Proposal Wants to Make Changes to Constitution Harder
The newly proposed amendment would require future state constitutional changes to have the support of two-thirds of the Missouri general assembly and two-thirds majority of a statewide vote, not just a simple majority like it is now.
Amending the U.S. Constitution is like changing the course of the Big Muddy - it's very difficult to do and takes a lot of people years to accomplish. Amending the Missouri Constitution is more like changing Hinkson Creek - a small group with the right tools could probably do it. At least, that's how one senator sees it.
"Currently, our constitution requires a simple majority to pass a constitutional amendment. This would change it to two-thirds." said Sen. Chuck Gross, R-St. Charles.
Republicans hold 57 percent of the seats in the Missouri general assembly. That's enough to ratify an amendment under the current system, but 10 percent short in Gross' plan.
"We're seeing more and more initiative petitions putting controversial issues on the ballot - being put on the ballot primarily by special interest groups who have a lot of money behind them. And, yet, they lack an overall public consensus," Gross said.
The recently proposed amendment already has bipartisan support.
"When we have an amendment to the constitution, we should make sure that an overwhelming majority of the population is in favor," said Sen. Harry Kennedy, D-St. Louis.
In last November's election, the stem cell research and tax exemption for veterans' organizations amendments would not have passed under Senator Gross' proposal.
The constitutional amendment process in other states ranges from a 3/5 majority in some states to "yes" votes in two straight ballot initiatives in other states.