With an eye toward preventing the governor from appointing a new lieutenant governor, the Missouri House passed a bill Wednesday that aims to clarify how some elected officials would be replaced if they leave office early. The chamber approved the bill, which would require that openings in most statewide offices be filled through special elections, in a 115-45 vote, making it the first major piece of legislation to successfully pass a chamber this session. In order to become law, the bill must also be approved by the Senate and signed by the governor. Though the legislation isn’t directly tied to Missouri’s 8th District Congressional vacancy and would not change how former U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson is replaced, the special election has motivated lawmakers to move quickly on the bill.
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Cape Girardeau native with strong roots in southeastern Missouri, is considered a frontrunner among the dozen or so Republicans currently seeking the post in the heavily GOP leaning-district. Kinder’s candidacy could hinge on how he would be replaced in the lieutenant governor’s office.
Lieutenant governor vacancies in the past have been filled through gubernatorial appointment, but the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jason Smith, said the law was unclear.
“It needs to be addressed,” said House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka.
Smith, a Republican from Salem also eyeing the 8th District seat, said he sponsored the bill for “legal reasons, not political reasons” – even if that means it could hurt his chances of securing the nomination, while giving Kinder a boost.
Full Article: Missouri House passes elections bill : Stltoday.