HB 333 - This act modifies and creates several new provisions relating to the initiative and referendum process.
STANDARDIZED SIGNATURE SHEETS
(Sections 116.030 to 116.130)
The act standardizes the use of signature sheets for purposes of initiative and referendum petitions by requiring the Secretary of State to prescribe forms for such sheets. Such sheets shall be made available in an electronic format and used for all initiative and referendum petitions. Furthermore, signatures in ink other than black or blue will not be counted.
FILING OF SAMPLE SHEETS
(Sections 116.050 and 116.332)
This act requires that on each page of a proposed measure, the text of the measure shall be in 12-point Times New Roman font with one inch margins. Furthermore, no initiative petition shall declare any federal law or court decision to be void or in violation of the United States Constitution, amend any federal law or the United States Constitution, or accomplish an act that the United States Constitution requires to be accomplished by the General Assembly.
The act stipulates that sample initiative sheets shall be filed no earlier than 12 weeks following a general election.
The Secretary of State is required to collect a fee of $500 for each petition sample sheet filed with its office, with an additional $25 fee for each page that the measure exceeds two pages. Fees shall be refunded if the measure is certified for the ballot.
REPORTS ISSUED ON HEARINGS ON PROPOSED INITIATIVE PETITIONS
Under current law, the Joint Committee on Legislative Research is required to hold a hearing and take public comments regarding any initiative petition or referendum petition that receives a certificate of sufficiency from the Secretary of State. This act allows the chair of the public hearing to inquire of the petition sponsors or other witnesses regarding the history of the petition, methods of signature collection, and the interpretation of petition language.
The act further requires the Joint Committee to issue a report to the General Assembly and the Secretary of State following such hearing. The report shall be completed prior to the placement of the petition on the ballot, shall take no position on the sufficiency or desirability of any petition, and shall be available for inspection by the general public on the Secretary of State's website.
SUMMARY STATEMENTS AND SAMPLE BALLOTS
(Sections 116.160, 116.230, and 116.334)
Current law provides that the official summary statement of an initiative petition shall contain no more than 100 words and a measure proposed by the General Assembly shall contain no more than 50 words, excluding articles. This act provides that both such statements shall contain no more than 150 words total. Furthermore, the act requires each sample ballot prepared by the Secretary of State to contain the words "Shall the measure summarized be approved?" with options to vote yes or no.
DUTIES OF ATTORNEY GENERAL AND SECRETARY OF STATE
(Sections 116.332 and 116.334)
Current law requires the Attorney General and the Secretary of State to each review an initiative petition only as to form and approve or reject the petition based on compliance with the procedural requirements of the law. This act specifies that both the Attorney General and the Secretary of State shall review each petition for compliance with statutes regulating initiative petitions as well as Article III, Sections 28, 49, 50, 51 and 52(a) of the Missouri Constitution.
COURT-ORDERED CHANGES TO BALLOT TITLE
The act provides that in the event of a court-ordered change to the official ballot title, all signatures gathered prior to the change shall be invalidated.
PETITION PUBLICATIONS FUND
The act creates the Secretary of State's Petition Publications Fund. The purpose of the Petition Publications Fund is to pay any refunds to persons submitting petitions that become certified and to also pay publication expenses incurred in submitting statewide ballot measures to the voters.
This act is substantially similar to SB 149 (2021) and SB 522 (2020) and similar to SCS/SB 5 (2019), HB 290 (2109),SS/SCS/SB 893 (2018), and HCS/HB 1289 (2018).
This act has a delayed effective date of November 9, 2022.