Missouri Amendment 3 receives third ballot title from state Court of Appeals

On August 31, a panel for the Missouri Court of Appeals agreed with a Cole County Circuit Court judge that “certain aspects of the official summary statement are unfair or insufficient and require revision,” but the panel said its draft of the ballot title had “more limited revisions than those ordered by the circuit court.”

The lower court had ruled on August 17 in favor of a group of petition circulators for Clean Missouri, the campaign that sponsored Missouri Amendment 1 (2018), and rewrote the ballot title originally drafted by the state legislature. The lawsuit argued that the ballot title of Amendment 3 was misleading because it did not mention the elimination of the nonpartisan demographer, which was the office established by Amendment 1 (2018) to conduct legislative redistricting in the state. Judge Alok Ahuja, who wrote the opinion on behalf of the appellate court panel, said, “We believe that voters need to be informed that they are being asked to reconsider, and substantially modify, a measure which they only recently approved.” The attorney general’s office said the state would appeal the ruling to the Missouri Supreme Court.

The original ballot title written by the state legislature read:
“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
  • Ban all lobbyist gifts to legislators and their employees;
  • Reduce legislative campaign contribution limits; and
  • Create citizen-led independent bipartisan commissions to draw state legislative districts based on one person, one vote, minority voter protection, compactness, competitiveness, fairness and other criteria?”
The second title written by a Cole County Circuit Court judge read:
“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
  • Repeal rules for drawing state legislative districts approved by voters in November 2018 and replace them with rules proposed by the legislature;
  • Lower the campaign contribution limit for senate candidates by $100; and
  • Lower legislative gift limits from $5 to $0, with exemptions for some lobbyists?”
The third title written by the Missouri Court of Appeals reads:
“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
  • Ban gifts from paid lobbyists to legislators and their employees;
  • Reduce legislative campaign contribution limits;
  • Change the redistricting process voters approved in 2018 by: (i) transferring responsibility for drawing state legislative districts from the Nonpartisan State Demographer to Governor-appointed bipartisan commissions; (ii) modifying and reordering the redistricting criteria.”

Amendment 3 would return to the use of bipartisan commissions appointed by the governor for legislative redistricting and eliminate the nonpartisan state demographer, which was created by the approval of Amendment 1 (2018). The bipartisan commissions would be renamed the House Independent Bipartisan Citizens Commission and the Senate Independent Bipartisan Citizens Commission and consist of 20 members each. The amendment would also change the criteria used to draw district maps, the threshold of lobbyists’ gifts, and the campaign contribution limit for state senate campaigns.

Missouri Amendment 3 was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 38 (SJR 38) on January 8, 2020. On February 10, the state Senate passed SJR 38 in a vote of 22-9. Of the 23 Republicans in the Senate, 22 voted in favor of SJR 38, one voted against it. All eight Democrats voted against it. On May 13, the state House passed SJR 38 in a vote of 98-56 with eight absent.

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About the author

Victoria Antram

Victoria Antram is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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