Legislature asks Missouri voters to increase amendment threshold to 57%

(The Center Square) – Missouri voters will choose whether to make it more difficult to vote on changes to the state Constitution during the 2024 general election, or perhaps earlier if Republican Gov. Mike Parson calls for a special election.

If voters approve House Joint Resolution 43, citizen’s initiative petitions to change the Missouri Constitution would need 57% of the vote to pass. When the original bill was passed out of the House in January, it required 60% of the vote to pass.

“All we’re doing is putting this on the ballot for the people to decide if we’re right or wrong,” Rep. Mike Henderson, R-Bonne Terre, the resolution’s sponsor, said before it was approved by a 107-55 vote on Tuesday.

Democrats spoke against the bill, stating it would limit how people could make changes in the way the government operates.

“This is the way people get to put laws in place,” Rep. Robert Sauls, D-Independence, said during floor debate. “I think the reason it’s so popular, and the reason people get frustrated, is because we aren’t doing what the people want.”

Several media outlets reported Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals organization is considering an effort to put sports wagering on the ballot due to the legislature’s failure to pass a bill on sports wagering the last few years. Plus, there’s an effort underway to put on the ballot a measure to reestablish rights to abortion in Missouri.

“This is for the long term,” Henderson said. “It’s not really, in my opinion, set up because (Republicans) are in a super majority. We set it up for the future of Missouri, long term.”

Democrats also criticized the ballot language for the initiative, which begins, “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to allow only U.S. citizens to vote on ballot measures.” Henderson argued the language was necessary to establish who can vote because other states are changing eligibility due to immigration.

“There’s an old saying: If you put icing on dog poop, you don’t have a birthday cake; you just have dog poop with icing on it,” Rep. David Tyson Smith, D-Columbia, said toward the end of debate. “This is silences the will of the voters. It makes it difficult for people to have their voices heard.”

Several Republicans compared the Missouri Constitution to the U.S. Constitution and said the state document shouldn’t be easily changed. Henderson also said if voters approve the change, it will give rural areas more representation.

“I just hold the Constitution as something sacred,” Henderson said. “I think it’s a living document, but I don’t believe it should be an ever-growing document. In Missouri right now, it’s an ever-growing document. And I personally think statutes are a good place to put a lot of things.”

When voters approved constitutional amendments to legalize recreational marijuana last November and expand Medicaid in 2020, both passed with 53% of the vote.

About The Author

Get News, the way it was meant to be:

Fair. Factual. Trustworthy.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.