Democrats block vote on initial petition process

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Senate begins a heated debate on a proposal to make constitutional amendments more challenging to pass. The same process that put recreational marijuana on the ballot is now being used to try to secure abortion rights, but Senate Republicans want to make it harder for voters to amend the Constitution.

Senator Mary Elizabeth Coleman, a Republican from Arnold, says lawmakers need to safeguard the state’s founding document. However, as the discussion kept going late Monday afternoon, Democrats pushed back. FOX 2’s partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that they went into a filibuster, blocking a vote on the measure.

This comes as a group is circulating a petition asking voters if abortion rights should be enshrined in the constitution. Republicans want to make it tougher to approve a referendum. The measure would require constitutional amendments to win a simple majority statewide.

Voters would get the final say on whether to make citizen-led initiative petitions more difficult. Republican proponents want the initiative petition changes on the August ballot, hoping that if an abortion question appeared before voters in November, it would be more difficult to approve.

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Many Republicans have also criticized other constitutional amendments voters have approved in recent years, including medicaid expansion and marijuana legalization.

“IP reform to protect Missouri’s constitution is very very important to this state” Republican Senator Denny Hoskins said. “It’s important that our elections aren’t bought by special out-of-state interests.”

“They want to go to IP because that’s their number one priority,” Democrat Senator John Rizzo explained. “Taking Missourians’ voice away at the ballot box, we want to go to child care tax credits. Simply put.”

Lawmakers are talking about taking Wednesday and Thursday off to attend the Chiefs Super Bowl victory celebrations.

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