State lawmakers worried that it’s too easy to add amendments to the state constitution say they’ll keep working on a way to make it harder to do it.
The process has to be changed anyway because Missouri is going from nine congressional districts to eight. Present law says petition signatures have to be gathered in six of nine districts. But there won’t be nine districts soon. Senator Brian Nieves of Washington proposes requiring signatures from all eight districts–although fewer in each district than is needed today. He says his plan could produce petitions that would be more “reflective” of the entire state.
Some fellow senators complain that petition campaigns under the present system are allowing people to treat the constitution like a statute book. Senators such as Kevin Engler of Farmington argue that amending the constitution should be harder than writing a law. But the present system is being abused. “Now we put things in the constitution like it’s nothing,” he says.
Other senators don’t want the number of signatures per district reduced. That lack of consensus has kept lawmakers from changing the process this year. But the differing sides think they agree on the basics and can work out an agreement before the next session.