Missouri Republicans kicked off their 2023 legislative session this month with yet another attempt to stifle…no, make that kill… democracy in Missouri.
On Jan. 5, the first day proposed bills could be introduced, Rep. Ann Kelly (R-Lemar) sponsored a bill to make two changes to kill citizen-directed efforts to amend the state constitution:
• Kill majority rule – Presently, it takes the time-honored simple majority to make a change in the state’s constitution. Kelly’s bill would require a two-thirds vote (66%).
• Kill citizens’ rights – At present, to get a constitutional amendment to a vote, it takes gathering signatures of eight percent of registered voters in six out of Missouri’s eight congressional districts. Kelly wants to require signatures in all eight congressional districts.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
• Rep. Hardy Billington (R-Poplar Bluff) wants to increase the signature threshold to 15 percent in all eight districts.
• Rep. John Black (R-Marshfield) piles on with a bill that would require citizen-driven amendments to be passed by both (a) majority of the votes cast in more than half of the state Senate districts and (b) a majority of the total of the vote cast! WOW!
To get a complete picture of the impact of these changes, let’s look at recent history.
If Kelly’s 66 percent threshold had been in effect in 2018, passage of the Clean Missouri bill to clean up Missouri politics, Medicaid expansion to help tens of thousands of Missourians have access to health care, and legalizing marijuana all would have failed.
Sen. Greg Razer (D-Kansas City) pulled no punches when describing the disgraceful Republican efforts to stifle Missourians from having a voice in their own laws when he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Republican-controlled Legislature and executive branch “is upset when the people tell them, ‘We want you to do something different than what you did.’”
Brothers and Sisters, once again it’s clear that our votes have consequences. Citizen involvement in making laws is invested in our elected representatives, of course. But when we disagree with their judgement, we have a right to effect change if the majority of us want that change. That has always been the American principle that is supposed to be sacrosanct in our democracy.
To that concept, the Republicans have, once again, said “stuff it!”
When will we learn?!