The Missouri House Is Back, And They’re Coming For Your Voice

Progress MO

Last Wednesday, the Missouri State House convened for their 2023 session, rolling out a slate of more than 600 proposed bills. In the throughline of their legislative priorities, the House made it abundantly clear that their number one problem is your power.

13+ Bills Breaking the Ballot Initiative Process

The House has seen our success in passing meaningful, progressive reforms like blocking Right-to-Work, raising the minimum wage, and legalizing marijuana through statewide ballot initiatives. And like an indignant child losing a game on the playground, when the House doesn’t like the results, they’ll just change the rules.

The House’s goal is to make it harder to put any initiative on the ballot in the first place, and when that fails, they want to make it harder to pass the initiatives that sneak through. Any number of reforms are up for discussion, including:

  • Requiring a two-thirds majority vote to pass ballot initiatives
  • Mandating a majority of registered voters vote to pass ballot initiatives, instead of a majority of voters in that election
  • Needing up to 15% of the registered voters in each Congressional district to sign the petition to land on the ballot

Making It Harder to Vote

In case stripping our ballot initiative process isn’t enough, the Missouri House is ready to make it harder for you to vote for candidates, too.

First, legislators in Jefferson City want to close our primaries, meaning you can’t participate in a primary election unless you register with a party 23 weeks before the election. To participate in general elections in Missouri, you only need to register 4 weeks before the election. Extending the deadline for primary elections is a blatant attempt by the state legislature to limit who is participating in our elections. They don’t want real Missourians calling the shots.

The most blatant disregard for voting rights in this year’s bills comes from HB 691, which would require Missourians voting by mail to pay for their own postage. That’s right: if you need to vote by mail, the Missouri House wants you to pay for it. Our power comes from our vote, and politicians who want to protect their own interests shouldn’t be allowed to make us pay for it.

Making Our Government Less Transparent

Finally, and least shocking of all, our friends in Jefferson City are doing everything in their power to keep you in the dark about what’s going on in the Capitol. Two bills on the docket in the House are designed to make records about themselves and their friends less accessible to the public. 

Not only are they working to increase the costs of records themselves; they are adding more and more kinds of records to the “exceptions” list that can be kept private. Even some records about legislation will be kept in the dark and out of the public eye.

The Bottom Line

In a democracy, your vote is your power, and Missouri’s lawmakers are terrified of the power real Missourians have to push for change and improve our lives. They’re fighting to make it harder for us to fix the problems we face every day. Missouri voters have a right to know what’s really happening in Jefferson City and for their voices to be heard.

Posted January 10, 2023