Ballot Initiatives

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Missourians are slated to vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban sales taxes on services.

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander certified the measure, known as Amendment 4, last week for the Nov. 8 ballot. The relatively short amendment says:

cigarette closeup
G.Arands | Flickr | Creative Commons license

Updated with MNEA decision - One of two ballot initiatives that would increase Missouri’s cigarette tax may be in trouble. A Cole County judge has said the fiscal note on a 60-cent-a-pack proposal overestimates the revenue that would be raised. He has directed the auditor to review the projection, and that would invalidate the petitions turned in by Raise Your Hand for Kids.

The organization has said it will appeal.

StanJourdan | Flickr

For now, it’s all over but the counting. The Missouri Secretary of State’s office will be busy the next few weeks determining whether five initiative-petition proposals collected enough valid signatures to get on the state’s August or November ballot.

Erin Williams / St. Louis Public Radio

President Barack Obama sent a message during his State of the Union address to every mayor, governor and state legislator who want to increase the minimum wage: Don't wait on Congress, Americans will support more local government initiatives.

Flickr/MoDOTNews

Wes Shoemyer was content to ride off into the political sunset. 

The former Democratic state senator lost his re-election bid decisively in 2010. Afterward he told people in Jefferson City that he had a great “consolation prize” – going back to his farm near Monroe County.

But Shoemyer is leaping back into the fray to fight an amendment making it more difficult to regulate agriculture. And he’s taking on familiar adversaries – some the state’s largest agricultural organizations.

peter.a photography | Flickr

Updated 3:40 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15

Advocates for partly legalizing the growing and use of marijuana in Missouri have gotten the go-ahead to circulate 13 different initiative petitions in the state.

But that doesn’t mean any of the proposals will be on this fall’s ballot.

On Wednesday, the Missouri secretary of state's office said it had approved all 13 initiatives for circulation. Nearly 158,000 signatures from registered voters will be needed to put any of the proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot.

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As soon as the snow melts, Missourians may find themselves confronting a horde of people stopping them outside stores, on the streets or at their front doors.

The object: to get their signatures on petitions that would put a variety of issues – such as early voting, income taxes and teacher tenure – on the August or November ballot.

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A group of educators is suing the state of Missouri over a proposed constitutional amendment requiring tenure for public school teachers be based on performance, not seniority.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The Missouri House has approved legislation aimed at increasing the transparency of initiative petitions that bypass the Legislature to put proposed laws or constitutional amendments on statewide ballots.
 
Sponsors of the petitions must gather signatures from registered voters for their proposal to qualify for the ballot.
 

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) has made changes to the initiative petition process.

Effective immediately, the Secretary of State’s office will begin posting initiative petitions to its website before the summary language is written.  Kander has also authorized 5-day comment periods that will begin the same day the initiative petitions are posted.

(via Friends of Shane Schoeller)

Agricultural interests are being highlighted in the Missouri Secretary of State’s race this week.

Republican nominee Shane Schoeller is conducting a “Farm Values Tour” across the state, in which he’s reviving memories of the recent battle over dog breeding regulations.  He says his Democratic opponent, Jason Kander, would follow in Robin Carnahan’s footsteps in writing ballot summaries that could greatly harm farmers who also breed dogs.

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A Cole County judge has upheld a ballot summary prepared by Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) for a proposed constitutional amendment that would expand the governor’s role in appointing State Supreme Court judges.

The ballot language for Amendment 3 asks:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to change the current nonpartisan selection of supreme court and court of appeals judges to a process that gives the governor increased authority to:

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There will be no challenge to the new language inserted onto a ballot initiative by a Cole County judge regarding health insurance exchanges.

The version initially approved by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) had asked if state law should, “deny individuals, families and small businesses the ability to access affordable health care,” unless the people or the legislature created an exchange.  In a statement, Carnahan says Attorney General Chris Koster (D) refused to file an appeal on her office’s behalf.  Lt. Governor Peter Kinder (R) filed suit against Carnahan over that language.  He applauded the Democratic Attorney General’s move.

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Updated 4:15 p.m. Thursday: Carnahan will not appeal Judge Green's new language, saying Attorney General Chris Koster refused a request for further legal action, and the Secretary of  State's office is not in a position to appeal on its own.  A full version of today's developments can be found here.

Our original story:

The language used in a ballot initiative approved by Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) has been tossed out by a Cole County judge.

Proposition E centers on the conditions for creating a health care exchange in Missouri; the language authorized by Carnahan read in part whether the law should “deny individuals, families and small businesses the ability to access affordable health care.”  Lt. Governor Peter Kinder (R) called the language used by the Secretary of State unbelievably biased.

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

(Update:  Judge Daniel Green ruled in favor of Lt. Gov. Kinder and changed the ballot language initially approved by Sec. of State Carnahan...an updated version of this story can be found here.)

