explained that he endorses the amendment because his denomination has taken a proactive stance on campaign finance reform and for the proper choosing of representatives and setting of districts.

“We come to this position, really, from an ethical and moral perspective as well as a political perspective,” he said. He went on to explain that as an individual who as a member of the United Methodist clergy is duty-bound to help those within his congregation, and also generally within the public to encourage persons to look seriously at the ways in which campaign finance reform, in particular, can be addressed.

“Very seldom do you have an opportunity such as we have this coming November to actually vote on an amendment that can make a difference,” Moon said. “I’ve looked at this myself. I personally can commend this for ratification and will be voting for this when it comes in the fall.”

He encouraged others to look at the initiative and apply their consciences before the upcoming general election.

Cheryl Barnes with the League of Women Voters of Missouri said she and her organization believe that lobbyists, big donors and small groups of political insiders have too much control and influence over Missouri state government, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

“(Amendment 1) is an opportunity to make our state government more transparent and limit the power of lobbyists and big money donors on our legislature.”

Rick Oswald, a fifth-generation northwest Missouri farmer and former president of the Missouri Farmers Union spoke on behalf of the ballot initiative.

“It’s what we need in rural Missouri,” Oswald said. “It’s what’s going to give us back local control. It’s going to put us back in control of our local communities and it’s going to make it easier for us to elect people who reflect the values of those communities instead of the values of those big money donors in St. Louis.”

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The Washington Missourian: “If you really want to limit the money-influence environment in state government, you will vote for Amendment 1.”

Originally posted on August 25 by the Washington Missourian:

The Little People Against the Giants

It may not be exactly a David-Goliath battle, but proponents of Amendment 1, which will be on the November ballot, are the little people up against wealthy lobbyists and many legislators in pushing for major reforms in state government.

The little people have an organization called Clean Missouri, which has some funding, but nothing compared to what big money and powerful lobbyists and legislators can muster.

The little people collected the needed signatures to put the issue of ethics reforms on the ballot. It took over a year, but they had support from all over Missouri.

One of the proponents is Patricia Schuba, from Labadie, who has been a voice for reforms, from clean air to clean government, for a long time. She is co-owner of a farm, well-educated and an activist who is willing to do battle with powerful forces. When Clean Missouri kicked off its campaign for Amendment 1 in Washington Wednesday, she said this:

“When we rein in lobbyists and get big money out of state politics, we force candidates to win our votes, debate the issues, and represent us — their constituents. Too often, the only people running for political offices are the rich or well-connected, or people who cave to special interests once they are elected. This amendment levels the playing field, making it easier for citizens to run for office. That is good for Missouri’s democracy, and we need more regular people, like us, looking out for us.”

Angie Dunlap, board member of the League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis, added: “Lobbyists, big donors and small groups of political insiders have too much control and influence over Missouri state government. Amendment 1 is an opportunity to make our state government more transparent and limit the power of lobbyists and big money donors in our Legislature.”

Amendment 1 would eliminate nearly all gifts to members of the General Assembly; require that legislative records be open to the public; establish a two-year waiting period for General Assembly members to become lobbyists after leaving office; lower campaign gifts to legislative candidates; and ensure that neither party is given an unfair advantage when new district maps are drawn after census figures are known.

Politicians, that is many of them, are attacking Amendment 1 because of  the redistricting requirement. They don’t want to give added public attention to gifts to members of the General Assembly, campaign contributions, the influence lobbyists have due to the money-force they represent and the current secrecy in government.

In other words, most officeholders who would be affected don’t want matters to change. They like the status quo. They eat up the perks given. Lobbyists, that is many of them, like things the way they are.

Money corrupts. It’s present in state government. Clean Missouri, if passed, would be a major ethics reform measure. If you really want to limit the money-influence environment in state government, you will vote for Amendment 1.

 

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Kansas City Star endorses Amendment 1


Citizens should clean up Missouri government, tighten ethics rules

What do Missouri lawmakers have in common with the Kansas City Royals?

