Undertake an Initiative Campaign
Constitutional and Statutory Provisions
Historical Information (Secretary of State)
Initiative and referendum became part of Missouriís
constitution primarily as the result of a decade of work by three people: St.
Louis attorney Silas L. Moser, William Preston Hill, M.D., Ph.D., and Anna
Beard, Dr. Hillís assistant.
Moser, as president of the Missouri Direct
Legislation League, brought an I&R bill to a vote in the lower house of the
state legislature in 1900. A majority of legislators wanted to be recorded as
voting in favor of it: which is not to say that it passed, for after the roll
call showed a majority in favor, enough legislators switched their votes to make
the bill lose by one vote. In 1904 the legislature approved I&R, but Missouri
voters rejected it by a 53,000-vote margin.
Refusing to accept defeat, the I&R leaders persuaded
the legislature to pass another I&R amendment in 1907. To avoid a repeat of the
1904 disaster, they embarked on a year long voter education campaign. They
engaged the Illinois Progressive leader John Z. White to travel through the
state making four speeches a week for the entire year before the vote. Dr. Hill
prepared a three-piece mailer and sent it to all 60,000 names listed in
telephone directories throughout the state. The effort paid off when Missouriís
voters backed I&R by a 35,868-vote majority.
Missouriís most notable initiative was probably the
1940 constitutional amendment to establish a nonpartisan system for the
nomination, appointment, and retention elections of judges. This was copied by
several states and is now known as the "Missouri Plan" for judicial selection.
The first initiative to pass was a 1920 statute
requiring that a new state constitution be drawn up. The next was a 1924 measure
to provide funding for the maintenance and construction of the stateís highways,
followed in 1928 by a $75 million bond issue for further construction. Also
approved in 1924 was an initiative to allow voters in the city of St. Louis and
St. Louis County to consolidate their local governments.
In the 1930s Missouri voters enacted initiatives to
allow public employee benefits and to create a Conservation Commission to manage
fish, game, and forest resources. In 1980, the voters adopted the ďHancock
AmendmentĒ which limited state and local taxes. In 1992 a term limits initiative
was adopted and in 1994 campaign finance reform and riverboat gambling
initiatives were approved by the voters.
David Schmidt, Citizen Lawmakers: The Ballot Initiative Revolution
(Temple University Press, 1989).