JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A district court of appeals has ruled against a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a referendum sent to the voters from the Missouri General Assembly.
The Missouri Court of Appeals-Western District dismissed the petition brought by Ron Calzone and Rep. Mike Moon against the Secretary of State and intervenors, SaferMO.com, without prejudice, ruling that the “case is not ripe for pre-election judicial review.”
The lawsuit alleged that the final version of House Bill 1460 did not adhere to the original purpose and intent of the bill and including more than a single subject.
The referendum, known as Proposition D, was approved in the closing hours of the 2018 legislative session. In the final days of the session, lawmakers added the fuel tax increase and a bottleneck fund to the bill that dealt with tax deductions for Olympic medals.
In the lower court’s ruling on August 14, Osage County Circuit Judge Robert Schollmeyer determined that the procedures used to place the referendum on the ballot did not violate the Missouri Constitution as alleged and the case was ripe pre-election.
While the Court of Appeals-Western District did side with the Secretary of State, it also determined that the trial court erred when it considered the case ripe.
“…the constitutional and statutory provisions relating to the procedure and form of referendums ordered by the general assembly do not support pre-election review of Appellants’ challenges….and because H.B. 1460 may never be enacted by voters, Appellants’ claims are not ripe,” wrote Judge Victor Howard in the unanimous 9-page decision.
“SaferMO.com appreciates the Court of Appeals ruling and our positive campaign in support of Proposition D for safer roads and safer streets is moving ahead, as we take our case to voters over the next nine weeks,” said Scott Charton, spokesman for SaferMO.com. “Missouri is losing ground on road and bridge progress because of the eroded purchasing power of the state motor fuels user tax that was last raised 22 years ago. That 17 cents motor fuels user tax is today worth 7 cents, while the number of highway lanes in the nation’s seventh-largest state road system has increased by 6,200 miles. Missourians understand the need, as shown by our broad and growing coalition in support of Prop D, and that is why we are confident Missouri voters will say “yes” on Prop D on Nov. 6.”
Read the full decision below:
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and 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. Contact Alisha at firstname.lastname@example.org.