Missouri lawmakers open session focused on ballot measures

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers on Wednesday returned to work for a session that Republican leader have said will focus on making it harder to amend Missouri’s Constitution.

GOP lawmakers have been trying for years to crack down on ballot initiatives, which have been used to enact policies that the Republican-led Legislature either avoided dealing with or opposed.

For example, voters in November voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in response to inaction by lawmakers. A 2020 citizen-led ballot initiative forced the state to expand Medicaid coverage, despite years of resistance from Republicans.

Advocates chose to make changes through constitutional amendments to make it harder for lawmakers to undo voter-approved policies, but that also makes it more difficult to address unforeseen policy issues.

Republican lawmakers now are wrestling over whether to make it more challenging for residents to put policies to a public vote or increase the percentage of votes needed to pass constitutional amendments.

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