On Oct. 18, the Texas State Legislature voted to refer to the ballot a constitutional amendment that would increase the homestead exemption for school district property taxes from $25,000 to $40,000. Voters will decide the measure on the May 2022 ballot. It would take effect for the 2022 tax year. The Legislative Budget Board estimated that the increase would cost the state $355 million in fiscal year 2023.
The amendment was filed as Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2) on Oct. 18, the last day of the legislature’s third special session this year. It was approved by both chambers unanimously. The enabling legislation, Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), also received final approval on the last day of the session.
State Senator Paul Bettencourt (R), the author of the amendment, said, “People see the need for property tax relief, and Texans are going to cry out for that continuously. This is a great way to bring that home to all of the taxpayers of Texas.”
Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner (D) said, “Texas House Democrats have been fighting for an increase in the homestead exemption for decades. While Republicans pushed for property tax rate cuts that largely benefit corporations, we have championed legislation that puts money directly into Texas homeowners’ pockets. Today, our longstanding efforts pay off under SJR 2. We are grateful our Republican colleagues have joined us to provide meaningful property tax relief to Texas homeowners.”
Texas voters last approved an increase to the homestead tax exemption in 2015 with the passage of Proposition 1. The amendment increased the exemption from $15,000 to $25,000. It was approved by a margin of 86.4% to 13.6%.
This was the second amendment the legislature referred to the ballot for the election on May 7, 2022. Texas voters will also decide on an amendment that would authorize the state legislature to reduce the limitation on total ad valorem taxes imposed on the homesteads of elderly or disabled residents for school maintenance and operations to reflect any statutory reduction from the preceding tax year. The two ballot measures are the first to be featured on an even-numbered year statewide ballot since 2014. Between 1985 and 2020, 10 ballot measures have appeared on even-numbered year Texas ballots compared to 251 ballot measures on odd-numbered year statewide ballots during that same period.
Ballotpedia is covering 11 local ballot measures in Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and Tucson on November 2, 2021.
In Chandler, voters will decide five bond issues totaling $272,685,000:
Question 1: Authorizes $72,985,000 in bonds to construct, improve, and acquire city parks and recreational facilities
Question 2: Authorizes $25,160,000 in bonds to construct, renovate, and equip city fire stations and fire safety-related facilities
Question 3: Authorizes $55,190,000 in bonds to construct, renovate, and equip city police stations and police-related facilities
Question 4: Authorizes $85,780,000 in bonds to acquire, improve, or construct streets, traffic signals, utility lines, shared-use trails, and other transportation projects
Question 5: Authorizes $33,570,000 in bonds to acquire, improve, or construct municipal buildings including performing arts facilities, office buildings, community centers, and libraries
The board of Chandler Unified School District No. 80 referred a measure to the ballot that would authorize the district to exceed their maintenance and operations budget by 15% for six years, thereby continuing existing budget levels. The measure would also levy property taxes of $1.24 per $100 in assessed property value. Voters last authorized a budget override in November 2017.
Gilbert voters will decide on two ballot measures on November 2. Question 1 would authorize the city to issue $515 million in bonds to construct, acquire, and improve streets, roadways, traffic signals, drainage systems, retention basins, and other transportation and infrastructure projects. Proposition 462 would authorize a franchise agreement between Southwest Gas Corporation and the city of Gilbert to maintain the city’s gas system and facilities for 25 years.
Scottsdale voters will decide one ballot measure, Proposition 463, that would ratify the city’s General Plan unanimously passed by the city council on June 8, 2021. In 2012, Scottsdale voters rejected a new General Plan, thereby maintaining the General Plan adopted in 2001.
The elections in Chandler, Gilbert, and Scottsdale will be conducted entirely by mail. No polling places will be provided on the election day.
Tucson voters will decide on two ballot measures. Proposition 206 would incrementally increase the city’s minimum wage from $12.15 (the state’s minimum wage) to $15 by January 1, 2025, and increase it every January thereafter by the rate of inflation rounded to the nearest multiple of $0.05. The initiative would also establish a Department of Labor Standards. The department would be authorized to receive complaints from employees, investigate employers, and educate workers about their rights under the initiative.
Tucson Proposition 410 would increase the compensation for the mayor from $42,000 to $54,000 and the compensation for city council members from $24,000 to $36,000 beginning on December 4, 2023. It would also require compensation increases linked to inflation for every following year. The Tucson election will be conducted via mail and in-person voting.
