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