The Missouri Legislature just concluded session. It can be difficult to keep up with the many changes and shifts that occur in our state’s Capitol. Everyone is aware of the nationally publicized house bill 126 that limits abortions at eight weeks from conception. This is a blatant attempt to restrict women’s right to choose; it also goes gives no exception for instances of rape or incest.
Additionally, during the recent session attempts were made to undo the will of the citizens with the attempted passage of House Joint Resolutions 48, 47, and 46. It began as an attempt to change the rules of the House of Representatives, with each resolution aimed to change the Clean Missouri Amendment. These are only a few examples of where our legislators have failed us. The citizens’ ability to alter the Missouri Constitution by the ballot petition process is vital in picking up where our legislators fail us.
Back in November 2018 city/county voters marched to the polls to send a loud and clear message to our legislators. That message was that we the people want and won’t accept anything less than transparent government, lobbyist gifts lowered, campaign contribution limits, and a fair process for redistricting. Across the state, Amendment 1 passed by 68 percent. Locally St. Louisans voted overwhelmingly in favor of the changes.
Similarly to Amendment 1 citizens voted to increase the states’ minimum wage to $12 an hour. Over 60 percent of Missouri Voters voted in favor of Proposition B. The passage of the proposition means that the minimum wage was set at $8.60 per hour and would increase yearly until reaching $12 per hour by 2023. Despite the voters’ attempt to enact a livable wage, House Bill 763 has been progressing through the legislature. This bill seeks to exempt private school teachers from the minimum wage increases. Teachers and school workers are severely underpaid and they look after our children. The bill has passed out of the House and you can look forward to hearing about this once the Senate is back during the second half of session.
The house joint resolutions that passed in the House sought to make subtle changes. The original Amendment 1 created the nonpartisan redistricting commission; the resolution replaces it with a bipartisan redistricting commission. It offers an all-out lobbyist gift ban instead of the original less than $5 gift ban and completely changes the way we draw districts. Although the general assembly is not constitutionally able to undo Clean Missouri without putting it on the ballot again, I feel it is unnecessary to change Clean Missouri before we get the chance to see how it works in its current form. Fortunately, the string of house joint resolutions by state Representative Dean Plocher (R-St. Louis County) stalled in committee after being referred to the Senate.
Every time you step foot into a voting booth it is not about getting one of those fancy voting stickers. Each time we hope that legislators will stay true to the citizens. In times when they fail, you must understand not to give up. Citizens must remain vigilant and engaged in the process. Do not just sit there feeling defeated; ask, “What can I do about it now?”
Although it is likely that House Bill 126 will be signed by Governor Parson; call to voice your stance on the restrictive bill and request he veto House Bill 126. His office can be reached at P.O. Box 720 Jefferson City, MO 65102, (573) 751-3222.
As House Bill 763 makes its way through the Senate, call and urge your state senators to oppose the bill. If you reside in the 5th Senate District, contact (573) 751-4415, Jamilah.Nasheed@Senate.mo.gov; if you are in the 4th Senate District, contact (573)751-3599 Karla.May@Senate.mo.gov.
For more information on ballot measures or initiative petitions contact the Secretary of State’s office at (573)751-4936.
Marty Joe Murray Jr. was elected in 2016 as the Democratic Committeeman in the 7th Ward and currently chairs the 1st Congressional District Committee.