The last day to register to vote in Maricopa and Pima Counties is Monday, Oct. 4.
In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and all state capitals, including those outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering all local ballot measures in California, a selection of notable local measures related to police policies and election policies, and all statewide ballot measures.
The voter registration deadline for the November 2, 2021 election in Texas is Oct. 4. Prospective voters can request a postage-paid voter registration form online or complete the form online and return it to the county voter registrar. Applications are also available at a variety of locations including the county voter registrar’s office, the secretary of state’s office, libraries, and high schools.
The ballot will feature eight statewide constitutional amendments. The ballot titles and proposed changes are listed below:
Proposition 1: Authorizes professional sports team charitable foundations to conduct raffles at rodeo venues and includes professional association-sanctioned rodeos in the definition of a professional sports team
Proposition 2: Authorizes a county to issue bonds to fund infrastructure and transportation projects in undeveloped and blighted areas
Proposition 3: Prohibits the state or any political subdivision from enacting a law, rule, order, or proclamation that limits religious services or organizations
Proposition 4: Changes the eligibility requirements for a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a justice of a court of appeals, and a district judge
Proposition 5: Authorizes the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct to accept and investigate complaints and reports against candidates running for state judicial office
Proposition 6: States that residents of nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, or state-supported living centers have a right to designate an essential caregiver that may not be prohibited from visiting the resident
Proposition 7: Allows the legislature to extend a homestead tax limit for surviving spouses of disabled individuals as long as the spouse is 55 years old and resides at the home
Proposition 8: Allows the legislature to apply a homestead tax exemption for surviving spouses of members of the military to those fatally injured in the line of duty
The Texas State Legislature can refer constitutional amendments to the ballot in odd-numbered years and even-numbered years. However, as the legislature convenes regular sessions in odd-numbered years but not even-numbered years, most amendments have been referred to ballot in odd-numbered years.
Texas is one of 16 states that require a two-thirds vote in each legislative chamber during one legislative session to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot. That amounts to a minimum of 100 votes in the Texas House of Representatives and 21 votes in the Texas Senate, assuming no vacancies. In 2021, the average number of legislative votes for amendments referred to the ballot was 160.
In 2021, eight of the 218 introduced constitutional amendments were certified for the ballot during the regular session, meaning the rate of certification was 3.7%, down from 4.6% in 2019.
Between 1995 and 2020, 154 of the 169 constitutional amendments that appeared on Texas ballots were approved. The number of ballot measures on odd-year statewide ballots ranged from 7 to 22.
The ballot language for the 39 ballot measures appearing on nine statewide ballots in 2021 is written at an average reading grade level of 18 (second-year graduate school), up from 15 in 2019.
Ballotpedia’s annual readability analysis of ballot titles and summaries of ballot measures was conducted using two formulas, the Flesch Reading Ease (FRE) and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL). The FRE formula produces a score between a negative number and 100, with the highest score (100) representing a 5th-grade equivalent reading level and scores at or below zero representing college graduate-equivalent reading level. The FKGL formula produces a score equivalent to the estimated number of years of U.S. education required to understand a text.
Here are some highlights from this year’s report:
On average in 2021, ballot titles or questions were written at a reading grade level of 18 (second-year graduate school).
The average ballot title or question grade level by state in 2021 ranged from seven in Washington to 32 in Colorado.
In 2019, the average Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level for the ballot titles or questions of statewide ballot measures was 15 years of formal U.S. education, and average state scores ranged from nine to 27.
Ballotpedia identified 15 measures with a ballot summary that was set to appear along with the ballot question on the ballot. The average Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level for the ballot summaries was 14.
The average ballot summary grade by state ranged from nine in Louisiana to 17 in Pennsylvania.
The average ballot title or question grade was highest for ballot titles written by secretaries of state (25) and other state boards and offices (21).
The Washington Attorney General wrote the titles with the lowest average grade level of seven.
The average ballot title or question in 2021 contained about 53 words. In 2019, the average ballot title length was 41 words.
The 2021 ballot measure with the longest ballot title was Colorado Proposition 119, which concerns an out-of-school education program and marijuana sales tax increase. The ballot question is 142 words.
The states with the shortest ballot titles or questions on average were Texas, Washington, and Maine; none of the three states featured additional ballot summaries or explanations on the ballot.
Austin voters will decide a ballot measure related to police staffing, training requirements, and demographic representation in hiring on November 2, 2021. The Texas Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the city council had to use the caption drafted by the measure’s sponsor, Save Austin Now, rather than the language approved by the city council for the ballot.
