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HJR 43.

Dan Houx (r) [2018 file photo].

From an email communication to his constituents:

Protecting the Constitution – HJR 43 is designed to protect the state constitution from the influence of out-of-state interests by allowing voters to decide if the state should raise the threshold to modify the constitution in the future. The measure would change the threshold required to approve changes to the state constitution. Currently, changes to the constitution require only a simple majority for approval. If approved by the legislature and voters, HJR 43 would raise the threshold to 60 percent voter approval for passage.

Proponents say the increased threshold will help minimize the influence of out-of-state groups that have no ties to Missouri but spend millions of dollars to change the state constitution. The sponsor of HJR 43 said the groups “try to reimagine Missouri in their vision.” He said, “I think it should be in the vision of the people of the state of Missouri.”

If you’re worried about wealthy interests (in-state and/or out-of-state) exerting undue influence in our elections when they spend millions of dollars trying to overwhelm voters with bullshit ads and mailings then do something about campaign finance reform, fool.

This resolution is just right wingnut dogma geared to gutting the ballot initiative process in Missouri. It’s embarrassing.

A small sample of the witness statements on HJR 43 submitted to the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee:

This proposed amendment is unnecessary, harmful, and misleading. It would lead to MORE out-of-state money affecting our ballot initiatives. It reduces the ability for the will of the people to be our supreme law. Also, the dog-whistle about only citizens voting is the exact kind of unnecessary addition to the state constitution your side claims to want to keep out of the constitution.

I am against changing the initiative process. It works, (witness Hancock amendment, right to farm, the conservation department). Proposed attempts to increase necessary percentages will effectively kill the ability of citizens to directly participate in democracy. This is a transparent effort to subvert the will of the majority of the people of Missouri. Leave it alone.

Notwithstanding that the Hancock Amendment was, and still is, a huge mistake and the Right to Farm was a ridiculous gesture.

This bill makes it more difficult to place and pass measures on a ballot. The people have a right to be heard in the simplest manner possible.

You’d think.

We should not be making it harder for Missourians to get things they want passed in our state. We have passed so many good things the last few years using this process. It’s awesome that these have had bipartisan voter support as well. Making it harder for voters to have their voices heard is unconstitutional and Un-American. If our legislators can’t get the job done then we should be able to get things on the ballot ourselves and lawmakers should not be making it harder for us to so

I believe these proposed limitations of the MO people’s ideas and voices all head the wrong direction. I think voters’ voices should be stronger and easier to become law, not harder with more obstacles, as these proposed rules are attempting.

The right wingnut controlled General Assembly considers that a feature, not a bug.

As a citizen of Missouri and an activist who has spent countless hours encouraging people to vote, I strongly oppose any legislation that makes it more difficult for Missouri citizens to get initiatives on the ballot and/or create higher thresholds for passing ballot initiatives. Missouri’s initiative petition process has been used to represent the will of the people ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE. This is the only recourse Missourians have when our public servants fail to address issues that are important to us. The current system which entails getting hundreds of thousand of votes to be considered for the ballot is already rigorous (as it should be). Have you ever stood on a street corner or knocked doors in an effort to get support for a cause or a candidate (or for yourself?) I imagine many of you have and thus you understand how hard you work for every issue, for every vote, for every signature. One can easily extrapolate that to the already complex and lengthy process it takes to obtain signatures for a statewide ballot initiative. In other words, it’s already difficult- we don’t need you to make it more so. If Republican legislators continue to support and eventually pass this legislation, they will reap what they sow. An electorate who will easily identify that their Republican legislators have upended the Missouri Constitution in an attempt to weaken the influence of the very people who put them in Jeff City

The initiative petition process is amongst the purest forms of democratic participation. For more than a century, Missouri citizens across the political spectrum have been able to have their voices heard through the initiative petition process. The Missouri constitution guarantees: “The people reserve power to propose and enact or reject laws and amendments to the constitution by the initiative, independent of the general assembly.” The process already requires a high threshold of signatures from registered voters to get a proposal on the ballot. Missourians across the political spectrum have used and benefited from the citizen initiative process. Measures passed by a majority – as is currently the case – reflect the will of the people. Making it more difficult – as these bills do – undermines the will of the people. Representatives should e supporting the will of the people – that’s what we elected you for.

I oppose this change to the initiative petition process because it makes it more difficult for Missourians to engage in direct democracy. The recent legislature is notorious for not considering the will of the people and passing policy that harms Missourians in need of workplace protections, social services, and full and fair access to elections. These bills expand our long help practice of majority rule that is defined as 50% plus one. Placing higher thresholds for getting initiative petitions on the ballot and passing ballot measures into law limits the will of the people. It is already extremely difficult, time consuming, and costly to get initiatives on the ballot. Majority rule in Missouri should be maintained and defined as it always has, equal to or greater than half votes cast.

Campaign Finance reform anyone?

Outrageous. Republicans in this state are out of control. Reign it in please.

We already knew that.

Ballot initiatives engage Missourians directly into the democratic process, increase civic participation and investment, and most importantly, give citizens a voice in the policies that govern our lives. Limiting this process is anti-democratic, plain and simple. I oppose this bill.

[….] I have been a volunteer collecting signatures on initiative petitions for the last 40 years. I have worked on campaigns that won, and on campaigns that lost. But I would say that all my work has been successful in that it promoted citizen voter awareness of issues and provided an opportunity for voters to have a direct voice about policies that affect them. I highly value the fact that since 1907 the Missouri Constitution has guaranteed the power of the people to propose and “enact or reject laws” independent of the General Assembly. This House Joint Resolution seeks to weaken that power. Voters from across the political spectrum: conservatives, progressives, moderates and independents have used this important tool of direct democracy. Collecting the required number of signatures is already a difficult undertaking. I have collected signatures in blistering heat and biting cold. I (along with hundreds of others) have spent hours talking to voters outside grocery stores, churches, fish fries, schools, elections, at parades and sports events. I say this not to ask for sympathy, but to underscore how important the tools of direct democracy are to me and to all Missourians. Creating more rigorous standards regarding the numbers of signatures needed, and raising the bar for what constitutes a majority, weaken the voices of the people. These proposed changes shift power toward elected officials and the special interests who court their favor. This is taking Missouri in the wrong direction. I urge you to protect the Constitutional rights of Missourians and vote NO. Thank you for this opportunity to share my perspective.

Participatory Democracy will become a faint memory, if that.