Missouri legislators end session without passing any initiative proposals

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May 17, 2010

Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City

By Kyle Maichle

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri: The Missouri General Assembly on May 14, 2010, ended its 2009-2010 session without passing any changes to the state's initiative laws. The legislature did, however, approve several new campaign finance and ethics requirements.

The ethics package was passed on the last day of session clearing the Missouri House of Representatives on a 153-5 vote and the Senate on a 32-1 vote. As a result of the new bill, there will be real-time campaign finance reporting when the General Assembly is in session. The new requirement calls for any contribution of $500 or more during session must be reported within 48 hours. Also, the bill restricts transfers of funds between political committees and allows the Missouri Ethics Commission to start investigations without formal complaints. Any investigation without a formal complaint must receive the unanimous approval from the members of the Ethics Commission. Also, the new law makes it a crime for the Governor of Missouri to offer a job in exchange for a vote[1]. The bill awaits the signature of Governor Jay Nixon.

During the legislative session, Missouri legislators brought up 12 different proposals that would have changed the initiative process in Missouri. Close to one-fourth of the proposed bills dealt with changing requirements for petition circulators.

One key bill was House Bill 1788, that would have added more restrictions and prohibitions for petition circulators in Missouri. The bill would have banned circulators being paid per the signature, disallowed any non-Missouri resident from circulating petitions, and made it illegal for any person convicted of forgery from circulating petitions. The bill was approved on April 19, 2010 by the Missouri House in a bi-partisan fashion, but later died in Senate committee[2]. The two other proposals that received approval in least one house of the General Assembly included changing the counting requirements for referendums dealing with super-majority vote[3] and allowing third-class cities in Missouri to have advisory referendums[4]. The rest of the proposed initiative bills did not see a floor vote in either house of the General Assembly.

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