The court ruled that the sponsor’s language which appeared on circulating petitions complied with state law and did not need to be rewritten by the city council. However, the court agreed with the council’s addition of a fiscal impact statement saying, “We agree with the City that the omission of any cost information can be misleading and we cannot say that including the City’s cost estimate in the ballot language affirmatively misrepresents the ordinance’s character and purpose or its chief features so as to make it potentially misleading.”
Save Austin Now filed a lawsuit on August 16 arguing that the ballot language adopted by the city council was selective because it did not describe the initiative’s provisions related to diversity hiring and inventive guidelines or the 40 additional training hours for officers required by the measure. They also argued that the five-year cost estimate was exaggerated.
The city council adopted the following ballot language: “Shall an ordinance be approved that, at an estimated cost of $271.5 million – $598.8 million over five years, requires the City to employ at least 2 police officers per 1,000 residents at all times; requires at least 35% of patrol officer time be uncommitted time, otherwise known as community engagement time; requires additional financial incentives for certain officers; requires specific kinds of training for officers and certain public officials and their staffs; and requires there be at least three full-term cadet classes for the department until staffing levels reach a specific level?”
The following language will be on the ballot according to the supreme court’s ruling: “A petitioned ordinance to enhance public safety and police oversight, transparency and accountability by adding a new chapter 2-16 to establish minimum standards for the police department to ensure effective public safety and protect residents and visitors to Austin, and prescribing minimal requirements for achieving the same at an estimated cost of $271.5 million – $598.8 million over five years.” This language, except the cost estimate, was circulated by Save Austin Now on signature petitions for the initiative.
The Austin City Charter states that ballot initiatives “shall state the caption of the ordinance” on the ballot.
The proposed ordinance would:
establish minimum police staffing and require there to be at least 2 police officers for every 1,000 residents of Austin;
add an additional 40 hours of police training each year on topics such as active shooter scenarios, critical thinking, and defensive tactics; and
provide police with additional compensation for being proficient in non-English languages, enrolling in cadet mentoring programs, and being recognized for honorable conduct.
In Austin, initiative petitioners must gather 20,000 signatures to qualify an initiative for the ballot. The requirement is based on five percent of the qualified voters in the city or 20,000, whichever is smaller. The deadline to collect signatures to qualify for the 2021 ballot was July 22, 2021. If petitioners collect enough signatures, their initiative is sent to the city council, which must either approve the initiative or put it on the ballot for the next allowable election date.
On July 19, Save Austin Now submitted 27,778 signatures. On August 3, 2021, the Austin City Clerk announced that a sampling of a quarter of the submitted signatures projected 25,786 valid signatures, 5,786 more than the minimum requirement. On August 11, the city council voted unanimously to put the initiative on the ballot instead of passing it outright.
In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering a selection of local police-related measures concerning police oversight, the powers and structure of oversight commissions, police practices, law enforcement department structure and administration, law enforcement budgets, law enforcement training requirements, law enforcement staffing requirements, and body and dashboard camera footage. Click here to read more.
On September 1, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) announced that 17 ballot initiatives of the 30 filed were cleared for signature gathering. The 17 initiatives included 16 initiated state statutes aiming for the 2022 ballot and one initiated constitutional amendment that would appear on the 2024 ballot.
The initiatives cleared for signature gathering address:
Changes to alcohol retail licensing,
Compensation of chief executive officers of hospitals,
Hospital operating margin limits,
App-based drivers’ employment classification,
Hate crimes against first responders,
Commercial retail of fireworks,
Whale and sea turtle safe fishing gear,
Sale of discounted alcoholic beverages,
Corporate tax disclosures,
Right to counsel in eviction proceedings,
Tax credits for individuals who buy zero-emission vehicles, home heating systems, and home solar-powered electricity, and
No-excuse absentee voting.
Proponents of the initiatives that were not cleared for signature gathering can appeal the attorney general’s decision to the Supreme Judicial Court. In determining which initiatives to clear for circulation, the attorney general considers whether the initiative meets the requirements in the constitution, such as a single-subject rule, subject restrictions, format requirements, and a ban on repeating of a measure voters decided at either of the two preceding statewide elections.
