Special-elections bill gets first-round approval in House

Jan 23, 2013
Originally published on January 22, 2013 9:43 pm

The Missouri House has given first-round approval to legislation that would require special elections to fill vacancies in statewide offices.

If passed, House Bill 110 would only allow the Governor to appoint a temporary placeholder who would not be eligible to run in the special election.  House Speaker Pro-tem Jason Smith (R, Salem), the bill’s sponsor, says it’s not a deliberate swipe at Democratic Governor Jay Nixon.

“I think it’s a good idea just to prevent the power of incumbency, I’ve said that numerous times," Smith told reporters after the perfection vote.  "There’s only been one Democrat that has showed any concern so far in a recorded vote, and that was in committee -- three Democrats did support it, including the ranking member, on the Elections Committee.”

However, three Democrats on the Rules Committee voted against the proposal as well.  State Representative Stacey Newman (D, Richmond Heights) says that provision, in her opinion, is unconstitutional.

“Since 1875, the Governor’s been able to appoint, regardless of when the vacancies occur, and we know that in previous administrations statewide offices have come open,” Newman said.

Republican leaders have fast-tracked the bill through the House in the event that Lt. Governor Peter Kinder (R) is chosen to replace Jo Ann Emerson (R), who officially vacated her Congressional seat Tuesday.  The House is expected to vote on the bill again Wednesday and send it over to the Missouri Senate.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Copyright 2013 KWMU-FM. To see more, visit http://www.stlpublicradio.org.