Common Cause Celebrates Victory for Missouri Voters

KANSAS CITY, MO, September 21, 2018 — The voters of Missouri prevailed today in their fight to reform the legislature, including the improving the redistricting process and limiting gifts from lobbyists. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and ruled that Amendment 1, the Clean Missouri-supported constitutional amendment to make government more responsive to the people, could appear on the November ballot. Common Cause filed an amicus brief in this case arguing that Amendment 1 contains commonsense and nonpartisan good government reforms that the people of Missouri should have the opportunity to vote on in November.

The court found that “[c]onstruing the Initiative Petition “liberally and non-restrictively,” we conclude that the Petition’s multiple provisions all relate to a single central purpose:  regulating the legislature to limit the influence of partisan or other special interests.”  Read the Opinion here.

“Government of, by, and for the people is the cornerstone of our democracy,” said Kathay Feng, Common Cause national redistricting director. “The people of Missouri will now be able to vote to reform their legislature to make it more responsive to the people and less beholden to big money special interests.”

Amendment 1 includes five reforms designed to reform the legislature and make Missouri government more responsive and accountable to the people. These include:

  • Requiring that legislative records be open to the public by ensuring that the legislature operate under the same open records law as other public entities in Missouri.
  • Requiring politicians to wait two years before becoming lobbyists after the conclusion of their final legislative session.
  • Eliminating almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly by banning any single gift worth more than $5.
  • Lowering campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates to limit the influence of big money and lobbyists in state government.
  • Ensuring that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census by asking a nonpartisan expert to draw fair legislative district maps, which would then be reviewed by a redistricting commission
    • Add fairness and competitiveness as required criteria for new district maps
    • Protect the political power of minority communities against vote dilution
    • Ask an independent state demographer to lead on technical work in creating district maps, instead of entrusting political appointees to do all of that work

Common Cause was joined in the brief by Missouri State Senator Rob Schaaf (R); Former Missouri State Senator Jim Lembke (R); and Former Missouri State Senator Bob Johnson (R).  The amici are represented by Gregory L. Diskant, Aron Fischer, and Esther Y. Kim of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP along with Missouri attorney Brett A. Emison of Langdon & Emison, Attorneys at Law.