People who helped pass the Clean Missouri state constitutional amendment were among those who filed suit Monday to block the proposed ballot language of the bill passed this spring to change the amendment's redistricting plan.
Sixty-two percent of the almost 2.4 million Missourians who voted in November 2018 approved of Amendment 1, known as Clean Missouri.
The amendment included a plan to have a non-partisan state demographer — to be chosen by the state auditor with approval from the state Senate's majority and minority party leaders — be responsible for drawing new political district lines based on clear criteria including being compact and contiguous, as well as having natural and political boundaries, keeping communities' interests, and fairness and political competitiveness.
Lawmakers, however, passed SJR 38 this spring, which — upon voters' approval — would get rid of the state demographer post and give redistricting responsibility to House and Senate commissions of 20 members each. The commission members would be appointed by the governor, who would choose from lists provided by state and congressional district committees of each of the two political parties in the state that cast the highest vote for governor in the last preceding gubernatorial election.
However, it's the ballot language that would seek voters' input on the law that has inflamed supporters of the original Clean Missouri, who refer to the Legislature's changes this spring as "Dirty Missouri."
Eight people who collected signatures in support of the Clean Missouri initiative petition being on the November 2018 ballot or who otherwise volunteered to help pass it in 2018 were plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed Monday in Cole County Circuit Court against the secretary of state, leaders of the House and Senate and the senator who sponsored SJR 38.
The 59-page lawsuit is seeking an injunction to block ballot language that the plaintiffs' attorney, Chuck Hatfield, said in a news release is unfair and inaccurate.
"The ballot summary language in SJR38 contains false assertions, misleading language, and conspicuous omissions that will mislead voters about the substance of the proposed amendment if it appears on a ballot," according to the news release.
More specifically, the group takes issue with descriptions about the redistricting commissions, changes in lobbyist gifts and campaign contribution limits, and the assertion the new law would protect the interests of minority communities.