Ethics reform in Missouri government is long overdue. Vote yes on Amendment 1

Campaigns hope to put progressive agenda items on voters’ ballots this fall

Earlier this year, campaigns turned in initiative petitions to put the minimum wage, medical marijuana and an ethics proposal, called Clean Missouri, before voters this fall.
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Earlier this year, campaigns turned in initiative petitions to put the minimum wage, medical marijuana and an ethics proposal, called Clean Missouri, before voters this fall.

Ethics reform in Jefferson City is long overdue. On Tuesday, Missouri voters need to do what lawmakers would not and clean up state government.

Amendment 1, which offers several changes to the state’s constitution, would impose much-needed changes in Jefferson City. The amendment known as Clean Missouri would:

establish a two-year waiting period before ex-lawmakers and former legislative employees can lobby

prohibit lobbyist gifts to lawmakers of more than $5

limit campaign contributions to $2,500 for state senators and $2,000 for state representatives

establish a “nonpartisan state demographer” who will help draw fair legislative districts

make more legislative records available to the public

These reforms should not be controversial — or partisan.

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The revolving door between lawmakers and lobbyists turns constantly. The amendment would not prohibit former members from lobbying forever. But a two-year waiting period would help sever the connection between working for the people and working for private interests.

The most scrutinized part of the Clean Missouri initiative calls for changes to the redistricting process. Under the proposal, a new, nonpartisan state demographer would draw legislative maps.

The demographer would be chosen from a pool of applicants, with the state auditor, state Senate majority leader and state Senate minority leader involved in the selection process.

Some Republicans oppose Clean Missouri because a fair approach to redistricting could cost them seats. Of course, they might feel differently about gerrymandering if Democrats were in power.

Now, lines are drawn to create districts dominated by one party or the other, former Sen. Jack Danforth said. He is exactly right. Safe seats dot the Missouri landscape both in Congress and in the General Assembly.

A more equitable redistricting process would be welcome, said Gwendolyn Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City. Amendment 1 will make Missouri a national leader in protecting the voting power of communities of color, she said.

“We hear a lot of promises about making our democracy more responsive to the people, but the legislature has repeatedly failed to deliver,” Grant said.

Corruption and ethics issues have plagued Missouri government for too long. And lawmakers have been unwilling to address obvious problems. It’s up to voters to approve Amendment 1 for needed ethics reforms in Jefferson City.

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