Disagreement in Mo. government on how to fill empty offices

Jan 10, 2013

Credit File Photo / KBIA

Aside from Medicaid expansion, the most talked-about issue so far during the just-begun Missouri legislative session is whether Gov. Jay Nixon has the authority to appoint a new Lt. Gov. if Peter Kinder succeeds Republican Jo Ann Emerson in Congress.

Following his annual prayer breakfast, Gov. Nixon told reporters he believes he has the authority to appoint a new lieutenant governor if the office suddenly becomes vacant.

“The two times in recent history where that position has become open for reasons, the governor has appointed a lieutenant governor and those folks served, so I think history would say that that authority lies there,” he said.

GOP House Speaker Pro-tem Jason Smith disagrees.  He’s sponsoring a bill that would allow special elections for all vacated statewide offices.  Smith says current law requires special elections for some offices, including lieutenant governor, but he also says the law does not clearly define how a special election for lieutenant governor is to be carried out.