Both groups have been doing a lot of whiff-whiff-whiffing lately — the Royals when it comes to hitting a baseball, lawmakers when it comes to beefing up their loosey-goosey ethics rules.

Now, citizens are stepping up, attempting to do what legislators won’t. It’s a welcome development.

Some 500 petitioners are roaming the state most weekends collecting signatures for something called “The Clean Missouri Initiative” that would go on the November 2018 ballot. This is the latest bid by regular folks to take control of their government back from the big corporations and the special interests.

The initiative would enshrine in the Missouri Constitution a series of proposals that lawmakers have kicked around for years. In one fell swoop, the state would:

▪  Require that lawmakers wait two years before they could turn around and lobby their colleagues.

▪  Eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts. No freebie could be valued at more than $5. In other words, lobbyists could buy legislators a cup of coffee — and no more.

▪  Eliminate partisan gerrymandering when it comes to redrawing lines for legislative districts. The focus would be to return competitiveness to races that too often have become one-sided incumbent coronations.

▪ Set campaign donation limits at $2,500 for the state Senate and $2,000 for the House.

▪  Open legislative records to public review.

All these proposals have merit and would go a long way toward cleaning up Jefferson City. As an added bonus, members of both parties embrace this proposal. Unlike past initiative efforts that have fallen flat, this one has financial support thanks to a $250,000 donation from the Missouri National Education Association.

Once upon a time in 2017, long-awaited ethics reform appeared to be a promising prospect. Within minutes of taking the oath of office in January, Gov. Eric Greitens signed an executive order banning every employee in his administration from accepting lobbyist gifts. He had spent much of 2016 campaigning on a pledge to clean up government.

But hopes for real reform dissolved amid Greitens’ embrace of dark money and his refusal to disclose how much lobbyists and corporations paid to underwrite his inaugural ball.

Then, in the House, the first bill heard this year was a proposal to ban lobbyist gifts. The House approved the measure in just eight days, which amounts to blinding speed for a legislative body.

Then it hit the state Senate and went kaput.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, a St. Joseph Republican, was incredulous, as were others. He said ethics and campaign reform rank as the “number one issue” for Missourians.

So much promise. So much disappointment in a pattern that has repeated itself over and over again in recent years.

So let’s posit this: If anything is going to get done when it comes to cleaning up state government, the responsibility will fall to the people themselves. Key leaders in the General Assembly seem determined to keep the steady stream of free tickets, free meals and free booze flowing.

Lawmakers have practically invited citizens to take matters into their own hands. And that’s exactly what’s happening.

Missourians have voiced overwhelming support for clean-government initiatives over the years. Get this on the ballot, and the days of whiffing on ethics will finally end.

Read the original at http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/editorials/article170869577.html

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The League of Women Voters Endorses Amendment 1

Originally aired August 14 on KY3 in Springfield, MO:

League of Women Voters puts support behind legislative reform ballot issue

Missouri voters will be deciding a number of issues on the ballot this November including Amendment 1, a sweeping legislative reform measure that on Tuesday got the backing of the League of Women Voters.

The goal of Amendment 1 is to increase fairness, integrity, accountability, and transparency in the Missouri’s General Assembly.

And it has bi-partisan support, including that of the League of Women Voters.

“The league is nonpartisan as you may know,” announced Ann Elwell, the League’s Communication Chair at the start of their press conference in the rotunda of the Greene County courthouse. “We never support or endorse candidates or parties.”

Yet on this issue the League is throwing its statewide support in favor of Amendment 1 because “lobbyists, big donors, and small groups of insiders continue to have too much control and influence in state government,” said Joan Gentry, a League Board Member.

Two of the five Amendment 1 initiatives relate to lobbyists. One eliminates any gifts from lobbyists to legislators over five dollars. And the other prohibits legislators from becoming lobbyists until two years after their term expires.

“Since 2014 politicians in the Missouri General Assembly have taken over $12 million in gifts from lobbyists who have business before the legislature,” explained Kelly Wood, a past League President. “These gifts include liquor, sports events, concerts, international travel and expensive dinners.”

