Democrat Says Missouri House Republicans May Lack Votes For 'Religious Shield' Amendment

Apr 23, 2016

A leader of the Missouri House Democrats says a controversial constitutional amendment to protect "religious freedom" may not have the votes to get out of committee.

Last week, the House Emerging Issues Committee delayed a vote on the "religious shield" measure, SJR 39. Supporters say the proposal, if approved by the General Assembly and the voters, would protect business owners and clergy from penalties if they decline to participate in same-sex weddings on religious grounds. 

Rep. Jon Carpenter (D-Gladstone), the House Democratic Caucus Vice-Chair, joined KCUR's Statehouse Blend podcast this weekend to discuss SJR 39. He told host Brian Ellison he thinks Republicans are delaying a vote because they may not have the votes necessary to pass the legislation.

"That's why it hasn't gotten voted out of committee yet, because there are at least two, three or four Republicans on that committee who are hesitant or outright opposed," said Carpenter.

SJR 39 would have to pass two committees before getting to the House floor. Carpenter said he thinks it's possible the bill couldn't pass if it was brought to the floor.

"Between unified Democratic opposition and then a handful of Republican members too, that might be enough to stop this," he said.

As a constitutional amendment, the measure would require approval from voters later this year. Carpenter said he's confident voters would turn it down, even if legislators don't.

"Frankly, I think it would lose on the ballot," said Carpenter. "My concern is even the campaign will do damage to our state."

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Guests:

  • Rep. Jon Carpenter (D-Clay), Missouri House of Representatives
  • Barbara Shelly, Former Columnist, The Kansas City Star