EDITORIAL: Don't hijack rights of Missourians
Apr. 29—We implore Missouri lawmakers once again to leave the state's initiative petition process alone.
Right now, it takes a simple majority to pass such a measure, whether as a constitutional amendment or state statute.
But the Missouri Senate this week endorsed a plan to raise the threshold for passing constitutional amendments to 57% of the vote or a simple majority statewide and in five of eight congressional districts. When the measure passed the House in February, the threshold was set at 60% with no alternative majority possible.
According to the Missouri Independent, the House will decide next week whether to negotiate the differences.
We can think of three good reasons voters should reject any effort to change it,
—Amendment 2. In 2020, the Medicaid Expansion Initiative amended the Constitution of Missouri to expand Medicaid. It passed with 53.27% of the vote.
—The Hancock Amendment. In 1980, the Missouri Constitution was amended to include tax, revenue and spending limits and refunds to taxpayers if a threshold is exceeded. Mel Hancock used the initiative petition process. It passed with 55% of the voters.
—The Missouri Conservation Sales Tax Amendment (Amendment 1) imposed a one-eighth of 1% sales tax to fund bird, fish, game, forestry and wildlife programs. Last year it generated nearly $134 million for conservation. It passed nearly 50 years ago but just barely, with only 50.8% of the vote.
None of these would have made it if lawmakers get their way.
Lawmakers decry the number of proposals that are being added to the Missouri Constitution, such as the recent medical and recreational marijuana amendments. We, too, wish that wasn't necessarily the case. But that is the fault of lawmakers, who can make changes to and even repeal proposals that are merely statutory. And they have, with voter-driven campaign finance reform and regulation of dog breeders.
In the end, there's an even better reason to oppose what Jefferson City is trying to do. The right to pass laws and amend the Missouri Constitution belongs to the people, not the lawmakers, who have said for 115 years that a simple majority of 50% works for them.