Updated: November 6, 2019

Original: October 4, 2019

You Got the Initiative? Here’s What to Do
The offices of Missouri Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Auditor and County Clerks and Election Authorities throughout the state were overwhelmed during the 2018 election cycle as literally hundreds of Initiative Petitions were filed in attempts to change Missouri’s Constitution or State Statutes. An attempt to place an Initiative Petition in front of voters in either August or November of election years does not always succeed, but sometimes does.

Increasingly, Initiative Petitions are becoming a way to bypass the Missouri General Assembly or to address issues that state legislators don’t wish to address. Initiative Petitions allow Missourians to participate directly in our Democracy.

Through November 4, 2019, some 128 Initiative Petitions had been filed with the Secretary of State’s Office for the 2020 election cycle. Of those 128 petitions, 64 had been approved to circulate, meaning the petition had received final approval from the offices of various statewide officials, and registered voters’ signatures may now be collected on the individual petitions.

Landing Initiative Petitions on the statewide ballot is complicated and can take months, even years, and can create frustration for the interested parties. Lathrop Gage Consulting stands ready to assist you in maneuvering through the process.

Referendum Petition Dropped in August 2019
Referendums are another method of change. Missouri’s Constitution gives citizens the right to veto a state law by referendum.

As an example, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri attempted to push back against the General Assembly when in late May it submitted a referendum petition to the Secretary of State. Missouri’s anti-abortion law (filed as House Bill 126) which was approved during the 2019 legislative session and signed by Governor Mike Parson (R) would be placed before voters, but only if the referendum was certified for circulation and then if more than 100,000 verified signatures were gathered prior to August 28, the date the new law was to go into effect.

However, on August 23, the ACLU and other opponents of the anti-abortion law stopped their efforts to collect the needed signatures, claiming that the SOS and state law did not provide them enough time to do so by August 28.

The referendum battle moved to the courts where a lawsuit was filed in Cole County Circuit Court alleging the laws that allow delay in releasing the referendum’s language violate the state’s Constitution. The signature collection process cannot begin until petitions are certified by the Secretary of State. In effect, state law provides less than 90 days to collect signatures for a referendum, according to the lawsuit.

Initiative Petition Overview
According to state law, the Secretary of State’s office (SOS) oversees all statewide election processes and certifies proposed Initiative Petitions for the ballot. Petitioners first submit proposed petitions to the SOS. The SOS approves the proposed petition’s form and prepares ballot summary language.

The State Auditor’s office becomes involved with each Initiative Petition, preparing a fiscal note (estimating the proposal’s cost, if any, to the state and/or to taxpayers) and a fiscal note summary for the proposed petition. After the official ballot title is certified, petitioners can circulate their proposed petitions and collect signatures from registered voters.

Next, petitioners submit the signatures to the SOS, a process detailed later in this article.

Digging Deeper into the Process
When the SOS receives a proposed petition, a timeline kicks in. The SOS must approve or reject the form of the proposed petition within 15 days after receiving it. The petitioner is informed of the approval or rejection. The SOS then sends a copy of the proposal to the Attorney General and the Auditor.

The proposed petition is posted on the SOS’s website for a minimum 30-day public comment period. Meanwhile, the AG reviews the form and forwards comments to the SOS within 10 days after receiving the proposed petition. The Auditor prepares a fiscal note and a fiscal note summary and forwards it to the AG within 20 days after receiving the proposed petition.

The SOS prepares a proposed ballot summary statement and forwards it to the AG for review within 23 days after approval of the proposed petition’s form. The AG forwards its review to the SOS within 10 days after receiving the proposed ballot summary statement. The AG also forwards its approval or rejection of the fiscal note and the fiscal note summary to the Auditor within 10 days after receiving the proposed fiscal note and fiscal note summary. The Auditor then forwards the fiscal note and fiscal note summary to the SOS.

Within 3 days after receiving the ballot summary statement, approved fiscal note summary and fiscal note, the SOS certifies the official ballot title, which includes the ballot summary statement and fiscal note summary. The official ballot title is then posted on the SOS’s website.

