Last year, I sponsored a bill, which was passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor, making voting easier for deployed military members. As a veteran who served and voted from overseas, I was happy to take the lead on that bill. This year, I am hoping to make it easier for deployed military members to actually file for office.
In 2004, I was deployed with the U.S. Army Reserve in Iraq. Prior to leaving, and while deployed, I was considering filing to run for state representative. Once I finalized that decision, I had to take leave and fly home to actually file for office and get in the first-day lottery for ballot placement. Those who file for local offices need to physically stand in line for ballot placement. That requirement puts an unfair burden on those who are serving our country.
To correct the problem, I filed Senate Bill 580, which allows deployed military members and disabled Missourians to use a proxy to stand in line or draw lottery numbers for placement of their names on the ballot. This is a simple measure to allow those Missourians equal access to filing for office.
In addition to filing SB 580, I am also carrying House Bill 1125, which creates the same process, in the Senate. Since we want to pass this measure prior to candidate filing opening on Feb. 25, and the House bill is moving faster, the Senate “Truly Agreed and Finally Passed” HB 1125 this week.
Once again, I am proud to support the men and women who give up many things to serve our country. They should not have to endure a difficult time voting, nor filing for office. Last year’s Senate Bill 116 and this year’s SB 580 and HB 1125 assure their rights are preserved.
Several months ago, I wrote about the numerous open positions on Missouri’s boards and commissions. For whatever reason, the governor has moved very slowly on making appointments. Many boards and commissions are having difficulty reaching quorums, or are operating with all or the majority of their members serving expired terms. While I have reached out by offering names for specific positions, none of those people have been selected. In addition to the issue regarding appointments to our state’s boards and commissions, the governor has also been slow to name permanent directors for state agencies. Just a few months ago, four state departments had acting directors, some who had been there for many months.
The Senate dealt with this issue last week. Senate Bill 507 and Senate Joint Resolution 30, both sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, will force the governor to act sooner on all appointments. SJR 30, if passed by voters, will allow the lieutenant governor to appoint board and commission members after 90 days if the governor has not acted. SB 507 tightens the rules for appointing department heads and also changes how the governor handles filling open statewide offices.
I supported both bills, because I believe all these appointments are critical and should not be taken lightly. Many of our boards and commissions are tasked with approving certifications and licenses. If they don’t have a quorum, new professionals may be delayed in starting their careers.
State Senator Will Kraus-R serves District Eight and is a resident of Lees Summit.