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Judge orders transfer tax initiative onto Mo. ballot

By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – An initiative to bar real estate transfer taxes in Missouri has been ordered placed on the November ballot by a Cole County judge.

Missouri currently does not have a real estate transfer tax, which would be levied whenever a piece of property changes hands. The ballot question to prevent it from being used in Missouri is sponsored by Jefferson City attorney Chuck Hatfield.

"(It would) basically (be) taxing property that's already been taxed," Hatfield said. "(We are trying) to be proactive and make sure that we don't have to deal with some local jurisdiction trying to tax people's homes."

Circuit Judge Paul Wilson ruled that errors made when some voters signed petitions were not reason enough to block the initiative.

"His ruling very thoroughly goes through all the issues involved, and says that if enough Missouri citizens get together and sign an initiative, that initiative goes on the ballot and people have a right to vote on it," Hatfield said.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan disagrees with the ruling and will appeal. Her office issued the following statement:

"Our office follows Missouri law when determining whether enough valid signatures have been submitted to place an initiative petition on the ballot. In this ruling, the judge found that our office correctly followed the law when we found that an insufficient number of signatures were submitted."

"However, the judge also determined that a court does not have to follow those same laws when evaluating a petition, and raised questions about their constitutionality."

"The initiative petition process is only fair if the legal requirements are clearly defined. We will be appealing this decision so that voters, as well as Local Election Authorities and all Missourians, have a clear understanding of what is required to place a question on the ballot."

Carnahan is also the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Kit Bond.