Amendment 1 would also limit campaign contributions for state legislative candidates, require all legislative records to be open to the public and have a nonpartisan expert draw up the district maps so that one political party doesn’t gain an advantage just because of the way the districts are drawn up. The new mapping would be done with statistical analysis.

“There will be provisions to make sure that the result is statistically correct,” Elwell said. ” And the party affiliation will not be a part of that.”

And at a time when our political world is more divisive than ever, the league hopes Amendment 1 will abate some of that cynicism.

“We feel like this amendment really cleans up politics in Missouri,” Wood said. “Money is power, and we are really more concerned with the voters having the power to decide the issues rather than the people behind closed doors.”

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Clean Missouri is on the ballot! Vote YES on Amendment 1 to clean up Missouri politics!

The Missouri Secretary of State’s office certified Amendment 1 to appear on the November 6 ballot. That means voters will have a chance this November to increase integrity, transparency, and accountability in state government.

Amendment 1 will:

  • eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly
  • require that legislative records be open to the public
  • lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates
  • require politicians to wait two years if they want to become lobbyists
  • ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census, by adding criteria for fairness and competitiveness of the overall map, which will be reviewed by a citizen commission and keep compact and contiguous districts

“Amendment 1 is a chance to increase fairness, integrity and transparency in government,” said Kathleen Boswell, President of the League of Women Voters of Missouri. “Year after year, politicians are re-elected with big money, in districts drawn by politicians and party insiders. Amendment 1 limits the influence of special interests in the legislature and ensures no party is given an unfair advantage when redistricting occurs after the next census. Amendment 1 establishes clear, transparent criteria to ensure fair and competitive maps, which are reviewed by a citizens’ commission.”

“Amendment 1 will ensure fair and competitive elections so elected officials cannot take their voters for granted and must earn their support,” said Republican former U.S. Senator John Danforth. “I’m proud to be part of a bipartisan group of reformers to ensure voters come first — and that Missourians’ voices will always be heard in our democracy. Amendment 1 will increase integrity, transparency, and accountability in state government.”

“Lobbyists and a small group of big donors have too much control over Missouri state government,” said Pastor Cassandra Gould, Executive Director of Missouri Faith Voices. “But it doesn’t have to be this way. Amendment 1 will make our state government more transparent, limit the power of big money in our legislature, and make sure we can hold legislators accountable when they fail to act in the public’s interest.”

A growing number of Republicans, Democrats, independents, and editorial boards across the state have publicly endorsed the full package of desperately needed reforms in Amendment 1, including the Washington Missourian, Kansas City Star, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Columbia Daily Tribune.

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Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri Endorses Clean Missouri

Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri held an endorsement press conference for Clean Missouri in Springfield. Speakers included Dr. Robert Perry of the Greene County Baptist Association, Lee Ann Worman of the League of Women Voters, Barbara Burgess, a payday loan survivor, and Judith Peavey of Temple Israel Sisterhood. All spoke to the need to take power away from special interests and give it to the people of Missouri. Check out a video and an excerpt of the coverage from KOLR 10’s Brea Douglas:

Nearly 350,0000 Missourians are pushing for an increase in government integrity. That’s how many signatures were collected for the Clean Missouri Initiative to be on the November ballot.

Supporters say the initiative will ensure the best interest of Missourians are put before big donors, lobbyists and partisan politics. …

The Clean Missouri initiative will lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates, eliminate lobbyist gifts in the general assembly, require politicians to wait two years before becoming lobbyists, and require that legislative records be open to the public. …

The message shared on Tuesday was if Clean Missouri passes, lawmakers won’t be influenced by what’s in the best interest of their donors rather they will be forced to work in the best interest of the people.

“We need laws that reflect the will of the people here in Missouri and overwhelmingly people in Missouri want to see predatory lending reform. Why have we not gotten the predatory lending reform that we need? It’s the influence of big money, big money speaks louder than people,” says [Clean Missouri] advocate, Susan Schmalzbauer.

 

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Missouri NAACP President Nimrod Chapel: “Time after time, big donors get their way, as politicians put their wish lists ahead of the needs of their constituents.”

