JEFFERSON CITY, MO – State Senator Scott Sifton (D – Affton) today put forward a measure to protect the will of the voters by making it harder for the Legislature to weaken, reverse or change laws put in place by a vote of the people. This action follows pledges made by some legislators to reverse several decisions made by Missouri voters in recent elections.
“Already, some legislators in Jefferson City have spoken openly about reversing the public’s decision to protect workers’ rights, implement ethics reform, and stop gerrymandering,” said Sen. Sifton. “If legislators won’t listen to Missouri voters, then we must take steps to protect the will of the people.”
Under Senate Joint Resolution 16, filed by Sen. Sifton, any piece of legislation that changes a measure already passed by voters would require the approval of two-thirds of the General Assembly, rather than the current simple majority for two years following the people’s vote. Senate Joint Resolutions do not require the signature of the governor; if passed by the Missouri General Assembly, SJR 16 would appear on the ballot as a constitutional amendment for voters to approve or reject.
In August of last year, Missouri voters rejected the so-called Right-to-Work law by 67 percent. However, Senate Bill 63, pending now before the Missouri Senate, would ignore the voters’ decision and implement a Right-to-Work law in Missouri. Currently, only 18 votes in the Senate would be needed to pass SB 63. Under the proposal put forward by Sen. Sifton, a higher and more difficult threshold of 23 votes would be needed.
In November of this year, Missouri voters approved comprehensive ethics reform through Clean Missouri with 62 percent of the vote. Recently, despite this clear public mandate, Republican leaders have spoken openly about changing the anti-gerrymandering provision within Clean Missouri.
Voters also recently passed a new law slowly raising the minimum wage, and a separate measure legalizing medical cannabis. Additionally, Missouri voters defeated the governor’s proposal to raise Missouri’s gas tax. All of these voter-approved or defeated measures could be reversed by the General Assembly with a simple majority vote in each chamber.
Overturning the will of the people would not be unprecedented for the Missouri General Assembly. In 2010, Missouri voters passed Proposition B to prevent animal abuse by raising the standards for dog breeders. The Legislature repealed some of these provisions in the following legislative session.