State lawmakers must follow will of the people

    Associated Press writer David A. Lieb recently had an interesting interview with Missouri Governor Mike Parson. It was interesting in that is should alarm every Missourian because the governor appears to believe Missourians aren’t smart enough to make their own decisions about the issues, something that appears to be a growing trend for politicians across the country.

    Many people may remember that Parson, while he was state senator, successfully pushed to overturn a voter-approved law that would have placed tough restrictions on dog breeders in the state. Eight years later, he now wants to overturn the voters’ wishes on a constitutional amendment revising the way the state’s legislative districts are drawn and make it harder to get initiative petitions on the ballot in the future.
    “Fundamentally, you think when the people vote you shouldn’t be changing that vote,” Parson told the AP. “But the reality of it is that is somewhat what your job is sometimes, if you know something’s unconstitutional, if you know some of it’s not right.”
    Unconstitutional? How can a constitutional amendment be unconstitutional?
    Lieb noted in his story that voters in November “overwhelmingly approved Constitutional Amendment 1 . Dubbed “Clean Missouri” by supporters, the measure limited lobbyist gifts to lawmakers, subjected lawmakers to the state open-records law and changed the process for redrawing legislative districts after the 2020 census.”
    The amendment created a new position of “nonpartisan state demographer” who will draw state House and Senate maps that achieve “partisan fairness” and “competitiveness” by basing them on the votes cast for Republicans and Democrats in previous statewide elections. An AP analysis found the formula is likely to increase Democrats’ chances of winning elections and cut into Republicans’ supermajorities in the state House and Senate. The measure doesn’t change congressional redistricting, which is handled by state lawmakers. Repealing it would require a new measure to be placed before voters.
    “When you start talking about what they proposed in the redistricting, of how do you make districts even, I think that’s so questionable,” Parson told the AP.
    Making districts even (and fair) is questionable?
    And Parson isn’t alone is his beliefs.
    “I think the initiative petition itself, there’s a lot more to it than what the standard person can understand,” said state Sen. Dave Schatz, whom colleagues nominated as the next Senate president pro tem, told Lieb. “I think we’re going to have to get some legal opinions on truly the effects of what Clean Missouri really does.”
    Parson also told the AP that broader changes may be needed to slow the proliferation of citizen ballot initiatives, which he said are used by individuals and groups “with deep pockets” who “have their own agendas that they’re wanting to push.”
    Under current law, to qualify a proposed statute for the ballot, supporters must gather signatures equal to five percent of the votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election in six of the state’s eight congressional districts. For proposed constitutional amendments, that threshold is eight percent. Initiative supporters write their own measures; the secretary of state prepares a summary that appears on petitions and ballots.
    “The bar should be a little higher for how you do one, and I think there definitely should be streamlining in how the language is wrote,” Parson said without going into specifics.
    Poor grammar aside, Parson couldn’t be more wrong. Lawmakers should not be changing the will of the people once they have spoken and they certainly shouldn’t be plotting to make it more difficult for Missourians voices to be heard when our lawmakers won’t take action that needs to be taken.

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