Jefferson City, MO – The 2022 legislative session began with a flurry of attempts to dismantle Missouri’s initiative petition process, but ended May 13 with the state’s 115-year-old, Constitutionally protected path to direct democracy bruised and battered, but still intact.
In a direct contradiction of public sentiment, the Missouri Legislature debated nearly 20 different bills in recent months that would have made it more difficult for voters to place issues directly on the ballot through citizen initiative petitions, or for such proposals to win approval.
That included House Joint Resolution 79, which, as introduced, would have raised the current voter approval threshold for petitions from the standard 50 percent majority to a two-thirds (67 percent) supermajority — a change that would have essentially dismantled the process entirely.
A final week substitute amendment – offered by a special interest lobbyist for the primary out-of-state group pushing the change – scaled back that effort to instead require 60 percent approval for “issues that raise taxes, fees or obligate the state to appropriate more than $10 million a year.”
As initially written – and approved by the state House of Representatives – HJR 79 would have significantly increased the number of signatures required to even qualify for the ballot.
That language too was eliminated from later versions of the legislation, which died in the Senate May 11 following an extended filibuster by several Democratic lawmakers.
“Whether Democrat, Republican, independent or third-party voter, Missourians of all political stripes overwhelmingly oppose any efforts to curtail our citizens’ initiative petition process,” said Richard von Glahn, policy director for Missouri Jobs with Justice.
“With a 2022 legislative session marked by chronic dysfunction, we challenge our elected leaders to move forward, abandon this transparent power grab and get back to the business of governing our state.”
Von Glahn cited a pair of recent polls on behalf of two divergent political groups showing support for the existing ballot initiative process among Missouri voters of all political persuasions.