March 29, 2015

Missouri House sends voter photo ID proposal to Senate

As it has done before in recent years, the state House has approved two measures aimed at requiring photo identification of voters in Missouri.

Tony Dugger floor 02-19-2015

Representative Tony Dugger (courtesy; Tom Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

One measure passed by the House would lay out how voter photo ID would work in Missouri, the other would ask voters in 2016 whether the state Constitution should be changed so voter photo ID can become law.  The bill would have no effect if voters reject the proposed amendment.

Click here to see how Missouri House members voted on both measures

Democrats including Stacey Newman (St. Louis) say the issue is really about reducing the number of blacks and older women who can vote – she argues those are groups who have a harder time getting photo ID, and who often vote for Democrats.

“Requiring a photo ID to vote knowing that everyone doesn’t have one is just another tactic to keep voters from polls who probably aren’t voting for you,” said Newman.

The debate over the past two days in the House often grew heated, with some Democrats calling the legislation “racist.”

House Speaker John Diehl, Junior (R-Town and Country), took the rare, for a House Speaker, step of speaking during debate. He insisted there is good reason the legislation is needed in Missouri.

“Why is this bill necessary? It’s because the secretary of state turns a blind eye to voter fraud in this state. I’ll say it again. The secretary of state turns a blind eye to voter fraud. The prior secretary of state turned a blind eye to voter fraud,” said Diehl.

The current secretary of state, Jason Kander, and his predecessor, Robin Carnahan, are both Democrats.

Both piece of legislation now go to the Senate.

Last year similar voter ID legislation cleared the House, but Senate Republicans agreed with Democrats in that chamber not to bring it up as part of a deal that saw Senate Democrats end a filibuster holding up abortion legislation.

How they voted: Missouri House votes on voter photo ID

The state House voted today to send two proposals to the Senate aimed at requiring photo identification of Missouri voters.

The first vote sheet is for a proposed change to the state Constitution.  This would be necessary for Missouri to enact a voter photo ID law because the state Supreme Court threw out a previous voter  photo ID law as unconstitutional.

How they voted - voter photo ID 02-19-2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second vote sheet, below, is for the language that would put the voter photo ID requirement into state statute.  That language, found in HB 30, would not take effect unless Missouri voters approve the proposed constitutional change, HJR 1, for which the vote sheet is seen above.

How they voted - voter photo ID 02-19-2015 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to see who your state representative is using the search tool on the House’s homepage

Schweich enters 2016 race for Missouri governor

State Auditor Tom Schweich has announced he is challenging former Missouri House Speaker and U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway for the Republican nomination for Missouri governor in 2016.

State Auditor Tom Schweich

State Auditor Tom Schweich

St. Louis Public Radio’s Joe Mannies reported his announcement on Twitter.

His announcement ends months of speculation about his political future. Schweich has been viewed for some time as a likely candidate for Governor but had declined to announce his plans until after the November, 2014 election.

He becomes the second Republican to declare candidacy for the 2016 governor’s race after Hanaway. Each have more than $1-million in their respective campaign funds. The only Democrat to announce candidacy for governor is Attorney General Chris Koster, who as of October listed more than $2.6-million on hand.

Schweich has been auditor since 2010 and won his second term in that office last year without Democratic opposition.

In recent years he has been credited as running an efficient and effective auditor’s office, but has also been criticized by Democrats for his legal challenges against Governor Nixon.

Hanaway preempted Schweich’s announcement by issuing a statement criticizing him for setting up a Republican primary for governor in 2016, saying primaries, “have repeatedly cost the Republican Party statewide elections.”

House Committee hears voter photo ID arguments

This year’s version of voter photo identification legislation has been debated in a House committee.

Representative Tony Dugger (R-Hartville)

Representative Tony Dugger (R-Hartville)

Representative Tony Dugger (R-Hartville) proposes requiring a person seeking to vote in Missouri to present one among certain forms of photo ID, including unexpired Missouri driver’s or nondriver’s licenses, a document with the individual’s name and photograph, or any unexpired armed services ID with a photo.

