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Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Petition Clause Takes a Beating in Missouri

The people elected to make laws in Missouri are trying to make it more difficult for voters to make laws themselves.

The General Assembly’s quest to restrict ballot initiatives could cause a clash between the people’s constitutional rights and the legislature’s constitutional powers.

In addition to general free speech rights, the Missouri Constitution specifically states that people have the right to enact laws and constitutional amendments through initiatives, independent of the General Assembly.

Yet the legislature also has the power to prescribe the details of how that is done.

So on Feb. 28, the House voted 107-41 to pass legislation that would impose several new requirements on the people who gather petition signatures. The bill, H.B. 1763, would:

  • Require petition circulators to be Missouri residents and U.S. citizens.
  • Prohibit them from being paid based on the number of signatures they gather.
  • Bar them from simultaneously collecting signatures for more than one initiative.
  • Require them to register with the secretary of state’s office before they start collecting signatures rather than before the deadline to turn them in, as is currently the case.

The legislation now heads to the Senate, where a similar proposal already is pending on this week’s debate calendar.

More here.

1 comment:

Evan Ravitz said...

Switzerland has the best idea for collecting initiative signatures: petitions can be left at government offices, supermarkets, etc., where people can read & sign at leisure, without pressure or misrepresentation. But "our" representatives aren't thinking about signer's rights or the truth, they're trying to undermine initiatives, which threaten their monopoly on power.

The best project for better and national ballot initiatives is led by former Sen. Mike Gravel and YOU can vote to ratify it at http://Vote.org, much as citizens ratified the Constitution at the Conventions!

This project has been voted the #1 democratic idea for the next President's agenda: http://OnDayOne.org/ideas/democracy