Laws governing the initiative process in Missouri (archive)

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In Missouri, residents may propose new state statutes and new constitutional amendments through the initiative process. They may also initiate a veto referendum on recently-enacted laws.

Constitutional authority

The Missouri Constitution states:

The people reserve power to propose and enact or reject laws and amendments to the constitution by the initiative, independent of the general assembly, and also reserve power to approve or reject by referendum any act of the general assembly.

The veto power of the governor shall not extend to measures referred to the people. All elections on measures referred to the people shall be had at the general state elections, except when the general assembly shall order a special election. Any measure referred to the people shall take effect when approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon, and not otherwise. This section shall not be construed to deprive any member of the general assembly of the right to introduce any measure.[1]

Basic procedures

After forming their committee, proponents file the full text of their initiative with the Missouri Secretary of State (SOS), along with a sample petition form. Initiative language can be submitted at any time during the year.

The Secretary of State reviews the petition and also writes a ballot title and summary based on the full text. The SOS will take a suggested title and summary from proponents – but are not obligated to use it.

Once the SOS writes the title and summary, it is forwarded to the Missouri Attorney General for final approval. After the initiative is filed, the Missouri State Auditor writes a fiscal impact statement. Once the ballot title, summary and fiscal impact statement are written, proponents can begin circulating.

The Secretary of State, Attorney General and State Auditor are required to have everything completed within 30 days of when an initiative is filed. There is no statutory procedure for appealing the ballot title, ballot summary or fiscal impact statement. Proponents can, however, sue through normal legal channels.

Single-subject rule

See also: Single-subject rule

Missouri has a single-subject rule.

Signature requirements

See also: Missouri signature requirements

The signature requirement totals for initiatives are based on the number of votes cast for governor in the state's most recent gubernatorial election. In 2/3 of Missouri's congressional districts, proponents must collect signatures equal to 5 percent of the gubernatorial vote for initiated statutes and 8 percent of the gubernatorial vote for constitutional amendments. Thus, the total number of signatures required is less than 5 percent or 8 percent of the total votes cast for governor.

Until the next gubernatorial election in November 2016, the minimum number of signatures required is 157,788 for amendments and 98,618 for statutes. These numbers were calculated through looking at voting totals in the six smallest congressional districts. If other districts are targeted for signature collection, the requirements will be higher.[2]

Congressional district 2012 gubernatorial vote Rank (among districts) Req. for Statutes Req. for Amendments
1st 345,026 3 17,252 27,603
2nd 404,209 1 20,211 32,337
3rd 351,362 2 17,569 28,109
4th 325,375 4 16,269 26,030
5th 334,068 5 16,704 26,726
6th 338,577 6 16,929 27,087
7th 324,291 7 16,215 25,944
8th 304,975 8 15,249 24,398

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Missouri Constitution, Article III, Section 50 & 53

Circulation period

18 months.


Boxes of petitions filed at Missouri Secretary of State's office on May 2, 2010 Photo credit:Earl Glynn
See also: Petition drive deadlines, 2010

The signature-filing deadline in 2010 was Sunday, May 2.

The Missouri Secretary of State then verifies the signatures by random sampling to make sure signatures are authentic and belong to registered voters.

Legislative tampering

See also: Legislative tampering

The Missouri State Legislature can both repeal and amend initiated state statutes, but not initiated constitutional amendments.

Campaign finance requirements

See also: Campaign finance requirements for Missouri ballot measures

The notable features of Missouri's campaign finance law includes:

  • Missouri has two designations for groups in support or opposition of a ballot measure. Most are called Continuing Committees, while groups in support or opposition of judicial selection ballot measures are Campaign Committees.
  • Missouri requires all committees to follow the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance reform law for broadcast advertisement disclaimers.
  • Missouri bans committees from accepting out-of-state contributions unless the committee is registered in Missouri.
  • Missouri requires immediate reporting of contributions of $5,000 or more within 48 hours of receipt to the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Proposed changes


Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures

Bills that have or might be introduced in the 2011 session of the Missouri General Assembly include:


Changes in 2010 to laws governing ballot measures

The following proposals were made during the 2009-2010 session of the Missouri General Assembly:

See also

External links