Constitutional convention fails, three proposed amendments pass

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Associated Press Writer

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri voters weren't prepared to authorize a complete overhaul of the Missouri Constitution but were willing to make three changes to the state's current document.

A proposal to authorize a constitutional convention failed by a nearly 2-to-1 margin -- 66 percent to 34 percent -- in Tuesday's election, with 99 percent of precincts reporting on all constitutional issues.

In the past two tries, in 1962 and 1982, the measure was soundly rejected. Since statehood in 1821, Missouri has had four constitutions.

There have been seven constitutional conventions in Missouri since 1820. The current state constitution requires votes every 20 years on whether to hold a convention to consider a rewrite of the document.

Constitutional Amendment 1, which gives St. Louis city voters the right to amend or revise the city's charter, was supported by 70 percent of those casting ballots.

"I am elated and we certainly did not expect the victory to be this big," said Marit Clark, president of Yes for Amendment One. "I am pleased that the entire state of Missouri had confidence in the citizens of St. Louis to restructure their own government."

St. Louis area officials and business leaders have led the campaign for the home rule amendment, arguing it would give the city the same powers already enjoyed by other large cities. Clark said the it is a positive step that state lawmakers will no longer have to deal with issues regarding many St. Louis issues.

Constitutional Amendment 3, which alters voter-approved term limits, had 54 percent of the vote. The measure is designed so lawmakers elected to partial terms would not have that time included in their total legislative service.

The modification to term limits was referred to the ballot by the Legislature because of concerns that those elected to partial terms were being unfairly penalized by the limits.

Constitutional Amendment 4 repeals a provision of state law that subjects municipal utilities to state regulation if they join together to build or buy an electric or natural gas plant. The measure received 58 percent of the vote.

"People who pay electric bills will win because we'll be able to restrain the pressures to increase costs as we meet the growing power needs of Missourians," said Duncan Kincheloe, general manager of the Missouri Public Utility Alliance, which represents the state's 88 municipal electric and 42 natural gas utilities.

Support for the utility proposal has come from Gov. Bob Holden, former Republican state auditor Margaret Kelley and former Democratic secretary of state Bekki Cook, among others.

Constitutional Amendment 2, which would grant firefighters and emergency workers collective bargaining rights, failed by 51 percent of the vote.

"We're very disappointed," said John Corbett, president of the Missouri State Council of Fire Fighters, which supported the measure. "I guess we just didn't get the message out. But people can know that they can always count on firefighters."

The measure was placed on the ballot more than a year after Holden signed an executive order authorizing collective bargaining for thousands of state employees, which came under intense scrutiny from Republicans and business groups.


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