Editorials

Overturning the voters’ decision on Clean Missouri would be dirty politics

Voters overwhelmingly approved the Clean Missouri ballot initiative.
Voters overwhelmingly approved the Clean Missouri ballot initiative. The Star

There are signs that disgruntled Missouri Republicans — and some Democrats — want to overturn the ethics reforms passed just last week by voters.

Such talk should stop now. Any attempt to revise or rescind the so-called Clean Missouri initiative, either by the legislature or the courts, should infuriate the state’s voters.

The message on Nov. 6 was clear: Reform is needed in Jefferson City, and Clean Missouri is a start.

The initiative, you’ll recall, amends the Missouri Constitution. It forces former legislators to wait longer before cashing in on their public service to become lobbyists; it opens up the records of the legislature; it modestly restricts campaign fundraising; and it limits lobbyist gifts.

The measure also changes the way Missouri’s state legislative districts are drawn. That part of the amendment appears to have angered the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, which has bitterly opposed Clean Missouri.

Some Democrats, including a number of African-American politicians, have objected as well. Before the election, Freedom Inc. in Kansas City claimed Clean Missouri would dilute minority representation in the legislature. The organization urged a no vote on the amendment.

Voters did not agree. They knew that Clean Missouri would establish a redistricting process that would be less partisan and far more fair. They also knew that the other ethics reforms would bring needed transparency to state government.

The Clean Missouri initiative was approved by a 2-to-1 margin in Kansas City south of the river, and by even bigger margins in Clay, Platte, and eastern Jackson counties.

Statewide, Clean Missouri passed handily, 62-38 percent. It wasn’t a close call, and Missourians knew exactly what they were voting for.

Groups opposed to Clean Missouri claim voters were misled during the fall campaign. They want a judge to throw the amendment out or convince lawmakers to put a new redistricting measure on the 2020 ballot.

Circumventing voters is something of a habit in Missouri, as we know. Since 2000, lawmakers overturned a voter-approved measure related to animal protection and overrode the voters’ verdict on concealed weapons.

Incredibly, there are suggestions the legislature may try to impose right-to-work rules again, or take another look at the minimum wage, despite the clear verdict from voters on both issues this year. Now, the General Assembly may want to overturn Clean Missouri.

Lawmakers should walk away from these efforts to break faith with voters. Missouri has enormous problems, including the lack of health insurance for the working poor, struggling schools, crumbling infrastructure and crime in urban areas. The legislature has plenty to do.

What lawmakers should not do is ignore their constituents. Clean Missouri passed, fair and square, and will become law in December.

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