His bill would allow those who cannot pay for a birth certificate or other documentation needed to get such an ID, those with religious objections, or those born before 1950, to cast a provisional ballot. That ballot would only be counted if the voter returns with a sufficient form of identification within three days after the election.

Voter photo ID proposals have been offered in the Missouri legislature for a decade. Opponents say they are an attempt to disenfranchise voting groups that often lean Democratic, including students and minorities, who are less likely to meet the ID requirements it would establish.

Dugger said he is not trying to keep anyone who is eligible to vote from doing so. He told the House Committee on Elections he just wants to protect Missouri elections.

“I am 100-percent sure that voter impersonation fraud is taking place in the state of Missouri

and I think this photo ID is the only way that we can fix it,” Dugger said.

Representative Clem Smith (D-St. Louis County) told Dugger the fact that the bill hasn’t passed in ten years of attempts should tell him something.

“I would think in ten years you would have had the streets in turmoil, people demonstrating and protesting about this issue if it was major issue, which it’s really a non-issue,” Smith told Dugger. “It’s just a hindrance for me to vote.”

Opponents maintain there has been no proof that voter identification fraud has occurred in Missouri, but Dugger told the committee he found one such case. He said a woman learned that someone had already voted in her name in the November 2012, and that prevented her from voting in that election.

Representative Stacey Newman (D-Richmond Heights) was skeptical.

“Was that case documented? Was that case prosecuted?” Newman asked.

Dugger told Newman the lack of documented cases of fraud is not evidence of a lack of fraud, but of the difficulty in investigating it.

“Tell me how you’re going to prosecute that case,” Dugger responded. “How are you going to track down that voter who came in with that material?”

Dugger is proposing HB 30 which would lay out in statute how photo ID would be implemented in Missouri, and HJR 1, which would ask Missouri voters to allow that language to become law. If the latter were to make it to voters and be rejected, the photo ID language of HB 30 would be null.

Legislators want to make changing Missouri’s Constitution harder

Three state House Republicans are offering proposals that would make it harder to change Missouri’s Constitution.

Representative Scott Fitzpatrick (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Scott Fitzpatrick (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Right now an initiative petition must receive the signatures of at least 8-percent of the voters in six of Missouri’s eight Congressional districts in order to be put on a ballot. Representative Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob) has proposed increasing the requirement to 15-percent.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have a higher bar on amending the Constitution,” Fitzpatrick told Missourinet.

He thinks the initiative petition process doesn’t offer enough review of a measure.

“You don’t have that committee process and the opportunity for public testimony in the same manner as you would in the legislature,” said Fitzpatrick. He adds, if a change is made and a problem is found, it could take months or years for another ballot proposal to be passed to fix it.

Fitzpatrick said if he thought he would get enough support, he would propose eliminating Missouri’s initiative petition process.

Representative Elijah Haahr (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Elijah Haahr (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Once on the ballot an amendment currently requires a simple majority – more than half the votes cast – to pass. Representative Elijah Haahr (R-Springfield) has proposed a bill that would require a 60-percent majority.

“In the last decade we’ve seen a recent uptick in constitutional amendments, and I think we need to do something to kinda protect the sacredness of the document,” Haahr said. “We don’t necessarily want just a glorified statute code. We actually want an umbrella document that is limited and specific to constitutional principles supported by the overwhelming will of Missouri citizens.”

Representative Linda Black (R-Park Hills) wants to go even further in the cases of amendments that would impact hunting, fishing, wildlife or forestry, and require two-thirds of voters’ approval for those to pass.

“That’s to prevent any special interest groups that are funded nationally from coming into Missouri and changing our way of living and our rich tradition of sportsman activities,” Black said.

Representative Linda Black (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Linda Black (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

She thinks Missourians might be alright with elevating such issues to a higher standard than others.

“I think the people would put somewhat of a higher importance on that than other issues, but certainly job creation, education, transportation needs; those things are essential and important. Perhaps that is a valid question of is that one to garner a two-thirds majority requirement?”

Black’s and Fitzpatrick’s proposals would go to voters if approved by the legislature. All three have been pre-filed for the session that begins two weeks from Wednesday.