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