In Missouri, when the General Assembly fails to tackle issues important to our citizens, the people can bring about change by putting proposed solutions on the ballot and letting the public decide.
This is what happened last August when voters defeated Right to Work and then passed a series of measures in November, including anti-gerrymandering laws, ethics reform, a raise to the minimum wage and legalization of medical cannabis.
Despite a clear mandate from Missourians on these issues — each passed with about two-thirds of the vote — GOP lawmakers are working to reverse the will of the people, overriding voter-approved laws and passing new legislation that undermines them.
While disappointing, this action by the GOP supermajority is not surprising.
Voters are against Right to Work, but the GOP supermajority is for it.
Voters want anti-gerrymandering laws and ethics reform; the GOP supermajority doesn’t.
Voters support a higher minimum wage; the GOP supermajority does not.
And voters legalized medical cannabis, while the GOP supermajority opposes it.
The voters have spoken, and their word should be final. But it isn’t. Instead, we are devoting much of the legislative session in Jefferson City rehashing these issues. Why? Voters also elected a lot of lawmakers who, as part of the GOP supermajority, oppose those measures.
Even more galling than undoing voter initiatives, the GOP supermajority is now trying to make it harder for citizens to put issues on future ballots. That is, the GOP supermajority wants to restrict Missourians from engaging directly on important issues.
In the state Senate, I have and will continue to oppose any legislation that subverts the will of the voters or attempts to silence their voices. I will implore all of my colleagues to listen to their constituents who voted overwhelmingly in favor of these measures.
And I will do my best to return the Senate’s attention to more important matters like balancing the budget, keeping our communities safe, and building an economy that works for everyone.
I also encourage voters all over Missouri to research and watch how their elected leaders vote. Hold them accountable when they disrespect the citizenry. So long as voters send mixed signals by supporting ballot measures but electing people who oppose the same measures, we will find ourselves in this cycle of progress and regress year after year.
We must do a better job of seeing beyond party labels and matching the people we support and the policies we want enacted.
Candidates for office should disclose where they stand on ballot issues, and if they fall on the losing side, they should commit to respecting the outcome.
I do believe there are some ways to improve the process of putting questions on the ballot. For example, I support ordering policy questions first on the ballot — before the slate of candidates. This will ensure that these important questions are not missed, forgotten or ignored.
In the meantime, there are about five weeks left in the 2019 legislative session. It’d be a shame to waste that time on re-litigating issues that voters settled only six months ago.