Appeals court allows Clean Missouri measure to stay on November ballot

3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 2:53:00 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
By: Brendon Baker, KOMU 8 Digital Producer and Stephanie Hamann, KOMU 8 Reporter
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KANSAS CITY - The Missouri Western District Court of Appeals ruled Friday to allow the Clean Missouri Initiative to stay on the November ballot.

The decision sets the stage for a Nov. 6 vote on the initiative, also known as Amendment One. 

The amendment aims to make the Missouri legislature more transparent. 

If passed on Nov. 6, the amendment would make the following changes, according to cleanmissouri.org: 

  • eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly

  • require legislative records be open to the public

  • lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates

  • require politicians to wait two years if they want to become lobbyists

  • ensure neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census, by adding criteria for fairness and competitiveness of the overall map, which will be reviewed by a citizen commission and keep compact and contiguous districts 

Clean Missouri Communications Director Ben Singer said of Friday's decision in a statement, "We are glad the judges saw through the frivolous arguments of the lobbyists who are terrified of letting Missourians vote on Amendment 1. Reformers across the political spectrum support cleaning up Missouri politics and will be voting yes this November."

Singer said Clean Missouri proponents are active throughout Missouri ahead of the vote. Clean Missouri has a "volunteer army of 1,500-plus volunteers," Singer said.

"People are knocking doors, phone-banking, holding forums, educating the public about why Amendment 1 is so important to clean up our state politics," Singer said. 

Daniel Mehan, President and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, expressed his displeasure with the decision in a statement. 

“We are disappointed in today’s appeals court decision which makes it more likely Missouri voters will have to decide a deceptive, poorly-drafted amendment," Mehan said. "Today’s decision not only keeps Amendment 1 on the November ballot, it also lowers the bar for the process we use to alter our state constitution."

Mehan said he will ask the Missouri Supreme Court to consider taking up the case.

"If Amendment 1 does end up on the ballot, we will work alongside the growing coalition of opponents to educate Missouri voters about how this activist effort could lead to a radical shift in priorities in the Missouri General Assembly, bringing higher taxes and more bureaucratic regulation," Mehan said.

Justin Arnold, General Counsel for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, echoed this disappointment.

"I think it's important that Missouri voters know what they're voting on," Arnold said. "The way the amendment was drafted was done in such a way that it will confuse voters and they won't really know that they're actually voting on a fundamental and radical change to the electoral process in Missouri."

Arnold said proponents of Amendment 1 currently have no power in Missouri.

"They're not able to win elections or get anything done through the legislature, and so they're trying to do a run-around of the process by trying to redistrict more favorable legislators that will vote for the things that they want," Arnold said.

Singer touted the amendment's bipartisan support.

"Amendment 1 was signed by more than 300,000 Missourians, and has earned the endorsement of Republican, Democratic and Independent reformers from across the state," Singer said.

Mehan is urging voters to vote no on Clean Missouri.

"We will ask Missourians to vote ‘no’ on Amendment 1 so that we can continue our progress toward making our state business-friendly and competitive for growth,” Mehan said.

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