This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 14, 2011 - Supporters of the effort to return control of St. Louis' police department to City Hall have received approval from the Missouri secretary of state's office to circulate initiative petitions to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot.
The secretary of state's office announced this afternoon that it had approved five different versions of the local-control proposal for circulation. The petitions are so similar that the ballot description for each is identical, a spokeswoman said.
The ballot description reads:
"Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
- Require that all municipal police forces or departments be controlled by the municipal governing body where the police force or department is located; and
- Require the governing body of any city whose municipal police force or department was under state control, currently St. Louis and Kansas City, to maintain the terms of any existing pension plan for current or retired officers or employees of such police force or department who were hired prior to November 6, 2012?"
The secretary of state's office also has OKed an initiative petition that seeks to reduce the size of the Missouri House to 103 members, from its current 163. The petition is being pressed by the Missouri Democratic Party, although some in both parties have sought the reduction for years.
Any initiative petition that calls for proposing the state's constitution must collect signatures from roughly 147,000 to almost 160,000 registered voters in at least six of the state's nine congressional districts. The number required depends on which six districts are selected.
The signatures must be submitted by 5 p.m. on May 6, 2012.