(The Center Square) – Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey will appeal a judge’s Tuesday order approving cost estimates for petitions to get a constitutional amendment restoring abortion rights on the ballot in Missouri.
“We will be appealing the ruling,” Madeline Sieren, deputy press secretary for the attorney general, said in an email to The Center Square.
At the end of a 28-page ruling issued on Tuesday, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetem gave Bailey 24 hours to approve the 11 fiscal note summaries he received from Republican Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick on March 29.
“As someone who is steadfastly pro-life, I am personally opposed to these ballot initiatives and the taking of innocent lives,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “However, I firmly believe my personal stance cannot and should not impact the duty my office has to provide voters with an unbiased assessment of each measure’s fiscal impact. I appreciate the decision of the court to uphold the process that has been in place for decades so my office can continue to create fiscal notes that are as fair and accurate as possible.”
Fitzpatrick followed procedures dating back at least a decade to determine the possible cost to taxpayers if the ballot initiatives passed, according to Beetem’s ruling. Out of more than 60 state and local governments, only Greene County stated an impact of $51,000 from the anticipated abortion of approximately 135 future citizens.
In April, Bailey sent 11 identical letters to the secretary of state stating each initiative was unconstitutional and would create “a substantial cost to the state, asserting his belief the state stood to lose up to $12.5 billion in federal Medicaid funding,” Beetem wrote. Days later, he sent the same letters to Fitzpatrick, stating he should have used the Greene County analysis on each of the state’s 114 counties. Bailey also believed Fitzpatrick should have included verbatim responses from opponents of the initiative, who claimed the economic cost would be as high as $6.9 trillion.
In late April, Bailey approved the 11 summary statements for the initiatives, but in early May he again refused to approve the fiscal notes for each.
Beetem heard arguments in early June. In his ruling, he called the situation “preposterous” and said it could lead “to perpetual requests for revision and delaying the Relator to exercise her constitutional right to initiative petition in perpetuity.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri took legal action against Bailey, Fitzpatrick and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft after a deadline was missed to move the ballot initiatives forward.
“In recent months, the Attorney General has unveiled a reckless desire to impose his will on Missourians’ access to health care by violating the constitutional bounds the people of the state have granted the office to which he was appointed,” Tony Rothert, director of integrated advocacy at the ACLU of Missouri, said in a statement. “His illegal actions have obstructed the statutorily prescribed timeline twice over, showing a depth of antipathy towards our right to direct democracy in an attempt to prevent Missourians from voting for their reproductive freedom.”