Summary

Rural Missourians deserve to have their voices heard in the initiative petition process. Missouri law should ensure that all parts of the state are adequately represented in signature collection.

Background

MOFB members are concerned with the dramatic increase in ballot initiatives. The current process allows concentrated populations in cities to drive the process without gaining broad consensus across the state. If Missouri is going to change its state constitution or circumvent the legislative process, it should reflect broad agreement of all parts of our state, not just the population centers.

Status

In its 2019 session, the state legislature debated several proposals to update the Initiative Petition process. Unfortunately, none of these proposals successfully passed both chambers. MOFB supports taking this issue up again in future legislative sessions.

MOFB Policy

We believe the Missouri Constitution is too easily changed (having more than 100 amendments since its adoption in 1945 as compared to the U.S. Constitution having only 27 amendments since 1790, including the first ten called The Bill of Rights). A Constitution should be a framework for action rather than a collection of special-interest taxes and programs. Therefore, we support an amendment to the Missouri Constitution requiring a two-thirds majority rather than a simple majority to adopt amendments. We believe that only a simple majority vote should be necessary to completely remove existing constitutional amendments previously adopted by a simple majority.

We believe out-of-state interests should be restricted as much as possible from instigating changes to Missouri’s Constitution and laws through the initiative petition process.

We support legislation which would require sponsoring organizations of initiative petitions to be identified and give accurate and detailed public notice of the provisions contained in the statutory or constitutional changes being proposed. Such notice should be given in advance of any efforts to obtain signatures.

We support requiring signature gatherers be registered Missouri voters.

We support requiring signature gatherers to disclose if they are paid or volunteers.

We support requiring a public hearing or independent review of proposed ballot initiatives by the bipartisan Joint Committee on Legislative Research prior to final approval of ballot language by the Secretary of State.

We support legislation which would require people gathering signatures on an initiative petition to ask potential signers of the petition to first read the ballot title.

We support limiting the use of professional signature gathering organizations for initiative petition efforts, including prohibiting payment on a per-signature basis and requiring them to register with the state.

We support requiring detailed cost estimates and proposed funding sources with any proposed ballot initiative for voter approval.

We recommend that when a ballot measure proposed by initiative petition or legislation is approved for inclusion on the Missouri ballot, and Missouri Farm Bureau has no policy on the issue, that Missouri Farm Bureau make an effort to inform members of the pro and con facts of the issue.

We further recommend that Missouri Farm Bureau poll county presidents to determine whether to establish a position on the initiative after providing appropriate educational materials.

We support granting the Secretary of State the authority for charging reasonable fees when filing a ballot initiative for the purpose of discouraging frivolous and repetitive initiative petitions.

We believe that for initiated constitutional amendments, proponents must collect signatures equal to at least eight percent of the most recent gubernatorial vote in all of Missouri’s Congressional districts.