The popularity of numerous ballot issues in recent years has demonstrated how out of touch Missouri’s legislature is, but nothing has exposed the reasons the legislature is so out of touch as much as CLEAN Missouri did in 2018. By promising to get partisanship out of the redistricting process, CLEAN offered Missourians hope for a more responsive and accountable legislature- something the current legislature was determined to stop.
SJR38, which was to become Amendment 3, began in the Missouri Senate in January of 2020, showing the prioritization of the issue for the legislature. Through a contentious legislative process the bill was exposed to be filled with “errors”, but the legislative moved it forward anyway, spending more time on it than on meeting the needs of Missourians suffering under the most pandemic in decades.
The legislature’s hope in Amendment 3 was to use their greatest advantage to maximum effect. Unlike citizen referred initiatives, whose ballot summaries are written by the Secretary of State, the legislature got to write their own description of what Amendment 3 would do. They described their over 5,000 word proposal as an attempt to crack down on lobbyists and political donors, despite the fact that CLEAN had already accomplished that. Despite two different judges ruling that their ballot summary was “likely to mislead” voters, their language largely appeared on the ballot on November 3rd. Early polling suggested an easy victory for the proponents of Amendment 3 if voters were not informed about what was truly up their sleeve.
To combat this trickery, Jobs with Justice hosted a statewide Workers Rights’ Board hearing on Amendment 3 in June and published a powerful report exposing the lies and misinformation surrounding the initiative. Despite the exhaustion of our August victory on Amendment 2, our volunteers again gathered and helped place nearly two million phone calls and over one million texts warning Missouri voters about the deception on their ballot. Unfortunately, our opponents advantage was just a bit too much to overcome. On November 4th, Missourians hoping to further crack down on the power of special interest instead were manipulated into returning power to them. Amendment 3 passed with less than a 2% margin.
While Amendment 3 allows for some dangerous changes to our redistricting process, it does not require them. Jobs with Justice will continue to monitor the redistricting process to insure that Missourians are fairly counted and our districts are fairly drawn. The fight for a more accountable legislature through more fair elections is far from over.