In Massachusetts, the number of signatures required to qualify an indirect initiated state statute for the ballot is equal to 3.5 percent of the votes cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election. No more than one-quarter of the verified signatures on any petition can come from a single county. The process for initiated state statutes in Massachusetts is indirect, which means the legislature has a chance to approve initiatives for which enough signatures are collected without the measure going to the voters. In Massachusetts, signatures for initiated state statutes are collected in two rounds.
For the 2022 ballot, the first round is 80,239 signatures (3 percent of the votes cast for governor). If petitioners meet the first-round requirement, the initiative goes before the legislature. The second round is equal to 13,374 signatures (0.5 percent of the votes cast for governor. It is required to put the measure on the ballot if the legislature rejects or declines to act on a proposed initiated statute.
The deadline to submit the first round of signatures to the secretary of state is December 1, 2021. Prior to submitting signatures to the secretary of state, the signatures need to be submitted to local registrars by November 17, 2021. If the legislature does not adopt the proposed law by May 4, 2022, petitioners then have until July 6, 2022 (eight weeks) to request additional petition forms and submit the second round of signatures.
Proposed constitutional amendments have just one round of signature gathering with the same requirement and deadline as the first round for statutes. If enough signatures are submitted by the deadline, the initiative goes to the legislature, where 25 percent of all legislators, with senators and representatives voting jointly, must approve the amendment in two successive sessions. If this requirement is met, the initiative goes on the ballot at the next general election. Because of this unique requirement, the earliest an initiated constitutional amendment can reach the ballot is two years following signature submission.
Between 1996 and 2020, an average of three measures appeared on the ballot in Massachusetts during even-numbered election years. About 54% (22 of 41) of the total number of measures that appeared on statewide ballots were approved, and about 46% (19 of 41) were defeated.
Texas voters will decide on a constitutional amendment related to a property tax reduction for elderly and disabled residents on May 7, 2022. The amendment was passed during the second special legislative session, which convened on Aug. 7, 2021. The amendment would authorize the state legislature to reduce the property tax limit for school maintenance and operations taxes imposed on the homesteads of elderly or disabled residents to reflect any tax rate reduction enacted by law from the preceding tax year.
To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a two-thirds vote is required in both the Texas state Senate and the Texas House of Representatives. This amendment was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2) on Aug. 6, 2021. On Aug. 9, 2021, the state Senate passed SJR 2 by a vote of 29-0 with two absent. On Aug. 26, 2021, the state House passed SJR 2 by a vote of 116-0 with 32 absent or not voting.
Senate Bill 12 (SB 12), the enabling legislation for the amendment, was also passed during the special session. SB 12 extends a property tax reduction enacted by House Bill 3 in 2019 to elderly and disabled residents whose property taxes are frozen either when they turn 65 or buy a new property if they are disabled. The Senate passed SB 12 by a vote of 31-0, and the House passed SB 12 by a vote of 121-0 with 27 absent or not voting. As of Aug. 30, the bill was awaiting the governor’s signature. If the amendment is passed, SB 12 would take effect on Jan. 1, 2023. The Legislative Budget Board estimated that the reduction would result in a $467.5 million reduction to revenue in the first two years of its implementation.
State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R), who wrote the amendment, said, “I hope a unanimous vote from the Senate is a signal that this really is good bipartisan legislation. This isn’t just tax relief. This would be a tax cut, and over time it would continue for as long as (seniors and disabled Texans) own the home.”
The amendment and SB 12 were modeled after a 2007 constitutional amendment and 2006 property tax reduction. In 2007, voters approved Proposition 1, which reduced school property tax freeze amounts on homesteads of the elderly or disabled to provide a tax reduction similar to the reduction other taxpayers had received in 2006. It was passed by a margin of 87.7% to 12.3%.
The 2022 amendment is the first even-numbered year ballot measure to appear on Texas ballots since 2014. Between 1985 and 2020, 10 ballot measures have appeared on even-numbered year ballots in Texas compared to 251 ballot measures on odd-numbered year ballots during that same period.
The deadline for state legislators to refer an amendment to the November 2021 ballot was Aug. 16. In November, Texas voters will decide eight constitutional amendments related to taxes, the state judiciary, raffles at rodeo venues, county authorization to issue bonds for infrastructure, designated essential caregivers at nursing facilities, and limitations on religious services.
On August 4, Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work filed two versions of a ballot initiative with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office that would classify app-based transportation (rideshare) and delivery drivers as independent contractors. It would also adopt labor and wage policies specific to app-based drivers and companies.
