Summary of the Committee Version of the Bill


HCS HB 1869 -- INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM PETITIONS


SPONSOR: Dugger


COMMITTEE ACTION: Voted "do pass" by the Committee on Elections

by a vote of 10 to 0.


This substitute changes the laws regarding initiative and

referendum petitions. In its main provisions, the substitute:


(1) Prohibits a person who has been convicted of, found guilty

of, or pled guilty to an offense involving forgery under the laws

of Missouri or an offense in any other jurisdiction that would be

considered forgery if committed in Missouri from qualifying as a

petition circulator;


(2) Requires a person collecting signatures for an initiative or

referendum petition to indicate whether or not he or she is being

compensated by predominantly displaying a sign or button stating

that information. Any violation of this provision will be an

infraction subject to a penalty of not less than $100 but not

more than $500;


(3) Specifies that any person who knowingly signs any name other

than his or her own to any petition will, upon conviction, be

guilty of a class one election offense which is a felony.

Currently, any person who signs any name other than his or her

own to any petition is guilty of a class A misdemeanor; 


(4) Allows any person who submits a petition to the Secretary of

State to withdraw the petition upon written notice;


(5) Requires the Joint Committee on Legislative Research to hold

a public hearing in Jefferson City on a ballot measure within 30

days of the Secretary of State’s certification to place the

ballot measure on the ballot. The hearing will take public

testimony in support and in opposition to the contents of the

petition;


(6) Requires the Secretary of State to post the full text of

proposed ballot measures within two days of its receipt and the

name of the submitting person or organization. A violation of

this provision will be a violation of the Open Records and

Meetings Law, commonly known as the Sunshine Law;


(7) Reduces the time that the Secretary of State has to approve

or disapprove the form of a ballot measure from 30 days to 15

days after its submission; and


(8) Requires a person submitting a sample sheet to also submit at least 1,000 but no more than 2,000 signatures to the Secretary

of State to place a proposal on the ballot. If the Secretary of

State verifies that at least 1,000 signatures are valid by

sending them to the election authorities to be verified, then the

proposal will be approved. The Secretary of State verifies

signatures by sending them within five days to the election

authorities who have 15 days to reply. The Secretary of State

then has 10 days to prepare a summary statement. Signatures

obtained prior to the date the official title is certified by the

Secretary of State cannot be counted.


The provision of the substitute requiring the Joint Committee on

Legislative Research to conduct a public hearing contains an

emergency clause.


FISCAL NOTE: Estimated Net Cost on General Revenue Fund of

$35,750 in FY 2013, FY 2014, and FY 2015. No impact on Other

State Funds in FY 2013, FY 2014, and FY 2015.


PROPONENTS: Supporters say that the bill will increase security

and transparency in the petition signature process by enhancing

penalties for fraud and requiring a public hearing on a petition.

Currently, 140 or more petitions are submitted each year and the

process is in need of regulation.


Testifying for the bill were Representative Dugger; Missouri

Chamber of Commerce; Missouri Municipal League; Missouri

Association of Counties; Missouri Farm Bureau; Missouri

Restaurant Association; and Missouri National Education

Association.


OPPONENTS: Those who oppose the bill say that it makes it more

difficult for grassroots organizations to submit petitions while

allowing those with money to have continued access to the ballot

process because they can pay people to collect the signatures.

Adding a new signature requirement prior to circulation increases

the complexity of the process and unacceptably shortens the time

frame.


Testifying against the bill was Ron Calzone, Missouri First.


OTHERS: Others testifying on the bill say that the number of

petitions is increasing drastically and a new signature

requirement might help reduce the number of submissions. It

might be good to remove the fiscal note requirement for ballot

measures. The badge requirement indicating which signature

collectors are paid may be unconstitutional.


Others testifying on the bill were Office of the Secretary of

State; and United for Missouri.


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