JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A judge could decide as early as next week whether or not to block a ballot measure seeking to alter the way state legislative districts are drawn among other changes to the General Assembly.
In a standing-room-only hearing, Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green heard arguments Friday from attorneys for Paul Ritter, a Republican voter, and Daniel Mehan, the head of Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
They argued that the ballot measure violated Missouri law on five counts including dealing with more than one subject, amending more than one article of the Missouri Constitution, and violating the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. They are asking that the question be ruled unconstitutional and removed from the ballot.
The Secretary of State’s Office and intervenors Clean Missouri, who sponsored the ballot initiative, said that the measure only deals with one subject matter — the state legislature — and argued that measure should be put to a vote of the people.
Both sides cited the 1990 Supreme Court ruling in Missourians to Protect Init. Proc. v. Blunt to argue their side.
Eddy Greim, representing Ritter, said it was “uncanny” how similar this case is to the Blunt case. He argued that like the Blunt case, the Clean Missouri amendment deals with the General Assembly and the executive branch, which violates the single subject rule.
Representing Mehan was Lowell Pearson and Marc Ellinger, who agreed with Greims arguments and added their own.
The argument made by Greim was that by creating the office of a state demographer is would be creating an office in the executive branch and by having the state auditor be involved with the selection of the demographer, it altered the duties of the auditor. Since both of those actions are not related to the General Assembly, according to Greim, it violates the single subject requirement.
Jason Lewis, assistant attorney general, and Chuck Hatfield, representing Clean Missouri, argued that it is categorically wrong and that the state demographer would not a new executive branch position. Each of the provisions in the measure are all related to the regulation and composition of a single entity — the General Assembly.
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.