Candidates for Congress in Missouri don’t have to live in the congressional district they’re running for. That would change under a bill in the Missouri House.

The sponsor, State Rep. Aaron McMullen, R-Independence, told the House Elections Committee on Monday that it makes sense to require in-district residency.

“As you guys all know, to run for a State Representative seat, you have to live in the district,” McMullen said. “To run in a State Senate seat, you have to live in the district.”

McMullen pointed out the “mad rush” that occurred when Blaine Luetkemeyer announced he was not running for reelection to Missouri’s Third District congressional seat. Some of the contenders don’t live in the Third District.

“It made the headlines when I was in a friend’s office on the second floor, and I jokingly said, ‘hey, do you want to run for Congress?’ Because as it is now, you don’t have to live in the congressional district that you’re running for,” he said.

Ron Berry, a lobbyist for a group that supports term limits, testified in favor of the bill during Monday’s public hearing.

“If you can represent any place in the state (of Missouri) in Congress, your ideas may be different than in St. Louis or Kansas City,” Berry said. “They could be different from Kirksville.”

No one testified against the bill, but State Rep. Kevin Windham, D-St. Louis County, questioned Berry over his support of the proposal.

“So, if I lived in the First Congressional District my whole life and then moved to the Second Congressional District because it got too expensive, you’re saying I can’t represent somewhere where I lived my whole life just because I moved across the street?” Windham asked. “No, I’m not saying that,” Berry responded, to which Windham said, “That’s what the bill would say.”

If passed, anyone wanting to run for Congress would have to live in the district they want to represent for at least two years.

A committee vote on the bill hasn’t been scheduled. If it does pass out of the House Elections Committee, it still needs to go through the House Rules Committee, the full Missouri House, and the Missouri Senate in the next four weeks in order to make it to the governor’s desk this year.

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