Nimrod “Rod” Chapel, Jr., President of the Missouri State Conference of the NAACP, wrote an op-ed supporting Clean Missouri in the Springfield News-Leader titled “Liberty and Justice for the Wealthy and Well-Connected.” An excerpt:

How will you feel when the legislature’s wasteful political favors force them to raise taxes on working families or cut funding to vital services?

This is what happens when big money drowns out the people back home.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

That’s why I’m proud to support the Clean Missouri ballot initiative as a big step forward for Missouri to restore balance, fairness, and integrity to state government.

Here are the facts about Clean Missouri:
• Eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts by banning any gift worth more than $5
• Lower contribution limits to state legislative candidates to ensure our legislature is not for sale to big money donors
• Require legislators wait 2 years to become lobbyists so they focus on public service, not doing the bidding of big companies
• Require legislative records be open to the public so we know why decisions are made
• Ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census, and protect the political power of minority communities against vote dilution

With the way our current political system is set up, it’s no wonder our legislators sell us out when they get inside the Capitol.

This will take a lot of work and will take years. But together, we will secure the promise we have all pledged to achieve: liberty and justice for all.

Join us in the fight. Our democracy depends on it. To learn more or get involved, visit www.cleanmissouri.org.

 

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Columbia Daily Tribune Endorses Clean Missouri

In the July 20 paper:

Everyone should want fairly drawn legislative districts that aren’t designed to give any political party favor. It’s troubling that any politician would say otherwise, but we’d be naive to assume the parties aren’t constantly jockeying for any advantage they can get, including when it comes to the shape of districts.

However, we will never achieve government that truly works for its constituents until we can eliminate as much partisan gamesmanship as possible. The Clean Missouri plan goes a long way toward doing just that.

 

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Republican support for Clean Missouri ballot measure continues to grow

Supporters include former US Senator John Danforth, Hon. Paul DeGregorio, State Senator Rob Schaaf, and numerous local officials

The Clean Missouri campaign today unveiled its “Republicans for Clean Missouri” coalition. These GOP leaders are joining a broad and growing coalition of Republicans, Democrats, independents, community leaders, and editorial boards across the state, including the Washington Missourian, Kansas City Star, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who have publicly endorsed the full package of desperately-needed reforms in the Clean Missouri initiative.

The legislative reform package will increase ethics, integrity, transparency, and accountability in state government.

The Republicans for Clean Missouri coalition includes:

  • Former U.S. Senator John Danforth
  • Hon. Paul DeGregorio, former Chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and former St. Louis County Election Board Director
  • Trevor Potter, appointed to the Federal Election Commission by President George H.W. Bush; and president of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center
  • State Sen. Rob Schaaf
  • State Rep. Nick Marshall
  • Former State Senator and Current Lee’s Summit Councilmember Bob Johnson
  • Former Sen. Jim Lembke
  • Mayor Clifford Harvey, Weston
  • Dick Bauer, former Assistant Director, St. Louis County Election Board
  • Vern Middleton, Republican business leader
  • John & Gail Russell, Buchanan County GOP former committee members
  • John Saxton, St. Louis GOP Central Committee former member

Some individual endorsers’ statements include:

Former U.S. Sen. John Danforth (R-MO): “Clean Missouri creates an independent process with clear, transparent criteria to ensure no party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census. Clean Missouri will ensure fair and competitive elections so elected officials cannot take their voters for granted and must earn their support. I’m proud to be part of a bipartisan group of reformers to ensure voters come first — and that Missourians’ voices will always be heard in our democracy. Clean Missouri will increase integrity, transparency, and accountability in state government.”

Paul DeGregorio, Former Chairman, U.S. Election Assistance Commission and former St. Louis County Election Board Director: “In recent years Missourians have experienced serious political corruption, much of it due to the influence of big money and the lack of ethics by public officials. There are many steps we need to take to address this serious issue. Clean Missouri is clearly a step in the right direction to put measures in place that will increase transparency and accountability, and give us more competitive elections.”

Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph): “Clean Missouri would eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly, banning any single gift worth more than $5. … [T]here’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that’s why lobbyists give the gifts: they know they’ll get something in return.”

Former Senator and current Councilmember Bob Johnson (R-Lee’s Summit): “The Clean Missouri amendment will make sure legislators focus on important priorities, not what special interests and extremists want. Voters should be able to hold politicians accountable in fair and competitive general elections. That’s why I was an early supporter of the effort, and will be voting yes on November 6.”

Former Sen. Jim Lembke (R-Lemay): “Clean Missouri reforms our broken redistricting process, which is driven by insiders in both parties to protect powerful incumbents. Additionally, many conservative colleagues rightly criticize that the process often falls to judges who draw maps in secret. The Clean Missouri amendment sets out a fair process in which both parties would have a say in picking an independent expert, who then would draw fair, competitive maps according to clear, transparent criteria. Maps would then be reviewed by a citizen commission to ensure neither political party is given an unfair advantage, resulting in a plan that is representative of voters’ preferences. Districts would still be required to be compact and follow existing city or county lines where possible.”

Mayor Clifford Harvey of Weston, MO: “I signed the Clean Missouri Initiative petition, and will be voting for the desperately-needed amendment in November. … I’m a conservative Republican, but good government is something we should all be able to agree on. No matter which party you support, your elected officials should be working for you, for my own constituents, and for everyday Missourians.”

Former St. Louis Republican Central Committee Member John Saxton: “I gathered signatures for Clean Missouri, which would decrease the corrosive influence of special interest lobbyists and money, and make Republican votes like mine matter in otherwise safe Democratic districts. In light of the legislature’s lack of action to pass meaningful ethics laws, this is one major reform that fellow conservatives can join me in supporting.”

National conservative reform expert Trevor Potter, appointed to the Federal Election Commission by President George H.W. Bush, and current president of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center: “Clean Missouri addresses two of the major problems facing our democracy: partisan gerrymandering and the influence of special interests over elected officials… These common sense solutions would help ensure Missouri’s government reflects the will of its citizens.”

The Clean Missouri amendment will increase integrity, transparency and accountability in the Missouri General Assembly.

The Clean Missouri initiative will:

  • eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly
  • lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates
  • require politicians to wait two years before becoming lobbyists
  • require that legislative records be open to the public
  • ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census, by adding criteria for fairness and competitiveness of the overall map, which will be reviewed by a citizen commission and keep compact and contiguous districts

With its broad coalition of support from across the state, the Clean Missouri coalition submitted 346,956 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office on May 3, more than enough to qualify the initiative petition for the November 2018 ballot.

Signatures are now being counted and verified by local election authorities, and then the Clean Missouri amendment will be certified for the November 6, 2018 ballot.

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Report: How Missouri Lawmakers Ignore the Sunshine Law

Clean Missouri has released a new report on the lack of transparency in the General Assembly, by the numbers—with some colorful stories.

Official meetings are supposed to be open to the public, but there have been government meetings held in private country clubs, and journalists have even been denied access to public hearings. The state legislature even keeps their own records secret, yet expects others to follow open government laws.

A recent Missouri court ruling has allowed the legislature to essentially ignore some of the Sunshine Law, despite bipartisan agreement that the Missouri General Assembly needs to be more transparent and accountable.

A few highlights:

  • Both Republican and Democratic State Auditors have called for the legislature to come into compliance with the Sunshine Law.
  • Legislators from both parties have refused to turn over their emails to reporters in Sunshine requests. At the same time, legislators from both parties have demonstrated that compliance is possible.
  • Reporters and citizens have been denied the right to record public hearings.
  • Legislative committees have met in private country clubs and restaurants instead of publicly accessible hearing rooms where proceedings may have been recorded. Beyond what has been disclosed in lobbyist gift records, official House journals show committees have held sham hearings all over Jefferson City at private locations — including 16 at the Jefferson City Country Club and an additional 16 times at other eateries around town. At least seven sham hearings were held in the offices of special interests with business before the state.

The full report is available at http://www.cleanmissouri.org/sunshine.

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