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UPDATE: 2 Missouri initiative petitions qualify for ballot

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 | 3:53 p.m. CDT; updated 4:30 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 3, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri voters will get to decide in November on measures to further regulate dog breeding and bar new cities from adopting earnings taxes, but they won't get to weigh in on measures that would change the way judges are picked or block transfer taxes on real estate sales.

Petitions to add the dog breeding and city earnings tax measures received enough valid signatures to make the November ballot, but the other two fell short, the secretary of state's office said Tuesday.

Under the dog-breeding ballot measure, people could only have 50 breeding dogs and they would be required to feed animals daily, provide annual veterinary care and not breed animals more than twice every 18 months. Breeders also would have to follow rules for the dogs' living space and house animals indoors with unfettered access to an outdoor exercise yard.

It would apply to people with at least 10 female dogs for breeding. Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to 15 days in jail and a $300 fine.

Supporters call it the "Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act." But critics warn it would affect licensed dog breeders that follow the rules and could make it more expensive to buy pet dogs. Others fear the measure could be a precursor to additional regulations for animal agriculture.

The other proposal to qualify for the ballot would bar additional cities from adopting an earnings tax. If approved by voters, it also would require people living in St. Louis and Kansas City to approve their municipalities' existing earnings tax and renew it every five years.

For an initiative petition changing a state law to qualify for the ballot, it takes signatures from 5 percent of the voters in 2008 governor election from six of Missouri's nine congressional districts. That amounts to between 91,818 and 99,600 signatures. For constitutional amendments, it takes 8 percent from six of the nine congressional districts, which is 146,907 to 159,359.

Supporters of the real estate ballot measure said they believed they had submitted enough signatures and planned to file a lawsuit to get the proposal on the ballot.

According to the secretary of state's office, there were enough signatures from four congressional districts. The group fell about 4,300 signatures short in the 3rd Congressional District near St. Louis and about 1,300 signatures short in the 9th Congressional District that includes northeastern Missouri and Columbia.

Attorney Chuck Hatfield said in a news release that he believed some mistakes had been made by local election officials in determining whether signatures were valid.

The other ballot measure that did not qualify for the ballot — which dealt with selecting judges — did not come nearly as close.

Supporters collected enough signatures from one congressional district in the St. Louis area. But they did not come within 7,500 signatures of what is required in any of the other congressional districts.

Under that ballot measure, all judges would be selected in traditional partisan elections. Currently, people interested in becoming judges for appeals and urban trial courts apply to special nominating panels that forward three finalists to the governor, who then appoints one.

That system is used for the state Supreme Court; three regional appeals courts; and trial courts in St. Louis city and Clay, Greene, Jackson, Platte and St. Louis counties. The judges then stand for periodic retention elections.


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