Supporting People’s Power to Pass Laws through Initiative Petitions
At least 14 bills filed in the Missouri House seek to make it harder for Missourians of any political persuasion to circumvent partisan divides in Jefferson City and directly get things done for the people.
Among the most onerous is HJR 79, which would dramatically raise the number of verified voter signatures needed for state constitutional amendments to qualify for the ballot from 8 percent in six of the state’s eight congressional districts to 10 percent statewide. It would also increase the threshold for initiative petition passage from a simple majority to 67 percent. A public hearing on the legislation is scheduled for noon on Wednesday, Jan. 12 before the Committee on Elections and Elected Officials.
“Missouri’s initiative petition system has been in place for 115 years,” Marilyn McLeod, president of the League of Women Voters of Missouri, says in prepared testimony. “This valuable and trusted process is not easy, and the citizens of Missouri have not abused it. Just 28 of 69 citizen-initiated Constitutional amendments have ever been approved.”
McLeod said two-thirds approval would not only be the highest in the country, it would be virtually impossible to reach. A large majority of voters recently approved a higher minimum wage, Medicaid Expansion and medical marijuana, but none passed with more than 65 percent of the vote.
If approved by lawmakers, the proposed changes would still require voter approval in the November general election, or during a special election that would cost the state an estimated $7 million. The measure is sponsored by Rep. Mike Henderson (R-Bonne Terre).