St. Louis Beacon, September 3, 2012
Legal challenges won’t go forward to get initiatives raising the minimum wage and restricting “payday” loans on the ballot, according to organizers of the two efforts.
Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s office announced in August that initiative petitions to raise the minimum wage to $8.25 an hour and restrict interest rates on payday loans didn’t receive enough signatures in two St. Louis-based congressional districts. Spokespeople for the campaigns signaled they would pursue legal means to reexamine the decision.
But the two groups announced in a joint press release sent out on Monday morning that they would “suspend” their legal challenge, noting that the groups “reluctantly concluded that the legal hurdles erected by the payday lending industry, their allies and their lawyers are too high for us to cross before the Sept. 21 deadline for finalizing the November ballot.”
“The people of Missouri have the right to place important public policy issues on the ballot. Initiative petitions should be a matter of volunteer efforts and debate,” said Rev. Dr. Jim Hill, president of Missouri Faith Voices, in a statement. “Unfortunately, opponents have taken that right from the people, and subjected it into a battle of legal attrition.”
Added Martin Rafanan, executive director of Gateway 180: Homelessness Reversed: “We are sad to report that the payday industry and minimum wage opponents’ unprecedented legal challenges effectively disenfranchised thousands of Missourians. It is another example of big monied corporate interests displacing the people’s interests in the democratic process.”
The press release added that the groups would continue pursuing their efforts in the future.
The minimum wage item would have raised the state’s threshold from $7.25 an hour to $8.25 an hour. Among other things, it also would have adjusted the state’s minimum wage based on the Consumer Price Index. The “payday loan” initiative would have capped interest rates on such loans at 36 percent.
Ballot items that will appear on November’s ballot include a tobacco tax increase, an effort to remove state control of the St. Louis Police Department and a constitutional amendment to reconfigure how the state’s judges to the Missouri Supreme Court and Missouri Court of Appeals are selected.
Voters will also decide on a measure barring the governor from setting up a health-insurance exchange through an executive order.