Under the Dome – May 3

Under the Dome graphic with Missouri State Capitol Dome in background

Welcome back to Under the Dome, your weekly update on the goings-on of the Missouri state legislature.

Missourians unite to improve future when politicians refuse to solve real-world problems

In a legislative session marked by callous proposals to criminalize teachers who support their students, expand child labor and protect multi-billion corporations, Jefferson City got a breath of fresh air this week. 

Hundreds of regular Missourians descended on the state capitol to engage in a right that has been guaranteed in the Show Me State for more than 100 years: they utilized the initiative petition process to put important issues before voters.

Friday morning, folks supporting the campaign to restore abortion rights in the state turned in a monumental 380,000-plus signatures to the secretary of state’s office. 

“Today, we turned in boxes filled with hopes and dreams of bodily autonomy. Our message is simple and clear: we want to make decisions about our bodies free from political interference,” said Tori Schafer, attorney for the ACLU and spokeswoman for Missourians for Constitutional Freedom, in a statement to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. 

It was the third time this week voters seized power from lawmakers and took their rights in their own hands to push for change in the state – first with the measure to guarantee workers paid sick days and a higher minimum wage, and second with a ballot initiative to allow sports betting.

Missourians for Healthy Families and Fair Wages collected over 210,000 signatures by over 1,000 volunteers on the initiative petition to provide paid sick days and increase Missouri’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Missourians shared their stories at Wednesday’s turn-in at the secretary of state office in Jefferson City, from moms who want to take care of their kids to a restaurant worker who worried about spreading illness to customers.

“It is a constant stress, a constant anxiety,” food-service worker Alejandro Gallardo said during the rally. “People come into work sick all the time because they have no choice.”

As Missourians voiced their support for improving lives, politicians are pushing to silence them. With just weeks left in the legislative session, the Missouri Senate is considering SJR74, which would increase the already-heavy burden on citizens and dismantle majority rule.

“If your friends and neighbors vote a way that you don’t agree, you need to work to change their hearts and minds and not cut out the needs from democracy from under them,” said Crystal Buffaloe, a librarian from Columbia who helped collect signatures for the minimum wage petition.

While Missourians mobilize to have their voices heard, politicians continue to work actively against them.

However, this week Jefferson City got to see something that’s been missing for too long. The Capitol City got to see what democracy looks like.