Our Opinion: Majority rules: A basic tenet
Saturday, February 19, 2011
The concept is an underpinning of democratic society.
We generally support the concept, although we also acknowledge reasonable exceptions.
An exception in the form of a constitutional amendment has been proposed by Rep. Scott Sifton, D-Affton. His amendment would require a two-thirds legislative majority to change a voter-approved law within two years of adoption. It would require a four-sevenths majority during the next two years.
The likely launch pad for his idea is legislative debate to repeal or alter provisions of Proposition B, approved in November with 51.6 percent of the statewide vote.
The law tightening restrictions on dog breeders is on its way to contending for the title of receiving the most legislative attention after enactment.
The battle ground for the voter-approved law has moved to the Legislature because lawmakers are empowered to repeal or alter it. In contrast, amending the constitution requires a statewide vote.
Since Proposition B’s approval, opponents have continued to press their arguments that the law: is unnecessary; unduly restricts the dog-breeding industry; and marks an initial step toward limiting livestock agriculture.
After the vote, opponents added to their arguments, contending: voters didn’t understand the ramifications of Proposition B; and voters in many rural counties rejected the proposition, despite its statewide victory.
Proponents have countered that their votes were informed and have rallied behind the basic tenet that majority rules.
We believe that tenet has served us well.
Consequently, we are not in favor of Sifton’s proposed amendment, even though we acknowledge the concept of majority rules — in the form of Proposition B — is under attack in the Legislature.
We encouraged voters to reject Proposition B in November. Subsequently, however, we encouraged lawmakers to respect the majority decision.
No law is perfect. Many require tweaking over time.
But a majority of Missourians has spoken. The law voters enacted deserves a reasonable test of time before they are silenced or shouted down.