St. Louis Today

The Missouri House has approved legislation aimed at increasing the transparency of initiative petitions that bypass the Legislature to put proposed laws or constitutional amendments on statewide ballots.

Sponsors of the petitions must gather signatures from registered voters for their proposal to qualify for the ballot.

Under the House legislation, the secretary of state’s office would offer a public comment period after a proposal is submitted. For those proposals that actually qualify for the ballot, the Joint Committee on Legislative Research would hold a public hearing.

Still smarting over state voters’ approval of strict dog-breeding rules in 2010, some Missouri legislators want to bar future initiative petition drives from dealing with agricultural issues.

The House voted Thursday to place on the November 2014 ballot a constitutional amendment that would guarantee “the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices.” Under the proposal, only the General Assembly could write laws regulating “livestock production and ranching practices.”

The House passed the amendment on a vote of 110-41. It now moves to the Senate.