The initiative is similar to California’s Proposition 22 that was approved by voters at the 2020 general election by a margin of 58.6% to 41.4%. California’s Proposition 22 was the most expensive ballot measure campaign in California’s history according to available records. The support reported $202.9 million in contributions, with Uber, Doordash, Lyft, InstaCart, and Postmates as top donors. The opposition reported $19.7 million in contributions, with unions as the top donors.
The ballot initiative filed targeting the 2022 Massachusetts ballot would define app-based drivers as independent contractors who meet the following criteria:
couriers of a delivery network company (DNC) or drivers of a transportation network company (TNC),
companies that do not prescribe the time and days worked by the courier or driver,
contractors with DNC or TNC that cannot be terminated for rejecting service or delivery requests, and
couriers and drivers that are not captive to any specific DNC or TNC and are not restricted from performing other work.
Examples of companies that hired app-based drivers include Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash.
The initiative would enact labor and wage policies that are specific to app-based drivers and companies including
a guaranteed earnings floor that would be equal to $18 per hour in 2023 excluding tips,
paid occupational safety training program requirements,
a healthcare stipend for workers who meet weekly hour requirements,
earned paid sick leave,
coverage under Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave,
requirements for occupational accident insurance to cover disability payments and medical bills, and
requirements for accidental death insurance.
The law would take effect on January 1, 2023.
Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. The coalition has been endorsed by DoorDash, Lyft, Uber, Postmates, and Instacart. James Hills, a community activist and spokesperson for the Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work, said, “There is a national call for true equity and inclusion amid a world pandemic, and yet without a major change thousands of drivers could lose the work they rely on. A large number of app-based drivers are Black, Brown, and women and it is imperative that we protect the flexibility that they want and their ability to earn when they want. That freedom, plus the benefits and protections in this ballot question, will strengthen our communities and boost economic opportunities for people from every background.”
Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights is leading the campaign in opposition to the initiative. It has been endorsed by NAACP New England Area Conference, ACLU Massachusetts, Massachusetts AFL-CIO, and SEIU-Massachusetts. Beth Griffith, an Uber driver and spokesperson for the Coalition, said, “The ballot language from Uber and Lyft is a $100 million ploy to avoid paying taxes, avoid paying workers fairly, and allow Big Tech companies to buy their way out of the basic obligations of every other business. Drivers and delivery workers, most of us Black, Brown, and immigrants, are tired of being treated like ‘second class’ workers by these multibillion-dollar tech companies. When we ask these companies to simply follow the law, they threaten our jobs.”
August 4 was the deadline to submit petitions for indirect initiated state statutes in Massachusetts. The number of signatures required to qualify an indirect initiated state statute for the ballot is equal to 3.5 percent of the votes cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election collected in two rounds.
The legislature has a chance to approve indirect initiatives without the measure going to the voters. The first round of signatures equal to 3 percent of the votes cast for governor is required to put an initiative before the legislature. For the 2022 ballot, the first-round signature requirement is 80,239 signatures. A second round of signatures equal to 0.5 percent of the votes cast for governor in the last election is required to put the measure on the ballot if the legislature rejects or declines to act on a proposed initiated statute. The second-round signature requirement is 13,374 signatures.
Before proponents can gather signatures, an initiative must be approved by the attorney general’s office to ensure it complies with the state’s single-subject rule. After that determination, the petition is sent to the secretary of the commonwealth where it receives a summary to be included on the official petition form for circulation.
Twenty-eight indirect initiated state statutes targeting the 2022 ballot were filed with the attorney general’s office. Two proposed initiated constitutional amendments, which are governed by a different process, were also filed and would go on the 2024 ballot. The attorney general will make an announcement on which initiatives are cleared for signature gathering on September 1.
On July 29, Texas Deputy Secretary of State Joe Esparza drew the ballot order for the eight constitutional amendments referred to the November ballot during the state legislature’s regular session.
The deadline to add a measure to the ballot is August 16. However, with a lack of quorum in the Texas House of Representatives due to Democrats protesting a bill related to state elections, the state legislature is unlikely to refer any other amendments during its special legislative session.
The Texas State Legislature convened a special legislative session on July 8 that was set to adjourn on August 7. As of July 30, state legislators had introduced 33 constitutional amendments during the special legislative session—26 in the House and seven in the Senate. Two resolutions had passed the Senate.
