State Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, has filed legislation that he says is intended to “protect the integrity of the appointment process” used by the governor while the Senate is out of session. He says the bill is in response to “the recent, unprecedented chaos” at the Missouri State Board of Education.
“The State Board of Education should not make politically motivated decisions affecting Missouri’s children when a majority of its members haven’t been confirmed by the Senate,” Romine says in a press release. “The interim appointees were on the job for a short period of time with one literally making a decision minutes after being sworn in. They couldn’t possibly have reached an understanding of the strides the department has made to improve student performance, much less understand the ramifications of firing a commissioner that is well liked and respected across the state.”
Republican Governor Eric Greitens worked for several months to put in place State Board of Education members who would support his efforts to terminate then-Missouri Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven. It took the board two attempts, but ultimately it voted earlier this month to remove Vandeven.
Greitens wasn’t on a mission by himself. He had some members of the Missouri Legislature support his cause on social media.
The State Board of Education is a key to providing quality education to every Missouri child. Governor Greitens is taking his jurisdiction over that board seriously and is aligning it with children rather than special interests. I agree with State Representative @RebeccaRoeber
— Ed Emery (@edemery) November 17, 2017
Grateful the new state school board members are standing up to the status quo. The government "system " has produced less than satisfactory results for far too long. As a former class room teacher, I say time for a change. Keep up the fight!
— Rebecca Roeber (@RebeccaRoeber) November 17, 2017
.@EricGreitens is fighting the status quo in education and working to deliver on our promise to deliver to every kid an education that can unlock their true potential. The special interest establishment continues to malign any effort towards reform. #moleg
— Phil Christofanelli (@phlchristo) November 17, 2017
Missouri’s school system needs change. We’re failing our kids and teachers aren’t getting fair pay. Gov Greitens is fighting to get money away from the bureaucracy and back into classrooms. Many want the status quo. This Gov and I aren’t going to stand still for it. #moleg
— Bruce DeGroot (@brucedegroot) November 17, 2017
Romine’s bill would require the governor to notify in writing the Missouri Senate of appointments to any state board or commission when the general assembly is not in session. Under the measure, no appointees could be sworn in or serve in his or her official duties until the senate has been informed of the appointment.
Once the appointment has been made and the senate is notified, the governor would be prohibited from withdrawing the appointment. The bill says the governor is not barred from removing a member of a board or commission with written notice and a hearing on charges of malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office.
If a vacancy occurs while the general assembly is not in session, Romine wants to require that the governor makes a temporary appointment until the next legislative session. The governor would then have to nominate someone to fill the role.
Romine, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, says the appointment process to the board was set up to be insulated from the “political whims” of one governor to the next and the legislation will return integrity to the process by reaffirming the vital role of the Senate.
“When a governor makes 10 appointments to fill five vacancies, there is only one conclusion you can make; the governor is manipulating and playing politics with the board,” says Romine. “Citizen appointees are not puppets of the governor. Once they are appointed, they deserve the Senate’s full consideration for confirmation. My bill will ensure future appointees get an opportunity to serve on the State Board of Education without fear of removal if they make a decision contrary to the governor’s wishes, maintaining the board’s independent voice for Missouri’s children going forward.”
If the measure passes in the Missouri Legislature, it’s not expected to get Greitens’ signature.