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Missouri House refuses conference on Senate’s constitutional ballot reform item

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(The Center Square) – The day after the Missouri Senate requested a conference with the House to possibly compromise on how voters could change the state constitution, the House sent back the same legislation.

By a vote of 104-45 on Thursday afternoon, the second-to-last day of the 2024 session, the House refused to change its amendments to Senate Joint Resolution 74. The legislation was returned to the House on Wednesday after a two-day filibuster by Democrats to stop the bill.

The legislation would place a proposal on the ballot asking voters to change approval of constitutional amendments from a simple majority to a simple majority and a majority in five of the state’s eight congressional districts. The House added language, called “ballot candy” by both parties, to the measure. The ballot language would start with asking voters if only U.S. citizens should vote on constitutional amendments and forbid foreign countries from funding amendment proposals, both currently illegal. Then, the ballot would ask about changing the majorities for approval.

The House adjourned after the vote and will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday and end at or before 6 p.m., as required by the constitution.

Democrats would probably start another filibuster if the resolution is taken up in the Senate on Friday.

No other legislation was debated in the Senate on Thursday as the routine approval of the journal ended the morning session.

Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, and a candidate for the GOP nomination for governor, submitted an amendment to the journal stating rhinoceroses entered the chamber on Wednesday, referring to the acronym “RINO” for “Republicans In Name Only.” It led to Majority Leader Cindy O’Laughlin immediately adjourning until 1 p.m. When it reconvened in the afternoon, it adjourned shortly thereafter.

That’s when the House was once again debating Senate Joint Resolution 74.

Rep. Barbara Phifer, D-St. Louis, and a candidate for her party’s nomination for secretary of state, questioned Rep. Alex Riley, R-Springfield, and the bill’s handler, about the necessity of the language concerning U.S. citizens voting and possible foreign interference.

“As I said on the floor and as I have said numerous times, I don’t have specific data or a scenario where this has happened,” Riley said. “However, I do think that there’s a possibility that it could.”

Rep. Joe Adams, D-University City, said the legislation proposes reducing voters in Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia and Springfield into a fraction of a voter.

“Wouldn’t that be a great campaign slogan to throw at the majority party, that what you want to do is turn good Missourians into three-fifths of a voter,” Adams said. “That is a failing proposition.”

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