During the regular legislative session, which convened on January 12 and adjourned on May 31, state legislators filed 218 constitutional amendments. The following eight amendments met the two-thirds vote requirement in each chamber to be referred to the November ballot:
Proposition 1 would amend the state constitution to (i) authorize professional sports team charitable foundations to conduct raffles at rodeo venues and (ii) include professional association-sanctioned rodeos in the definition of professional sports team.
Proposition 2 would authorize a county to issue bonds to fund infrastructure and transportation projects in undeveloped and blighted areas.
Proposition 3 would prohibit the state or any political subdivision from enacting a law, rule, order, or proclamation that limits religious services or organizations.
Proposition 4 would change the eligibility requirements for the following judicial offices: a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a justice of a court of appeals, and a district judge.
Proposition 5 would authorize the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct to accept and investigate complaints and reports against candidates running for state judicial office.
Proposition 6 would amend the state Constitution to state that residents of nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, or state-supported living centers have a right to designate an essential caregiver that may not be prohibited from visiting the resident.
Proposition 7 would allow the legislature to extend a homestead tax limit for surviving spouses of disabled individuals as long as the spouse is 55 years old and resides at the home.
Proposition 8 would allow the legislature to apply a homestead tax exemption for surviving spouses of members of the military to those fatally injured in the line of duty.
Between the Texas House and Texas Senate, at least 121 votes were needed to pass a constitutional amendment. In Texas, the average number of legislative votes for a constitutional amendment was 164 between 1995 and 2021. In 2021, the average number of votes was 160.
Between 1995 and 2019, Texas voters decided on 169 statewide measures. Of those, the top five topics voted on were taxes (39 measures), bonds (20 measures), administration of government (16 measures), government budget and finances (16 measures), and property (11 measures).
On July 22, the Missouri Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a constitutional amendment enacting Medicaid expansion was constitutional. The decision reversed a lower court’s ruling that found the amendment approved by voters last August to be unconstitutional because it did not include a revenue source for the state to pay for the Medicaid expansion. The Supreme Court ruled that the amendment “does not remove the General Assembly’s discretion in appropriating money to MO HealthNet,” and therefore, “the circuit court erred in declaring article IV, section 36(c) constitutionally invalid.”
The Supreme Court concluded that the Department of Social Services and Missouri HealthNet, who are responsible for the administration of Medicaid in Missouri, are required to use the funds appropriated by the legislature on all eligible recipients under the adopted amendment. The amendment, which was approved by a margin of 53.27% to 46.73%, expanded Medicaid eligibility in Missouri to adults that are 19 years of age or older and younger than 65 whose income is 138% of the federal poverty level or below under the Affordable Care Act.
Stephanie Doyle, Melinda Hille, and Autumn Stultz—three individuals who qualify for Medicaid under the expanded eligibility—filed the lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court. On June 23, Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem ruled that the amendment was unconstitutional because it did not include a way for the state to pay for the Medicaid expansion. He wrote, “If the court allows them to spend other state revenues by initiative such action would deprive the General Assembly of its constitutional right to appropriate revenues in all other non-initiative circumstances.”
Amy Blouin of the Missouri Budget Project said, “As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Missourians across the state will finally be able to realize the health and economic benefits of Medicaid expansion. State after state has shown that in addition to providing insurance to those eligible, expansion is a fiscal and economic boon to state economies and budgets.”
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Dan Hegeman (R), who opposed the amendment, said, “The legal gymnastics employed by the court to get their desired political outcome sets a dangerous precedent and greatly diminishes the power of Missourians’ elected representatives.”
Since the Supreme Court has upheld Medicaid expansion, the state must file paperwork with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to set up the enrollment process for newly eligible individuals. Governor Mike Parson (R) previously withdrew the state’s paperwork in May after the state legislature passed the state’s budget without expanding funding for Medicaid.
The amendment faced legal challenges before the vote last August. In May 2020, two separate lawsuits were filed against Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R) challenging the constitutionality of the citizen-initiated ballot measure by Americans for Prosperity-Missouri and United for Missouri. Both lawsuits argued that the initiative was unconstitutional because it appropriated state funds without creating a new source of revenue. In June 2020, Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green ruled in favor of the initiative keeping it on the ballot. Judge Green argued that the ballot measure does not require the state legislature to appropriate money for Medicaid expansion, and therefore, it does not need to provide a funding source. Missouri Western District Court of Appeals upheld Judge Green’s decision to keep the initiative on the August ballot after United for Missouri and Americans for Prosperity-Missouri appealed the decision.
Missouri joins 38 states and Washington, D.C., in expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.