A House committee has passed a bill that would end a governor’s authority to fill the offices of state treasurer and insurance commissioner if those posts become vacant in the middle of a term.
The legislation provides that a convention of delegates belonging to the departing official’s party decide, through a secret ballot vote, who fills a vacancy. The House Elections Committee on Feb. 16 passed the bill 8-2. It now goes to the full House.
The move comes about two months after Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly named her 2018 running mate, former Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers, as state treasurer. Kelly’s appointment was to fill a vacancy left by Republican Kansas Rep. Jake LaTurner, who was elected to the U.S. House in November.
The Kansas Republican Party had tweeted shortly after the announcement that Kelly’s appointment was “a partisan attack on democracy” because voters elected a GOP treasurer in 2018.
In a hearing last month, Mike Kuckelman, the Kansas Republican Party Chairman, said many voters vote along party lines and so an appointment by party delegates would better reflect voter intent. Overland Park Democratic Rep. Brett Parker argued that the governor was elected by Kansans.
The committee rejected efforts by Democrats to instead hold special elections to fill vacancies for the offices.
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