Missouri lawmakers could tighten requirements to get constitutional changes before voters

Missouri lawmakers are considering a measure strongly backed by Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft that would change requirements in the initiative petition process.

Citizens in Missouri have the option of sending issues to a public vote if they get language approved through the secretary of state’s office and collect enough valid public signatures. But Ashcroft said a surge in the number of initiative petition filings over the past several election cycles is harming the integrity of the process.

In 2014, 129 petitions were filed, a number that rose to 223 in 2016, and now stands in excess of 330 for the upcoming November 2018 election. Initiative petitions, unlike other measures before voters, place a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

Ashcroft’s office contends a few special interest groups have abused the system by submitting large numbers of petitions on the same subject with minor language variations.

A bill sponsored by Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, adds numerous stipulations for those filing the petitions, including font and spacing requirements, a $500 filing fee, a word limit expansion and changes to language used to introduce summary statements.

Secretary Ashcroft says the proposal being considered would safeguard initiative petitions from special interest groups who want to side-step the legislative process.

Read more: Missourinet

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