It’s quite a process! However, then the field work really begins!

Circulating the Petition
Any registered Missouri voter can sign an Initiative Petition. Petition circulators, who must be at least 18 years old and registered with the SOS, collect signatures on petition pages that contain the official ballot title and the full and correct text of the proposed measure. Each petition page may only contain signatures of voters from one county. Signatures of voters from counties other than the one designated by the circulator in the upper right-hand corner of the petition page will not be counted.

Note, according to state law: Individuals who sign any name other than their own to any petition; knowingly sign their name more than once for the same measure for the same election; sign knowing that they are not a Missouri registered voter; or knowingly accept or offer money or anything of value to another person in exchange for a signature on a petition may be charged with a class A misdemeanor.

Number of Required Signatures
Initiative Petitions proposing to change State Statutes must be signed by five percent of legal voters in any six of the eight Congressional districts in Missouri.

Initiative Petitions proposing to change the Missouri Constitution must be signed by eight percent of legal voters in any six of the eight Congressional districts.

The “legal voters” requirement is based on the number of votes cast for Missouri Governor at the last general election (2016). For example, the number of signatures required for six of the eight Congressional districts with the lowest number of votes for Governor at the last general election totaled 100,126 signatures for a Statutory Initiative Petition and 160,199 signatures for a Constitutional Initiative Petition (in districts 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8).

Submitting and Checking Signatures
All petitioners must deliver signed petitions to the SOS’s office no less than six months before the election. For the 2020 election cycle, the submission deadline for signatures is 5:00 p.m. on May 4, 2020. After verifying the count of signature pages, the SOS’s office will issue a receipt to the petitioner.

The SOS will inventory every petition page by county. Petition pages are then copied and distributed to local election authorities (County Clerks) for signature verification. Generally, signature verification must be completed, certified, and delivered to the SOS by 5:00 p.m. on the last Tuesday in July prior to the election. For the 2020 election cycle, the deadline is 5:00 p.m. on July 28, 2020.

Issuing the Certificate of Sufficiency
Upon receiving verified signatures from each local election authority, the SOS determines the sufficiency of each petition by tallying the valid signatures. If the office finds that enough valid signatures have been submitted on a petition, the SOS issues a certificate stating that the petition contains a sufficient number of valid signatures to comply with the Missouri Constitution and state law and shall be placed on the ballot.

However, if the office finds an insufficient number of signatures, the SOS issues a certificate stating the reasons for the insufficiency. The certificate must be issued before 5:00 p.m. on the 13th Tuesday prior to the general election or, if the signatures were verified by random sample, two weeks after the date the local election authority certifies the results of the verification, whichever is later.

Lathrop Gage Consulting Can Help You
Any changes to Missouri’s Constitution must be approved by voters as statewide ballot issues. Legislators in the Missouri General Assembly cannot simply pass laws to change the Constitution. However, legislators can propose constitutional changes through Senate or House Joint Resolutions. Like Initiative Petitions, Joint Resolutions that are placed on the statewide ballot must be passed by the voters of Missouri.

Please contact Lathrop Gage Consulting with any questions about the Initiative Petition process or legislative issues in Missouri. Phone us at 573-893-5398 or on our website, www.lathropgageconsult.com.

2020 Initiative Petitions Approved for Circulation in Missouri
The following 64 Initiative Petitions, as of November 4, 2019, have been certified by the Missouri Secretary of State for signature-gathering:

