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Missouri Chamber files second lawsuit against Clean Missouri proposal

Missouri Chamber files second lawsuit against Clean Missouri proposal

August 14th, 2018 by Bob Watson in Missouri News

There now are two lawsuits challenging the proposed Clean Missouri amendment to Missouri's Constitution, which has been placed on the Nov. 6 general election ballot as "Amendment 1."

Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, filed the second lawsuit Friday — generally raising the same issues as the first suit, filed Aug. 2.

Both lawsuits have been assigned to Cole County Circuit Judge Pat Joyce.

However, Kansas City lawyer Edward Greim, who filed the first suit on behalf of Paul Ritter, of St. Elizabeth, on Friday filed a motion for a change of judge — which state law allows him to do without citing any reason for the request.

So far, no hearings have been scheduled in either case.

On Aug. 2, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft certified the Clean Missouri petition and four others as meeting the legal and constitutional requirements for being placed on the Nov. 6 ballot.

If voters approve it, the Clean Missouri amendment would create:

A new process and criteria for redrawing state Legislative districts during reapportionment.

Changed limits on campaign contributions that candidates for state legislature can accept from individuals or entities.

A limit on gifts that state legislators, and their employees, can accept from paid lobbyists.

A prohibition on state legislators, and their employees, from serving as paid lobbyists for a two-year period after leaving office.

A ban on political fundraising on state property by candidates for, or members of, the state Legislature.

A mandate that legislative records and proceedings to be open to the public under Missouri's Sunshine Law.

Like the Ritter lawsuit, the Mehan suit argues the proposed amendment violates the Constitution's requirement that: "Petitions for constitutional amendments shall not contain more than one amended and revised article of this constitution, or one new article which shall not contain more than one subject and matters properly connected therewith."

However, like the first lawsuit, Mehan argues the Clean Missouri initiative petition "makes at least 21 different amendments to the Constitution."

Among those changes, Mehan's lawyers wrote, the redistricting changes would mandate "that state legislative districts be drawn based on total population, including illegal immigrants and felons," and the new districts would "be designed to achieve 'partisan fairness' and 'competitiveness' as defined" by the proposed amendment.

In a news release announcing Mehan's lawsuit, the state chamber said: "If successful, the Missouri Chamber's legal challenge will remove Amendment 1 from the Nov. 6 statewide ballot, (sparing) Missourians from having to decide whether or not to approve this deceptive amendment to the state's Constitution.

"Amendment 1 is an attempt by billionaire activist George Soros to tinker with Missouri's Constitution and redraw the lines that define how Missouri is divided into state House and Senate districts.

"If Amendment 1 passes, it could lead to a radical shift in priorities in the Missouri General Assembly, opening the door to higher taxes and more bureaucratic regulation. It could also reverse long-running efforts to make our state business friendly and competitive for growth and investment opportunities."

However, the Clean Missouri campaign issued its own statement, responding to the chamber's lawsuit.

In that statement, the Rev. Cassandra Gould, pastor of Jefferson City's Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church and executive director of the group, Missouri Faith Voices, said the lawsuit was a "desperate attempt from a few political insiders to protect a corrupt system where legislators take millions in lobbyist gifts while ignoring voters back home. We expected a last-ditch effort like this, because they know what we know: Voters are fed up with what they've been seeing in Jefferson City, and are really excited about the opportunity to clean up state politics with Amendment 1 in November."

Gould noted more than 300,000 Missourians signed petitions over the past year to put the proposed amendment onto the November ballot.

State law requires challenges to ballot proposals be made within 10 days of being certified for the ballot. Both lawsuits were filed within the required time.

And, both lawsuits argue, supporters can't violate the Constitution while trying to change it.

The chamber said in its news release: "Judges have ordered similarly drafted amendments to be removed from ballots in the past."