The Secretary of State already has approved 23 petitions for circulation before next year’s elections. A state senator who has seen the number of petition campaigns mushroom in the last four years says it’s time to slow things down.

More than 100 petitions were submitted to the Secretary of State for circulation int he 2009-2010 election cycle, about double the number from the previous cycle. Already since last November’s election, 47 petitions have been submitted. Half of them have been approved for circulation.

Senator Jolie Justus of Kansas City says “direct democracy is an incredibly ijportant tool” for Missourians. But she says it’s too easy to change the constitution.

Justus says petitions increasingly are NOT grass-roots efforts. She says the process is being taken over by wealthy individuals and groups. “I woujld argue that it’s easier to pass a law or change the constitution of Missouri than it is to get elected to office, ” she says, “And I think that’s wrong.”

Proposed constitutional amendments need signatures from eight percent of the voters in two-thirds of the congressional districts to get on the ballot. Changes of statutes need five percent. Justus wants to require signatures from all congressional districts.

An opponent says her plan will backfire because it will leave the field open to well-funded individuals who can afford a statewide effort.

Justus’s bill is still in committee.

 Listen to the hearing on SJR13 14:23 mp3