When State Rep. John Simmons, R-Krakow, entered the Missouri House of Representatives for the first time in January of this year, he said he was going to watch, listen and learn before filing a lot of his own bills.
Now, he is ready to dive into the deep end and already has bills ready when prefiling for the 2020 legislative session begins Monday, Dec. 2.
“I will be sponsoring at least three bills, all related to our election system,” Simmons said. “I will refile in some form, a similar bill heard last session in the Elections Committee, that deals with the initiative petition process and its potential affect on our state constitution, which needs to be protected from abuse.”
Simmons has learned from the Secretary of States’s office how individuals or groups abuse the system and unload a massive amount of petition requests, all dealing with slight variations of the same subject.
“They game the system to see which petition takes off or gets to the finish line of requirements,” he said. “All the while, there are taxpayer resources used and taxpayer resources misdirected because of the flood of requests. Special interests with deep pockets on both sides of the aisle like to take advantage of this.”
Simmons added another issue with the process which needs to be addressed is the low vote percentage threshold to pass a constitutional ballot initiative. He will reintroduce a bill to raise the threshold percentage similarly to the U.S. Constitution, at two-thirds or at least 60 percent.
“We have a low threshold of just 50 percent plus one,” Simmons said. “That may be fine for statutory ballot initiatives in which the people’s legislature can still have the responsibility and opportunity to weigh in. The majority of states don’t even have an IP process. They rightly leave it to the legislative process, by which the people’s representatives consider all aspects of these issues.”
He added with low voter turnout in some years, and in some off-year elections, these ballot proposals affecting constitutional rights could be passed by less than 20 percent of the electorate voting.
Simmons also plans to file a bill that allows the people to vote on protecting Missouri against the national popular vote compact some states have adopted for presidential elections.
“That compact or agreement amongst states who are bound by this agree that presidential election electors of those states would cast their ballot for president in the Electoral College, not for the winner of their state’s popular vote,” Simmons said. “Even if that means changing and switching completely opposite to the vote by which the state popular vote was actually cast.”
Simmons explained if this system was adopted in 2016, all 10 presidential electors in Missouri would have been cast for Hillary Clinton even though Donald Trump won by over 18 percent vote differential in Missouri.
“It’s a terrible idea, promoted by progressive, socialist forces who want to change the rules of the game,” Simmons said. “They don’t like the unusual result of President Trump losing the national popular vote but overwhelmingly winning the Electoral College. Missouri and the less populated midwest would certainly be ignored in national presidential politics while the attention would be centered at the coasts with higher population centers.”
Lastly, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Simmons are crafting similar legislation which was introduced last year in regard to where to pay filing fees for state elected office and giving the chief election officer of the state subpoena power of papers, files, and documents in order to perform his/her duty of overseeing the integrity and security of elections and the process by which they are administered.
“We have recent cases of election fraud in Kansas City and we have to be constantly vigilant to protect our sacred right to vote, make it count once, and only once for the person or issue we intended to vote for afterall,” Simmons said.
“It won’t require legislation, but I will be watchful of the Missouri Department of Transportation’s (MoDOT) future budgets and approval process the city of Union seeks for the new proposed reroute of the Highways 47 and 50 interchange layout,” Simmons said. “It will ultimately require a large grant line item in the federal budget transportation bill, and since a new six-year transportation plan is coming up for renewal/extension next year, I hope to help facilitate our Franklin County delegation offering letters of need and support to our U.S. senators and congressman to see that project get fast tracked sooner than later.”