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Your Opinion: Initiative petitions lead to bad laws

Your Opinion: Initiative petitions lead to bad laws

March 13th, 2011 by William D. Steinmeier, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

Initiative petitions are inconsistent with our system of representative democracy, in which we elect people to represent us who have time to study and debate the details of proposed laws. The initiative petition was patched onto our constitutional system, and does not fit. The next initiative petition I intend to vote for is one that eliminates "Initiative petitions."

Initiative petitions avoid the rigors of legislative debate and full public fleshing out of the merits of the issues. Reasoned debate by seasoned legislators is replaced with slick television ads and oversimplified sound bites. Most Missourians used to vote against anything they had doubts about but, in recent years, majorities have taken to approving major legislation that was not well understood or thought out.

I do not understand Proposition B. I voted against it. I want animals to be treated humanely, and would like for our elected General Assembly to study this issue at a depth that 95 percent of voters could not have last November, and either affirm the law or amend it, as they determine best.

The 1976 initiative petition that prevented electric ratepayers from paying any part of power plant construction until the plant is "fully operational and used for service" was a popular favorite that added a billion dollars (33.3 percent) to the cost of Callaway I. Proposition 1 made many people feel good, but we are all still paying those additional costs in current rates.

The legislative branch of government has the responsibility of proposing, studying, debating and enacting laws. Let them do so, and vote against your representative or senator next time if you disagree with the laws they have passed. The initiative petition is simply an invitation to mischief and bad law.