Attorney General Andrew Bailey loses Round One in the fight over efforts to make abortion legal again in Missouri.
Cole County District Judge Jon Beetem ruled today that the attorney general failed to perform the duties of his office when he refused to approve the cost estimate for 11 proposed ballot initiatives designed to legalize abortion.
The ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri. Their client, Dr. Anna Fitz-James, filed all 11 proposed ballot measures with the Secretary of State’s office. However, they did not include the estimated costs to the state because Bailey refused to forward that information on. He contends that the State Auditor’s office extremely underestimated how much the proposals would cost the state, which he has said could be more than $12 billion a year in Medicaid funding. The fiscal note provided by the Auditor’s office estimated that local governments stood to lose about $51,000 a year while there would be no estimated costs or savings for state agencies — but also acknowledged the possibility of an “unknown impact.”
“As someone who is steadfastly pro-life, I am personally opposed to these ballot initiatives and the taking of innocent lives,” State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick said in a written statement. “However, I firmly believe my personal stance cannot and should not impact the duty my office has to provide voters with an unbiased assessment of each measure’s fiscal impact. I appreciate the decision of the court to uphold the process that has been in place for decades so my office can continue to create fiscal notes that are as fair and accurate as possible.”
Tony Rothert, an attorney with the ACLU of Missouri, also responded to today’s ruling: “In recent months, the Attorney General has unveiled a reckless desire to impose his will on Missourians’ access to health care by violating the constitutional bounds the people of the state have granted the office to which he was appointed. His illegal actions have obstructed the statutorily prescribed timeline twice over, showing a depth of antipathy towards our right to direct democracy in an attempt to prevent Missourians from voting for their reproductive freedom.”
Judge Beetem also ordered Bailey to approve the cost projection sent to him by Fitzpatrick within 24 hours of the judgement being handed down. Once that’s done, the Secretary of State’s office can then examine each proposal and decide if ones can be circulated statewide to collect signatures from Missouri voters.
There’s no word yet if Bailey will appeal the ruling.
Copyright 2023, Missourinet.