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Reforming Missouri’s initiative petition process

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In recent election cycles, Missouri’s initiative petition filing process has become a free-for-all.

While only a fraction of petitions actually made it onto the ballot, some of those that did created concerns due to the complexity of the issues and confusingly-worded ballot language. Poorly written petitions often create years of tax dollar funded litigation if they become law.

Another concern is the sheer number of initiative petitions filed each election cycle that the Secretary of State’s office must process, which has skyrocketed in recent years from a few dozen to hundreds.

The Missouri General Assembly is working to address the root of this problem by considering changes to initiative petition guidelines. Several different ideas of how to improve the process are under consideration.

“It shouldn’t matter where you stand on the issues — every Missourian should be deeply concerned that our current process gives anyone who can afford to pay signature gatherers and buy slick election marketing the power to rewrite the rules that govern our state,” said Missouri Chamber President and CEO Daniel P. Mehan.

The Missouri Chamber will continue to push for passage of modest initiative petition system reforms in 2021 — specifically HJR 5 and HJR 14, both of which increase the threshold for amending the constitution from a simple majority to 60 percent of the vote. This legislation is sponsored by Rep. Adam Schnelting and Rep. Ed Lewis, respectively.

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