Backers of proposals before the legislature changing the initiative petition process say they want to restore integrity to it.

One proposal bans petition organizers from paying their circulators for each signature gathered.. Supporters of the legislation says that kind of system encourages fraud. And they point to several instances in recent years where many fraudulent signatures have been submitted and uncovered when petitions are checked by county clerks.

Supporters of the proposed laws say the initiative petition process has gone far beyond what citizens and lawmakers designed it to be when it was put in the state constitution almost a century ago.

Other parts of the package require petition circulators to get signatures for only one issue at a time. Some petition carriers have carried petitions for several issues at a time. The legislation also would ban importing people from other states to carry petitions here. Sponsors point to an organization that imported busloads of people from Oklahoma one year.

Other proposals require petition circulators to be residents of Missouri and to register with the Secretary of State before they hit the streets looking for signatures—so they can be found later if there’s a criminal investigation. And another proposed law makes forging signatures on petition a felony carrying a prison term of as much as five years and a fine of $10,000.

A Senate Committee is working to combine all of the ideas into one omnibus measure.


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