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Mo. House Committee Passes Special Elections Bill

A Missouri House committee has overwhelmingly passed legislation that would require special elections to fill vacancies in statewide offices.

House Bill 110 would require special elections if the office of Lt. Governor or any other statewide office is suddenly vacated.  It would allow the Governor to only appoint a placeholder who would temporarily fill the office but not be eligible to run in the special election.  It’s sponsored by House Speaker Pro-tem Jason Smith (R, Salem).

“The statute provides that whoever is placed as the temporary placeholder cannot run in the following election," Smith said.  "They would have to stand out at least two years.”

The bill is being pushed largely because of a potential vacancy in the Lt. Governor’s office – Peter Kinder is one of several Republicans seeking to replace southeast Missouri Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (R).  That’s one of the reasons why State Representative Stacey Newman (D, Richmond Heights) cast the lone "no" vote.

“That potential has been there for some time, and I think if that wasn’t part of the discussion we wouldn’t be pushing this so fast," Newman said.

Newman also objects to the temporary placeholder provision.  She says she doubts that language would even exist if the current Governor were a Republican.

Smith is also seeking to succeed Emerson in Congress.

The House Committee on Elections passed the bill 11-1.  It would also mandate that special elections for vacant statewide offices be held in November to save money on election costs -- and it has an emergency clause, meaning that it would take effect immediately once it's signed into law by the governor.  The bill has another committee stop before going before the full House, but at the speed it’s being handled that could happen as early as next week.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

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Missouri Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a proud alumnus of the University of Mississippi (a.k.a., Ole Miss), and has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off the old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Mason, and their cat, Honey.
Marshall Griffin
St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.