JEFFERSON CITY — Citizens wanting to change the Missouri Constitution could find it more difficult to get initiatives on the ballot under a proposal endorsed Wednesday by a Republican-led state House committee.
The proposed constitutional amendment, which would go before voters later this year, would require initiative sponsors to gather a certain number of signatures from registered voters in each of the state's congressional districts instead of the current threshold of two-thirds of the districts.
Once those signatures are gathered, the initiative would be submitted to the Legislature, which could approve, change or reject the measure. If initiative sponsors choose to go forward with the version approved by the Legislature, the measure would need a basic majority vote of the people to pass, which is the current threshold. But if initiative sponsors press ahead with a version not approved by the Legislature, it would need a two-thirds vote of the people to take effect.
The House elections committee advanced the proposal on a party-line vote, with all four Republicans present in support of it and both Democrats present in opposition.
Republicans hold large majorities in both the Missouri House and Senate. The proposal comes after Democratic-aligned groups backed successful initiative petition drives in 2018 to increase the state's minimum wage and change the criteria for redrawing state legislative districts.
Missouri is one of 18 states that allow citizen initiatives to propose constitutional amendments. Just two of those states, Massachusetts and Mississippi, have provisions allowing the Legislature to weigh in on the proposals before they go to the ballot.