Missouri Voters Will Decide a Bevy of Ballot Issues This Year
Plus: A goodbye and a thank you from your purveyor of Potpourri.
This election cycle brought about an unprecedented flow of initiative petitions -- 143 to be exact.
Even though an innumerable amount of trees were sacrificed in paperwork, only four items have any chance of making it to the ballot.
Earlier in May, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan announced that various groups had turned in signatures for the following ballot initiatives:
- A bid to transition oversight of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department away from state control.
- A measure that would raise taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products by 73 cents.
- Changes to how “payday loan” facilities can operate in the state, an issue that has drawn national attention.
- An item aiming to raise the state’s minimum wage to $8.25 an hour.
It’s not known yet whether any of these items will actually be put up for a vote. For one thing, several of the items, including the cigarette tax increase and the payday loan measure, are tied up in litigation. Arch City Chronicle writer Dave Drebes indicated earlier this month that the cases may be heard later in June.
The other wrinkle is that the proposals need a specific amount of signatures. According to Carnahan’s office, statutory changes require valid signatures from registered voters equal to 5 percent of the total votes cast in the 2008 governor's election from six of the state's nine congressional districts.
Depending on the combination of districts, according to Carnahan’s office, the number of signatures required ranges between approximately 91,818 and 99,600 valid signatures.
Even if Carnahan’s office declares that a petition hasn’t reached the signature threshold, there have been cases in which organizations in support of a ballot measure successfully sued to reverse such a ruling. That happened in 2006, when proponents of a cigarette tax increase pushed a measure to the ballot after Carnahan’s office said there weren’t enough ballots.
Another way for statutory changes and constitutional amendments to make the ballot is through the legislature. The General Assembly has the authority to place certain initiatives on the ballot, which can often be a way to prevent a particularly controversial measure from getting vetoed by a governor.
The legislature ended up passing three such measures this year. They include:
- A constitutional amendment making changes to the Missouri Non-Partisan Court, a process in which judges for the Missouri Supreme Court and Missouri Court of Appeals are selected.
- A statutory change barring a governor from implementing a health insurance exchange through executive order.
- And a constitutional amendment that reaffirms Missourians’ right to pray.
The “Right to Pray” amendment will be voted on during the August primary, while the legislature mandated that the health insurance exchange item will be on the November ballot. Gov. Jay Nixon indicated that the court plan amendment will be voted on in November.
A personal note: This will be my last column for Patch, as I’ve accepted a full-time staff position at the St. Louis Beacon.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everybody at Patch that I’ve worked with during the past year and a half. I’d like to provide a special shout out to Creve Coeur Patch Editor Gregg Palermo, the man who made this column possible.
I wish everybody working in the St. Louis iteration of Patch nothing but the best in their future endeavors.