For immediate release: June 11, 2019
Contact: Maura Browning, Communications Director
Ashcroft Rejects Third Referendum Petition
Jefferson City, Mo. — Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft today rejected the third referendum petition on House Bill 126 for failing to comply with the Missouri Constitution. On May 17, 2019, the legislature passed HB126. The Governor signed HB126 on May 24 which included an “emergency clause,” a section that made a portion of the law effective immediately.
“The Constitution of Missouri may not be changed – and never has been changed – without a vote of the people,” Ashcroft said.
Approving a referendum petition in which a portion of the law is already in effect would set a new precedent in Missouri. Although the Missouri Constitution (Article III, Section 49) states the people may approve or reject by referendum any “act” of the general assembly, never in Missouri history has a secretary of state approved a referendum petition in which a portion of the law was already in effect. Additionally, a secretary of state has never approved a referendum of only a portion of an act of the legislature.
A small number of state constitutions provide an option to refer a portion of a law to the people for a vote, but Missouri does not have that option. As an example, the Maryland Constitution provides for a referendum of “any Act, or part of any Act” of the general assembly. In Oregon, a referendum on an “Act or part thereof” may be ordered by a petition. The State of Washington’s Constitution allows for a referendum of “all or part of any act, bill, or law” passed by the legislature. The Constitution of Arizona provides for a referendum of “any item, section, or part of any measure” and allows for the rest of the measure to become law.
Visit www.sos.mo.gov to learn more about the Office of the Missouri Secretary of State.