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Initiative petition reform fails in Missouri Legislature, senior property tax relief passes

State Rep. Jon Patterson reflects on 2024 session
Mo Rep Jon Patterson.png
Posted at 6:21 PM, May 20, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s 2024 legislative session ended without passage of a plan to change the state’s initiative petition process, but several other measures are now awaiting Gov. Mike Parson’s signature to become law.

The initiative petition process allows citizens to gather signatures to place items on a statewide ballot. Proposals to change the state’s constitution require a simple majority to pass.

Republicans wanted to raise the threshold necessary for an initiative petition to pass. They proposed requiring petitions to pass by a simple majority in a majority of Missouri’s eight congressional districts to become law.

“It (Missouri Constitution) really shouldn’t be something we’re changing every other year. That’s one of the reasons we looked at this,” explained Rep. Jon Patterson, a Republican from Lee’s Summit who served as House Majority Leader.

Several initiatives submitted signatures to appear on ballots this fall including proposals to legalize abortion, sports wagering and raise the minimum wage.

The group Missourians for Constitutional Freedom collected signatures for the abortion petition. Spokesperson Tori Schafer said not reforming the initiative petition process keeps the playing field level.

“They (voters) are going to be able to fairly cast a ballot,” Schafer said. “We are so grateful for the opportunity that Missourians have made for our state to put this measure on the ballot. It is a simple majority to pass. This is true from our democracy.”

Patterson believes the legislature will debate the topic again in 2025.

This year, leaders in Jefferson City did send a bill to Gov. Parson that clarifies a 2023 law essentially freezing property taxes for seniors.

Senate Bill 756 clarifies any senior 62 years old and over qualifies for a credit on the property tax of their primary residence. 2023’s version of the law only allowed Social Security recipients to be eligible.

Patterson said the goal is to keep seniors on fixed incomes from being priced out of their homes by rising property taxes.

“That’s a heartbreaking call to receive, and I receive numerous calls like that,” Patterson said. “So to be able to get something like this done where seniors get property tax relief, that was a huge win for Missourians, seniors and I’m glad we were able to do it.”

The House and Senate also passed a $51 billion budget, which Patterson said sets aside $7.5 million for redevelopment along Kansas City’s Berkley Riverfront Park, among other perks for the metro.

Earlier this month, Parson signed a bill into law changing the way the state approves landfills on the border of Kansas City’s limits. The law prevented developers from building a landfill near Raymore.

While the legislature did not pass a sports wagering bill, the group Winning for Missouri Education submitted an initiative petition to place a question on a ballot later this year.

The state also renewed the FRA, a program to fund Medicaid, but it was done so by excluding organizations that provide abortions from reimbursement eligibility.