Missouri’s Battle On Initiative Rights
Yesterday, Citizens in Charge Foundation President Paul Jacob was in Missouri testifying against House Bill 228. The legislation would harm the initiative and referendum process by imposing a residency restriction, banning the payment of petition circulators on a per signature basis and prohibiting citizens from carrying more than one petition at a time.
Similar restrictions have been struck down repeatedly all across the country as unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment rights of citizens. Jacob called the bill “the most facially unconstitutional bill proposed anywhere in the nation this year.” He told legislators that if HB 228 is passed, it will be challenged and overturned in court, thus “[handing] Missouri taxpayers a whopping legal bill to boot.”
Ron Calzone with Missouri First and Missouri Citizens for Property Rights led off the testimony against the bill. “This is supposed to be the people’s process…this bill, I’m afraid, will make it only possible for the wealthy and the well-connected, or people with large organizations like perhaps labor unions, to get it done,” Calzone said.
A number of citizens also testified in opposition to HB 228 at the hearing, as did representatives of the Missouri ACLU, the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative and Americans for Prosperity-Missouri.
Speaking in favor of restricting the petition rights of Missouri citizens were lobbyists with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the Missouri chapter of the NEA, the Missouri Municipal League, the Missouri Restaurant Association, the Missouri League of Women Voters, the Missouri Farm Bureau, and the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association.