State Board May Need a Minor Party Member

A legal quirk is opening the door to a possible third party or independent appointment to Missouri’s Clean Water Commission.

Thanks to Eric Dondero for this tip. Full story from the Belleville News-Democrat...

The commission that oversees Missouri’s water quality regulations has more Republican members than allowed by state law.

As a result, the state Sierra Club is questioning the legality of the decisions made by the Missouri Clean Water Commission. But Republican Gov. Matt Blunt’s office said Wednesday that the appointment of a GOP majority was merely a commonsense solution to a vague law.

The root of the problem appears to be a 2002 law, which expanded the commission from six to seven members but left in place existing language stating that no more than three members shall belong to the same political party.

In a political environment dominated by Republicans and Democrats, that would imply that the seventh member would have to be an independent or a member of a third political party, such as the Libertarian, Progressive or Green parties.

But the commission currently has four Republicans (three appointed by Blunt and one by former Democratic Gov. Bob Holden), two Democrats appointed by previous governors, and one vacancy.

“One commonsense interpretation is that a fourth member of one party would have to be appointed,” said Blunt spokeswoman Jessica Robinson, who asserted that the makeup of the current commission complies with the law.

Ken Midkiff, the state Sierra Club conservation chairman, said he believes lawmakers simply overlooked the partisan requirements when adding an extra member to the commission four years ago.

“It’s a technicality, I guess,” Midkiff said Wednesday. “But it’s also a legal technicality. Right now, the Clean Water Commission does not meet the definition in that statute.”

Former Sen. Jim Mathewson, D-Sedalia, who sponsored the 2002 law, was not available for comment Wednesday.

Midkiff said the Sierra Club’s attorneys are researching the potential consequences of the commission having too many members of one political party. Among the environmental group’s questions is whether that could be grounds to reverse all the actions made by the current commission.

The governor’s office believes the commission’s actions would be upheld in court, Robinson said.

Blunt’s most recent nominee to the commission, Daniel Johanningmeier, of Florissant, withdrew citing personal reasons. Blunt had identified him as a Democrat, though Johanningmeier told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Tuesday that he is an independent who has worked both for Republican Sen. Jim Talent and for Democratic state legislative candidates.

4 Responses to “State Board May Need a Minor Party Member”

  1. Mike Grimes Says:

    While we all know the Democrats and Republicans who made the law were simply sloppy in not changing the requirements, a law is a law. Hell when it comes to ballot access and things of that nature Democrats and Republicans will even use laws that don’t exist to deny anyone but D’s and R’s a ticket to the game.

  2. Chris Fluharty Says:

    They will fix it before they fill the vacancy. Missouri has a lot of blunders like this. I served as a staffer for a state senator and a lot of the proposed legislation has mistakes like this. Most legislators do not even read the bills they vote on.

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