The Missouri Senate voted Thursday to change and weaken Proposition B, the puppy mill law that was approved by voters last November in a statewide vote. Also on the chopping block is the minimum wage law approved in 2006, by a 73% majority. On March the 3rd, the Missouri House passed HB61, which would strip that law of the cost of living increase and prohibit the Missouri minimum wage from exceeding the federal minimum wage. Oh, and they are also in the process of weakening the renewable energy requirements for Missouri utility companies that were also approved by voters in 2006, by a 66% majority.
This is not the first time the Missouri Legislature has overturned the results of a voter initiated referendum. In 1999 a statewide referendum to allow concealed weapons was rejected by voters only to have the state legislature pass a conceal and carry law in 2003. In that case and with the current issues, the argument of legislators is that voters just don't understand the issues.
So the question is, why do we bother having a ballot initiative process at all? Why have a system in which citizens can petition to get issues put on a statewide ballot only to have the state legislature nullify the results? Clearly the elected officials in Jefferson City view the general public as too dim witted to decide important issues. One provision of SB113, the bill that would replace Prop B, raises questions about the legislators' collective intelligence: it would replace the requirement for yearly hands on veterinarian examinations of dogs with walk-through "visual inspections". Think about that. If you took your dog to the veterinarian for his annual check up and all the vet did was glance at your pet as he walked by, you'd never take Fido to that veterinarian again.
During the debate over SB113 only one amendment was offered, it would have put the new puppy mill bill up to a statewide vote. It was defeated on a "voice vote". Some would argue that voice votes, (in which there is no record of how legislators voted), should not be allowed in the Missouri Legislature. If elected officials are doing the people's business they should do it out in the open. Maybe we can start a petition to get a referendum on the Missouri ballot.
This article also available at http://www.examiner.com/political-buzz-in-st-louis/missouri-legislators-ready-to-overrule-voters