Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hancock Scrambling on Petition Legislator Blames Officals for Slowing Down Process

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hancock Scrambling on Petition Legislator Blames Officals for Slowing Down Process

Article excerpt

Hancock has been delayed in getting his "Hancock II" proposal cleared by the secretary of state and the attorney general. They must approve the title of the proposal on the initiative petitions. Hancock blamed Secretary of State Judi Moriarty and Attorney General Jay Nixon, both Democrats. "Obviously, they are trying to slow this down as much as possible," he said.

But Hancock has caused some of the delay. He revised the wording of his proposed constitutional amendment - to meet objections from cities, which said that his proposed restrictions on local tax and fee increases were too tight. Hancock relaxed them somewhat, but he still faces the possibility that the Missouri Municipal League will oppose "Hancock II" if it reaches the ballot on Nov. 8. In 1980, voters passed the Hancock Amendment to the Missouri Constitution. The amendment requires public votes on local tax increases and says that state revenue cannot increase faster than the rate of growth in personal income. After Gov. Mel Carnahan, a Democrat, signed a $315 million income tax increase that the Legislature passed last year - without referring it to a statewide referendum - Hancock launched "Hancock II." It would force a vote on state-tax increases, the same as local-tax increases. Hancock wanted to be able to begin circulating petitions by Dec. 7. He needs to collect 130,000 signatures of registered voters by July 8 to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot.

When Moriarty and Nixon failed to clear the ballot title within a 30-day period provided, Hancock filed suit on Dec. 14. Moriarty and Nixon announced that they had approved it that day. On Dec. 17, Hancock submitted his revision, and this started the 30-day approval period over again. Hancock said it was only a minor change that Moriarty and Nixon could approve quickly, but they have yet to act.

Despite the revision, Gary Markenson, executive director of the Missouri Municipal League, said the Hancock II language remains too restrictive. …

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