MPCA lobbies lawmakers to oppose the amendment

JEFFERSON CITY,  Mo. – Amendment 3 will continue its contentious pre-election legal battles Thursday when the sides meet at the state Supreme Court for oral arguments.

At 9:00 a.m. the Missouri Supreme Court will hear oral arguments over the issue of whether the measure can be certified for the ballot. Secretary of State Jason Kander certified the petition last month, but opponents say all signatures collected should have been invalidated because an appeals court changed the official title and language after they were turned in.

“We are confident that the Missouri Supreme Court will affirm tomorrow the will of the more than 200,000 Missourians who signed petitions supporting ‘Yes on 3 for Kids’ and who know that we must start investing in Missouri kids and future by expanding early childhood education,” said Jane Dueker, an attorney and spokeswoman for Raise Your Hand for Kids, a committee supporting the Early Childhood Health and Education Amendment.

“Those arguments have already been found without merit,” Dueker said. “Notably, in his August 23 decision dismissing the opponents’ claim, 19th Circuit Court Judge Jon E. Beetem wrote that the opponents’ claim amounted to wanting to ‘[change] the rules – not in the middle of the game, but after the players have left the field.’ Further, Judge Beetem stated that ‘the initiative process is as close to pure ‘participatory democracy’ as the Missouri Constitution gets.’ He is right.”

The bill’s opponents were also confident while criticizing the amendment for taking money from large cigarette manufacturers.

“Big Tobacco disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of voters when the Court of Appeals ruled that they used “unfair and insufficient” ballot language to gather signatures for their flawed and outrageous 747% tax increase scheme”, said Ronald J. Leone, Executive Director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (MPCA). “As a result, we believe that justice and fairness requires that the Missouri Supreme Court strike Big Tobacco’s Amendment 3 from the November ballot.”

Outside the courtroom, the amendment’s opponents are working on their electoral opposition to the measure. Lobbyists for the MPCA spent Wednesday’s veto session trying to convince legislators to oppose the amendment. Their goal appears to be to collect 100 lawmakers who oppose Amendment 3.

On its website, the amendment claims bipartisan support from state Reps. Diane Franklin, R-Cape Girardeau, and Jeremy LaFaver, D-Kansas City.