Political reform group submits petition to change Missouri's constitution

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JEFFERSON CITY - Political reform group Clean Missouri submitted a petition with more than 346,000 signatures to the state secretary's office. It calls for a constitutional amendment to address a number of campaign ethics issues.

Callaway County resident Jeff Jones said, "It means a lot to me, and to our family, and to our county, and to our state."

According to Clean Missouri's website, the group created the petition to create a "state government that is open and accountable to the people — not beholden to special interests." 

If passed the proposed amendment would do seven things: create a new process for drawing voting districts; change limits on campaign contributions; establish limits on gifts state legislatures can receive from lobbyists; prohibit legislatures from becoming lobbyists for a period of time; prohibit political fundraising on state property; and require legislative records and proceedings to be open to the public.

Benjamin Singer, the group's communications director, said, "We care about passing Clean Missouri because right now lobbyists, big donors and small groups of political insiders have too much power in Missouri government."

In November of 2017, the state lowered the limit on campaign contributions down to $2,600. Clean Missouri wants to lower it $2,500 for senators and $2,000 for representatives.

Some people who signed the petition said they felt like state government has ignored them. They said they believe the amendment will help give them a voice in politics again.

Springfield resident Laura Umphenour said, "We will be excited about being a part of our government, and how we are going to direct Missouri in the future." 

The petition now goes to local election authorities for signature verification. If at least 175,000 are verified, the measure will be place on the ballot. The petition will also go up on the secretary of state's website for public comment.

Kansas City resident Martin Tennant said, "I'm very interested to see that feedback. I think there's a lot of support and sympathy for this measure."

Clean Missouri says it will cost the state roughly $189,000 per year to enforce the petition if passed. The group also said local governments will not be impacted.

The state secretary's office will announce on Aug. 14 whether the petition made the November ballot.