JEFFERSON CITY - People who fraudulently sign petitions for ballot initiatives could face stiffer penalties under legislation given initial approval by the Missouri Senate.
A bill endorsed Wednesday by senators would make the crime of petition signature fraud a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of between $1,000 and $25,000.
Violators currently can face a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The legislation also expands the crime to cover petition circulators who use trickery to obtain signatures or who knowingly submit forms with false signatures.
Charges also could be filed against those who hire petition circulators and should have known that the circulators were committing fraud.