Ballot Initiatives

(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.

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

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.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

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.

(via Flickr/hlkljgk)

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.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

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.

(via Flickr/ Daniel Morrison)

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.

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