Though it is cold outside, things have started to heat up in Jefferson City. Bills have been filed, committees have started to meet, and legislation has already been debated in the House chamber. Session is in full swing.
Earlier this week, the Missouri House voted on its first piece of legislation of the 97th General Assembly. House Bill 110, sponsored by Representative Jason Smith was read for a third time and upon its approval was sent to the Senate. HB 110 ensures that the power to select statewide office holders remains in the possession of the people.
Currently, based on precedent, the Governor has the authority to fill a vacancy in the office of Lt. Governor. HB 110 simply clarifies state statute to say that the Governor can fill the vacancy until the time of the next general election. Until that point, the appointee would serve as the formal placeholder. Then on election day, the people would then elect a new individual to fill the vacancy.
Representative Smith has carried this particular piece of legislation for the past few years. I feel as if it is a common sense approach to handling a vacancy in office which protects the power of the people to have their voices heard.
While the House was perfecting HB 110 I was able to add two cost saving amendments to the bill. First, I offered a provision which would change the required percentage of defeat of the votes cast when a candidate, who filed with the Secretary of State, must be allowed a recount. As of the now the required percentage is less than 1% of votes cast. My amendment changes this to defeat by less than one-half of 1% of the votes cast. This provision does not deny a candidate the right to a recount, but rather limits the occurrences when an automatic recount would have to be performed; saving both money and man hours on an action that rarely alters the outcome of an election.
Also, I proposed an amendment to change the date of the presidential primary election from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in February to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March. Hopefully, this will help Missouri avoid future situations such as the one which occurred last year when Missouri wasted money on a non-binding presidential primary election. Both amendments were approved and included in the version of HB 110 that was sent to the Senate.
Next week promises to be a busy week as well. I have two bills scheduled for a public hearing in the House Committee on Elections in addition to the regular business of the People’s House. I look forward to continuing to be your voice in Jefferson City as session continues.
As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri House.