JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Three initiative petitions are currently open for public comment with Secretary of State Jason Kander’s office – one regarding marijuana legalization and two regarding ethics reform.
Before circulation, state law requires groups first have their petition approved by the office before waiting 23 days for draft ballot summary language.
The comment period is open for a minimum of 30 days and Missourians can send their feedback to the office online, via mail or phone. Comments are reviewed in the process of the drafting of summary ballot language.
Before reaching the ballot, initiative petitioners must collect signatures of 20% of registered voters who voted in the previous gubernatorial election in 6 of the 8 congressional districts. The signatures are verified by the secretary of state’s office.
Successful initiative petitions will go onto the 2016 ballot.
Show-Me Cannabis Regulation submitted 2016-001, the first initiative petition of the cycle. The organization, based in Columbia, filed a petition, which, if approved by voters, would regulate legalization of marijuana for licensed Missourians ages 21 and older. The initiative petition lays out growth and possession, licensure, taxation, and penalization rules of activity surrounding the localized economy that the petition would create in Missouri. The organization and state NORML chapters plan to start collecting signatures in January, according to their websites.
The second and third initiative petitions currently open for public comment are regarding ethics reform. 2016-002 is self-dubbed as the “Missouri Campaign Contribution Reform Initiative” and would cap private campaign contributions and would prohibit labor and corporate donations without a political committee, tiered by the office sought. The 10-page petition was submitted by an individual with Republican ties.
Four-page 2016-005 was submitted by Democratic legal operative, Brad Ketcher. The initiative petition calls for a cooling off period for legislators before they become lobbyists, caps lobbyist gifts to legislators or legislative staff, makes legislative records public, bans fundraising on state property, bans legislators and legislative staff from working as a paid employee or consultant to campaigns, and caps political campaign contributions. The limitations on campaign contributions apply to “any natural person or independent entity other than the candidate” with no mention of additional labor or corporate limitations.
Kander instituted the public comment process, which included posting the proposed initiative petition online as soon as its form was approved, in an effort to make the process more accessible and transparent for Missourians. This process has been expanded to post the petition within 24 hours after it is received.
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.