JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A political action committee seeking to help defend the fuel tax ballot measure in court is arguing that those bringing the lawsuit have no standing, at this time, to challenge a proposed law.
SaferMo.Com is a committee created in support of Proposition D — the ballot measure sent to the voters by the General Assembly with the passage of HB 1460. The measure is asking Missourians to approve a 10 cent fuel tax increase, the creation of an “Emergency State Freight Bottleneck Fund,” and exempting Olympic winnings from state income taxes.
The constitutionality of the measure is being challenged in court and SaferMo.com, along with the committee’s treasurer Terry Briggs, is seeking to help defend it in court. In the motion to intervene, they cite more than half a dozen instances when ballot measure proponents have been granted intervention in cases involving challenges to ballot measures.
“[SaferMo.com is] interested in the outcome and result of this litigation,” the motion reads. “They have expended time and financial resources in support of the passage of HB 1460 and its placement before the voters for adoption or rejection of the measure. [SaferMo.com has] expended time and financial resources in support of the ultimate adoption of HB 1460 by the voters.”
As proponents of the ballot measure, SaferMo.com argues that they have different interests than the named defendants — the Missouri Secretary of State, the Director of the Missouri Department of Revenue, the Director of the Department of Transportation, and the Superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
According to the motion, State Defendants generally take a time-neutral stance regarding ballot title litigation and have no necessary reason to appeal an adverse decision. SaferMo.com seeks to resolve this in an expedited manner and “have an interest different than Defendants because they seek to advocate for voter approval of HB 1460 at the general election.”
On July 2, 2018, Rep. Mike Moon and Ronald Calzone filed a lawsuit in Cole County alleging that HB 1460, which was sponsored by Rep. Jean Evans, violated the Missouri Constitution on “procedural infirmities,” including violations of the single subject and clear title clause. They also allege the bill was not the proper vehicle for a ballot measure.
SaferMo.com argues that since HB 1460 is simply a proposed law and has not been enacted into law, the lawsuit is not “ripe.”
“Plaintiffs have no standing at this time to challenge a proposed law,” reads the motion. The defense portion of the motion states that Moon and Calzone cannot claim an injury from the proposed law because that would not occur until the voters adopt the measure in November.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.