House passes reforms to initiative petition process

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House gave their stamp of approval to a bill altering the initiative petition process.

In a 104-42 vote, the chamber sent to the Senate Rep. Dan Shaul’s HCB 10 upping the requirement for filing an initiative petition.

The measure would require a $350 refundable fee for filing an initiative petition with the office of the Missouri secretary of state The fee is refunded if the petition is authorized to appear on the ballot within the two year period after a summary statement is prepared for the petition. It also imposes an additional $25 per page filing fee for initiative petitions in excess of 10 pages.

Provisions added to the bill during perfection include allowing each political party to submit a list of election judge candidates, providing a word count on ballot measures, and the “selfie rule,” which decriminalizes the act of taking photographs of a ballot.

Proponents argue the bill is needed to scale back the number of so-called frivolous initiative petitions and to improve the election process as a whole. 

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is backing changes to the process.

“I think this is a process we can make better, we can make more secure, without taking away the ability of the people to petition,” said Ashcroft previously told the Missouri Times. “This ability to redress the government for grievances is important.”

Opponents argued against modifying changes to initiative petitions, lamenting the idea of making the process more difficult for Missourians and limiting the ability for them to participate in the process. It was noted the changes could limit grassroots involvement.

“I believe any burden on the initiative petition process is a burden too much,” said Rep. Judy Morgan.