Petition affecting lawmakers, lobbyists advances

Missourians soon may be asked if they want to change the state Constitution, to require changes in the way lawmakers and legislative candidates operate.

Secretary of State Jason Kander said Tuesday he has approved a second initiative petition proposing the changes for circulation around the state, to gather signatures for placing the issue on the Nov. 4, 2014, statewide general election ballot.

St. Louis lawyer Brad Ketcher submitted both petitions, which affect lawmakers and potential lawmakers in three different ways.

When running for office, they would have contribution limits from individuals of $1,000 for state Senate candidates and $500 for House candidates.

Penalties for violating the limits would be a $5,000 civil fine, plus an amount equal to the illegal contribution, for a first offense; and a criminal charge for more violations, that could result in a prison sentence up to four years as well as the $5,000 fine plus an amount equal to the illegal contribution.

The amendment, if passed by voters, also would prohibit fund-raising activities “on any premises, property, or building owned, leased or controlled by the House, Senate or General Assembly” — with a possible punishment of one year in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000.

Once elected to a legislative office, they — and their staff members — could not accept “directly or indirectly a gift of any tangible or intangible item, service, or thing of value in excess of $5 from any lobbyist.”

And, once elected to office, the amendment would prohibit lawmakers and their employees from serving as, or registering as, lobbyists, for two years after the lawmaker leaves office.

The proposal also would make it clear that legislative records are “public records subject to generally applicable state laws governing public access to public records.”

Kander approved the first petition for circulation last week.

The one approved Tuesday adds the same contribution limits for candidates for an office within the House ($500) or Senate ($1,000), such as House speaker or Senate president pro tem.

Supporters now have until 5 p.m. May 4, 2014, to gather registered voters’ signatures in at least six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts, equal to at least 8 percent of the total number of votes cast for governor in that district in the 2012 general election.

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