A Cole County judge heard arguments today in a lawsuit that claims Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) deliberately used misleading language in a ballot initiative regarding the creation of a health insurance exchange.

The language in question asks in part if the law should “deny individuals, families and small businesses the ability to access affordable health care.”  Attorney Jay Kanzler represents Lt. Governor Peter Kinder (R) and a group of Republican legislative leaders who filed suit.

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A Missouri appeals court has ruled that language used to summarize a ballot proposal giving St. Louis city  control of its police department is fair.

The Supreme Court of Missouri
via Flickr | david_shane

Well, the Missouri Supreme Court has certainly done its part for the news cycle today with an array of decisions.

Here's a quick taste of what happened, and links to our separate stories so you can dig in to find out more about each.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to the authority of the state auditor to write financial summaries for ballot initiatives.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder (R) and GOP legislative leaders have filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) over the language used in a ballot initiative regarding health care exchanges.

The language approved by Carnahan asks if the law should be amended to, “deny individuals, families, and small businesses the ability to access affordable health care plans through a state-based health benefit exchange unless authorized by statute, initiative or referendum.”  Kinder says the language skews the ballot question’s true purpose, to bar the governor from creating an exchange by executive order.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Six lawsuits involving three ballot initiatives were heard Monday by the Missouri Supreme Court.

At stake are ballot questions that would raise Missouri’s cigarette tax, raise the minimum wage to $8.25 an hour, and cap interest rates on payday loans.  The fate of all three may turn on whether the State Auditor has the authority to estimate the financial impact of citizens’ petition initiatives.  Attorney Ronald Holliger argued that the High Court should uphold a lower court ruling supporting the State Auditor’s authority.

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Mo. Supreme Court to decide fate of November ballot initiatives

The Missouri Supreme Court will hear arguments this morning to determine the fate of several ballot initiatives.

Election officials still have yet to determine if supporters of increasing the minimum wage and tobacco tax, and capping the rate of payday loans, have gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

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Two ballot questions going before Missouri voters in November won’t cost or save the state any money, according the State Auditor’s office.

One in particular would make changes to how appellate judges are selected.  The fiscal note for that measure was put together by Deputy Auditor Harry Otto.

“(We contacted) four statewide offices, 20 other departments/agencies, the House and Senate," Otto said.  "Out of those 24 places that we contacted we received comments from 16, and all 16 said ‘no costs associated with this measure.’”

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich has instructed his staff to stop doing financial estimates for ballot initiatives because of several recent court decisions.

Schweich says the court rulings have made it impossible to conduct financial estimates that can withstand legal challenges.

The memo telling staff to temporarily stop providing financial analyses for initiatives was obtained by The Associated Press under an open-records request.

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Mo. National Guardsmen safe after insurgent attack

All 55 members of a Missouri National Guard agriculture team are safe following an insurgent attack on the forward operating base where they are stationed in Afghanistan.

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A lawsuit seeking to block a proposed constitutional amendment regarding voter identification in Missouri was heard today in Cole County.

The ballot measure was passed last year by the General Assembly and is scheduled to go before Missouri voters in November.  If approved, it would clear the way for lawmakers to pass enabling legislation to require voters to show a photo ID at the polls.  Tony Rothert is an attorney with the ACLU of Eastern Missouri.  He calls the ballot measure misleading.

Both sides of the debate on how St. Louis would handle local control of its police department are digging in their heels over issues of public oversight and transparency.

At a Board of Alderman community forum last night, critics argued that language on a proposed ballot initiative would preclude the department from a civilian review board and restrict public access to disciplinary records. 

John Chasnoff is a program director for the ACLU, which supports local control but is suing to block the initiative.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

A Missouri judge has struck down the State Auditor's authority to prepare financial estimates for ballot initiatives.

The ruling by Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem comes in a challenge to a proposed tobacco tax initiative for which supporters are not gathering signatures. But attorneys who specialize in initiative petitions say the ruling ultimately could affect other initiatives.

Flickr/PinkMoose

Critics challenge Mo. measure to limit payday loan interest

The proposed ballot measure would cap interest, fees and charges for payday and car title loans at 36 percent per year.

Critics of the proposal filed a lawsuit in the state Capitol's home of Cole County. The suit contends a ballot summary for the proposal is inadequate and unfair and that the cost estimate for the proposal does not address all the possible costs.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

An effort to cap campaign contributions to candidates in Missouri has moved one step forward.

The secretary of state's office on Friday approved a summary for a proposed ballot measure. That clears the way for supporters to begin collecting the more than 91,000 signatures needed to put the question to voters in 2012.

The proposal would bar candidates from accepting more than $5,000 per donor for each election.

Missouri's campaign finance laws have undergone numerous makeovers in recent years.