• Constitutional Amendment to Article I, Relating to Collective Bargaining, version 1 2020-012
• Constitutional Amendment to Article I, Relating to Collective Bargaining, version 2 2020-013
• Constitutional Amendment to Article I, Relating to Collective Bargaining, version 3 2020-014
• Constitutional Amendment to Article I, Relating to Collective Bargaining, version 4 2020-015
• Constitutional Amendment to Article I, Relating to Worker Freedom 2020-019
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VI, Relating to Immigration Enforcement 2020-020
• Constitutional Amendment to Article XIV, Section 1, Relating to Removal of Historic Memorials 2020-021
• Constitutional Amendment to Article XIV, Sections 1-5, Relating to Worker Freedom 2020-022
• Constitutional Amendment to Article V, Relating to the Election of Judges, version 1 2020-023
• Constitutional Amendment to Article V, Relating to the Election of Judges, version 2 2020-024
• Constitutional Amendment to Article III, Relating to Election Laws and Initiative Petition Procedures 2020-025
• Statutory Amendment to Chapter 147, Relating to a Corporate Franchise Tax 2020-026
• Statutory Amendment to Chapter 208, Relating to Medicaid Expansion 2020-027
• Constitutional Amendment to Article III, Relating to Election Laws and Initiative Petition Procedures 2020-030
• Constitutional Amendment to Article III, Relating to Election Laws and Initiative Petition Procedures 2020-032
• Constitutional Amendment to Article X, Relating to Personal Property Taxes 2020-038
• Constitutional Amendment to Article III, Relating to General Assembly Composition and Elections, version 2 2020-046
• Statutory Amendment to Chapters 143 & 286, Relating to a Capital Gains Tax for Renewable Energy 2020-049
• Statutory Amendment to Chapter 208, Relating to Medicaid Expansion 2020-053
• Constitutional Amendment to Article I, Relating to Eliminating Daylight Saving Time 2020-055
• Statutory Amendment to Chapter 558, Relating to Prison Terms and Parole 2020-056
• Constitutional Amendment to Article IV, Relating to Medicaid Expansion 2020-063
• Constitutional Amendment to Article XIV, Relating to Marijuana Use and Expunging Cannabis-Related Criminal Records 2020-070
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 1 2020-072
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 2 2020-073
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 3 2020-074
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 4 2020-075
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 5 2020-076
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 6 2020-077
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 7 2020-078
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 8 2020-079
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 9 2020-080
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 10 2020-081
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 11 2020-082
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 12 2020-083
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 1 2020-088
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 2 2020-089
• Statutory Amendment to Chapter 558, Relating to Prison Terms and Parole 2020-092
• Constitutional Amendment to Article III, Section 39, Relating to Local Minimum Wage 2020-093
• Statutory Amendment to Chapter 192, Relating to a State-Run Health Insurance Cooperative 2020-096
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 1 2020-097
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 2 2020-098
• Statutory Amendment to Chapters 130 & 143, Relating to a Missouri Elections Trust Fund 2020-099
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Ranked-Choice Voting 2020-101
• Constitutional Amendment to Article III, Relating to General Assembly Composition and Elections 2020-102
• Constitutional Amendment to Article III, Relating to Citizen Initiatives 2020-103
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 1 2020-105
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 2 2020-106
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 3 2020-107
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 4 2020-108
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 5 2020-109
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 6 2020-110
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 7 2020-111
• Constitutional Amendment to Article VIII, Relating to Voter Registration and Voting Methods, version 8 2020-112
• Statutory Amendment to Chapter 393, Relating to Renewable Energy, version 1 2020-113
• Statutory Amendment to Chapter 393, Relating to Renewable Energy, version 2 2020-114
• Statutory Amendment to Chapter 393, Relating to Renewable Energy, version 3 2020-115
• Statutory Amendment to Chapters 393 & 386, Relating to Renewable Energy, version 4 2020-116
• Constitutional Amendment to Article IX, Relating to Educational Funding, version 1 2020-117
• Constitutional Amendment to Article IX, Relating to Educational Funding, version 2 2020-118
• Constitutional Amendment to Article IX, Relating to Educational Funding, version 3 2020-119
• Constitutional Amendment to Article IX, Relating to Educational Funding, version 4 2020-120
• Constitutional Amendment to Article IX, Relating to Educational Funding, version 1 2020-121
• Constitutional Amendment to Article IX, Relating to Educational Funding, version 2 2020-122