JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Judge Daniel Green issued a ruling Thursday in a suit challenging the language and fiscal note of the Early Childhood Health and Education Amendment, sponsored by Raise Your Hands for Kids (RYH4K).
Green upheld the initiative petition summary statement as fair and sufficient, but sided with plaintiff Jim Boeving, owner of Discount Smokes & Beer in Springfield, regarding the fiscal note summary, calling it insufficient and unfair. The ruling vacates the fiscal note and returns it to the state auditor for revision.
RYH4K and Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (MPCA) took opposite stances on the ruling, with RYH4K’s Executive Director Linda Rallo going on the offense against Boeving and MPCA.
“We are pleased that the summary statement for the Early Childhood Health and Education Amendment was upheld in circuit court, but disappointed in the court’s decision against the fiscal note,” said Rallo. “We believe that proponents of cheap cigarettes, led by the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, misled the court on the projected fiscal impact of this measure. Even the cheap cigarette companies’ own witness in the case admitted that the numbers in the Auditor’s fiscal note summary were reasonable. We look forward to supporting the Missouri Auditor’s fiscal summary in an immediate appeal.
“The Early Childhood Health and Education Amendment will generate upwards of $200 million every year for early childhood education, healthcare for children across Missouri, and much-needed smoking cessation programs. While special interest groups – led by retailers that market cheap cigarettes to kids – will undoubtedly continue to attempt to mislead Missourians about this measure, we know that this amendment will help to improve the lives of thousands of children across the state.”
Meanwhile, MPCA called the ruling a success.
“We agree with Judge Green’s ruling and have been saying all along that Big Tobacco’s initiative petition campaign has been deceptively speculative, unfair and misleading,” said Ron Leone, MPCA executive director. “It’s uncertain what the impact of the judge’s decision will be in the long run, but one thing is very clear: Big Tobacco can’t come into Missouri and mislead voters into thinking this is just ‘for the kids.'”
While RYH4K will appeal, Boeving and MPCA will be cross-appealing the judgment regarding the upheld summary statement, which states:
Nonetheless, this Court finds that the second bullet in the summary statement for the Initiative Petition Sample Sheet is not insufficient and unfair even though it represents that the fee in 2020 is 67 cents when it will be 73 cents in 2020.”
A post-signature language judgment is unprecedented, leaving the fate of the ballot measure entirely in the court’s hands.
Rachael Herndon is the editor at The Missouri Times, and also produces This Week in Missouri Politics, publishes Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosts the #moleg podcast. She joined the Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.
To contact Rachael, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or via Twitter @TheRachDunn.