Our founding fathers witnessed first-hand the oppressive nature of a tyrannical government. For years they saw their wants and desires be ignored by a king an ocean away until the point that it became “necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another.” In order to protect against a similar situation becoming a reality in America, the founders established protective founding documents such as the United States Constitution and Bill of rights that secured our God-given liberties.
One of the core principles of the republic established by our founding fathers is the idea that the government should rely on the people for power, not the other way around. A government of the people, by the people, for the people is what they sought. Citizen participation in government is essential to the Madisonian model they created. Whether this activity comes in the form of voting for a candidate or running for office; the founders envisioned a nation with an active populace.
In Missouri, citizens have the ability to directly participate in the formulation of state laws and constitutional amendments. Missouri is one of 24 states that allow citizens to participate in government via the initiative petition process. Unfortunately, in recent years this mechanism has been abused by big-money, outside interests. In fact, in 2012 alone, 61 of the 141 filed initiative petitions were submitted by three sources covering only three topics. These are not the grassroots movements that our fathers would have been proud to see.
In order to protect the initiative petition process for those that want to properly use it, I filed two pieces of initiative petition reform legislation. House Joint Resolution 47 and House Bill 1869 both help bring more transparency and statewide support to the initiative petition process.
Currently, an initiative petition proposing constitutional amendments must be signed by 8 percent of voters in 2/3’s of Missouri’s congressional districts, while initiative petitions proposing laws and referendums subjecting laws to a popular vote require the signatures of 5 percent of voters in 2/3 of Missouri’s congressional districts. HJR 47 would lower the percentages to 5.25 and 3.25 percent, respectively in all of Missouri’s Congressional districts, not just 2/3’s. This would ensure that all Missourians have a fair chance of participating in the initiative petition process.
HB 1869 helps to bring more transparency to the initiative petition process. First off, under this proposed legislation signature gatherers would have to wear a badge that informs a potential signer whether or not the collector is paid or volunteer. Also, HB 1869 would help to protect the dignity of the initiative petition process by prohibiting an individual who has been convicted of forgery from collecting signatures. In addition, the bill would require the Secretary of State’s office to post filed initiative petitions on their website within 2 days of their receipt, while also allowing for a public comment period and public hearing for all proposed petitions. These two pieces of legislation ensure that citizens will still be able to petition their government while also protecting Missourians from influential outside sources.
Not only did the founding fathers want Americans to be active in their government, but they also wanted them to be able to protect their life and property from threats both foreign and domestic. They felt so strongly about the citizens’ right to bear arms that they placed in second in the Bill of Rights. However, many today would like to see your Second Amendment right be done away with. That is why the Missouri House passed House Joint Resolution 49, sponsored by Representative Rick Brattin.
HJR 49 proposes a constitutional amendment specifying that the right of every citizen to possess or purchase ammunition and articles for the proper functioning of arms must not be infringed or limited. In other states such as California legislation has been focused on the purchase of ammunition.
In essence, California is treating their law-abiding citizens like criminals. The end result is the erosion of the fundamental liberties of their citizens, undermining the purpose and spirit of the Bill of Rights essential to every American’s liberty.
The bottom line is that we can’t let that happen here in Missouri, and HJR 49 will ensure that it doesn’t. By sending this legislation to a vote of the people, we can ensure that all law-abiding Missourians continue enjoying the freedom to own and use firearms. The bill now goes to the Senate where, upon approval, it will be placed on the ballot.
For more information about the legislation mentioned above or about any others that have been introduced please visit the House of Representatives website, www. house.mo.gov. As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri House of Representatives.