Missouri Supreme Court tasked with untangling state initiative dilemma

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June 26, 2012


By: Al Ortiz

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri: Legal challenges have lead to bigger implications surrounding the state initiative process, and the Missouri Supreme Court is going to have its say on the matter.[1]

The state supreme court is currently hearing arguments this week on whether or not initiatives that have turned in signatures for the 2012 ballot can be allowed to be placed in front of voters. The developments stem from a challenge to an initiative circulating earlier this year for a fall vote.

Below is a summary of events that lead up to the current situation involving the state high court.

Lawsuit filed

Previously, on February 28, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetum struck down a law that directs the state auditor to prepare fiscal analysis for proposed ballot initiatives.[2]

According to reports, Beetem stated that the law was in violation of the Missouri Constitution. Specifically, the ruling stated that the 1997 statute conflicts with a constitutional provision that prohibits laws mandating the state auditor to perform duties unrelated to overseeing the spending and receiving of public money.

What was originally a challenge to the tobacco tax initiative has now grown into a statewide confusion of the initiative process. Events in the state took another twist leading up to the week of April 23, 2012 when Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich told his staff via e-mail to cease preparation of financial estimates of initiatives, directly because of the court ruling.

Ballot initiatives must have the official financial summary included with submitted petition signatures, making it unclear as to what will happen to proposed 2012 initiatives until the supreme court rules on the matter.

Election officials have until August 7 to deem signatures valid or not. However, that may not matter depending on what the high court rules.

View initiatives that submitted signatures by the state petition drive deadline on Missouri's 2012 ballot measure page on Ballotpedia.

See also

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