JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are considering a bill that places restrictions on the initiative petition process, but federal courts are questioning the regulations’ constitutionality.
The bill heard last week includes four new regulations. Petition circulators would be required to wear a name tag indicating whether they are paid, and they wouldn’t be allowed to get paid based on the number of signatures gathered. Circulators would also have to be residents of Missouri and registered voters, the Columbia Missourian reported .
“If you’re going to influence how business in Missouri is conducted, you should be a resident of Missouri,” said Republican Rep. Jay Houghton, who proposed the bill.
The small individual regulations on the petition process are constitutional, but not as a package, said Woody Cozad, a lobbyist and former chairman of the Missouri Republican Party.
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“Inch by inch, we are getting rid of the initiative petition,” he said.
Cozad said the biggest threat to the initiative petition is to ban paying petition circulators by the signature.
But Republican Rep. Nick Marshall said paying circulators by the signature results in “badgering.” Marshall, of Parkville, also expressed concern about the ethics of such a profit model, comparing it to paying judges by the warrant.
Federal courts across the country have challenged the legality of such regulations. Houghton said the courts will decide if his bill is constitutional.
Information from: Columbia Missourian, http://www.columbiamissourian.com