Thursday, June 2, 2011

Missouri State Rep Raises Specter of Gubernatorial Veto on Presidential Primary Bill

Democratic Missouri representative, Tom Shively (D-8th, Shelbyville), in a column in today's Linn County Leader, raised doubt as to whether SB 282 -- the legislation passed by the Missouri General Assembly to move the presidential primary back to March -- would be signed by Governor Jay Nixon. But the veto would not arise because of the presidential primary provision. No, what is at issue instead is a provision in the bill curtailing gubernatorial power -- specifically the power of appointment to statewide offices in the event of a vacancy.

Although Nixon hasn’t publicly announced his intentions on [sic] HB 282, governors typically don’t give up power voluntarily, and another provision of the bill would take away the gubernatorial authority to appoint replacements to vacancies in the offices of U.S. senator, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, state auditor and attorney general. Such vacancies are uncommon but are seen as golden opportunities for a governor to shape the political landscape when they do occur. [sic] HB 282 would require that such vacancies be filled by special election.
This is an interesting conundrum for Nixon. He faces, on the one hand, curbing his and future Missouri governors' powers, but on the other, the very likely stiff penalties on the Show Me state's Democratic delegation from the DNC for willingly violating the national party's delegate selection rules. Legislators (and governors) who do not actively seek to remedy such a conflict are subject to penalties equal to the 50% penalty called for in the rules (Rule 20.C.1.a, Rule 20.C.7). As Shively also mentions a veto override is possible, but would require the support of at least three Democrats in the state House (the margin is more comfortable for Republicans in the state Senate.). But the Democratic caucus in the state House would face the same sort of dilemma Nixon is staring down on this issue, except the legislators would not have as great a need to preserve executive power.

The writing seems like it is on the wall on this one. If FHQ had to guess, we would guess that Nixon will sign the bill if a veto override is likely. [Of course he didn't do that on the recent redistricting plan legislation when four Democratic representatives joined Republicans in overriding the governor's veto.]

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