Senate committee passes bill to 'streamline' petition process
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Senate committee passes bill to 'streamline' petition process

Date: February 22, 2010
By: Martin Swant
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - A bill passed the Senate Elections Committee Monday that would "streamline" the petition process.

Missouri's constitution provides residents of the state with the ability to propose laws and amend the constitution.

But Sen. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis County, said he's had several constituents who are aggravated by the petition process.

"I believe that this process is currently being frustrated under our current statutes that allow the process to be slowed down," he said.

Lembke said the bill would "streamline" the petition process for the offices of the secretary of state, attorney general and auditor. The bill would modify regulations for each of the three state offices in order to make the courses of action more efficient.

Because there's a restricted time frame between the date of filing and the day of voting, any halt in the process quickly diminishes the number of days to collect signatures, Lembke said.

"Every month or every day that you lose impedes upon your efforts to make your voice or the people's voice heard," he said.

Lembke said under current statute opponents to an initiative or referendum petition can file a lawsuit against it over aspects such as clarity of a petition's title, preventing petitioners from gathering signatures during the ongoing lawsuit.

The bill would also place limits on the number of days the auditor has to create a fiscal note for a bill.

Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Jackson County, opposed the bill, citing she understands the need to address the process but disagrees with details of the bill.

"I think we're taking a look at it from the wrong angle," she said.


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