Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Change in Ballot Wording High Court Upholds Hancock Description

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Change in Ballot Wording High Court Upholds Hancock Description

Article excerpt

Backers of Hancock II hit a legal dead-end on Thursday when the Missouri Supreme Court declined to rewrite a ballot description of the measure.

The Missouri Supreme Court refused to order changes in the ballot's fiscal summary. The wording on the Nov. 8 ballot will read that Hancock II could cause state spending cuts ranging from $1 billion to $5 billion.

Supporters of Hancock II, which would force popular votes on most tax increases, wanted the judges to reverse the Court of Appeals-Western District.

But the judges let the appeals panel's wording stand, by dispatching the case back to the lower court without making any changes.

The Court of Appeals had reversed the supporters' only victory in the legal process - a ruling by Cole County Circuit Judge James McHenry that the ballot fiscal summary approved by a legislative panel was unfair and unwarranted.

It is that legislative-approved summary that will now appear before voters on Hancock II, appearing on the ballot as proposed Amendment 7.

The Supreme Court issued its order a half-hour after hearing arguments from state attorneys that it was too late to change the language on nearly 3 million ballots already printed and distributed.

The order, signed by Chief Justice Ann K. Covington for the seven-member court, stated: "Cause ordered retransferred to the Missouri Court of Appeals-Western District."

The proposal's biggest backer, Rep. Mel Hancock, played down the court's decision.

"I don't think people will believe it, even though the Court of Appeals said it. They shouldn't believe it because it won't cost that much. There is no way it can do that," the Republican congressman from the Ozarks said.

Hancock said he and his allies will try to publicize their much lower estimates of the projected financial impact of Hancock II.

"We are going to do the best we can," Hancock said. …

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