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Voter rights group opposes initiative petition reform supported by Missouri Republicans


A large group of lobbyists and Missourians came to the Missouri Capitol on Tuesday to show their opposition to proposed changes to the initiative petition process.

Republicans have prioritized initiative petition reform for the past few years but failed to get a bill across the finish line each time. The party wants to raise the threshold for passing a ballot referendum -- it's currently a simple majority. The Freedom Caucus, which has largely been the group to stall Senate work this year, has also identified initiative petition reform as a priority.

The House Committee on Elections meets Tuesday to hear three resolutions also on initiative petition reform. Denise Lieberman, with the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, said the efforts to make it more difficult to change the Missouri Constitution are meant to silence voters.

"The citizen initiative process gives all Missourians a voice on issues that they care about, even if those issues are not top priorities of their legislators," Lieberman said.

However, Republicans on the Elections Committee supported the measures.

"You're not opposed to changes being made to the Constitution, but if we are going to make changes, we want changes to our state constitution -- our most sacred governing document as a state -- to have broad support across the state," said Rep. Alex Riley (R-Springfield).

The Missouri Senate never adjourned on Monday. Instead, senators filibustered overnight and continued to meet until 10 a.m. Tuesday. All Tuesday Senate committees were canceled by 8 a.m., except for the Local Elections Committee, which was set to vote on initiative petition resolutions discussed Monday.

Many Republicans have expressed concern that an initiative petition currently gathering signatures on reproductive rights would pass and allow abortions in Missouri once more if the process is not changed.

"I think abortion will be allowed because they'll put it on the ballot in a referendum, and if you don't pass IP (initiative petition) reform, it'll be 50% plus one. I don't believe in changing the Constitution that easily," Missouri House Speaker Rep. Dean Plocher (R-St. Louis County) said on the last day of this year's legislative session.

Article Topic Follows: Your Voice Your Vote

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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