Freshman legislator gets bill signed by governor

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

State Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-158th District, has earned the distinction of being the first freshman representative in the current session to get one of his proposals passed through both chambers of the General Assembly.

On Tuesday, Governor Jay Nixon signed HB #163 into law. The new legislation makes it unnecessary for Monett to hold a primary election if the field of candidates does not need reduction before a municipal election.

"The City of Monett had suggested that legislation be enacted that enabled third-class cities with a commission form of government to eliminate the primary election if the number of candidates filing to run equaled the number of candidates that would be placed on the general election ballot anyway," said Monett City Administrator Dennis Pyle. "For example, if only two candidates filed for mayor and four candidates filed for commissioner, there wouldn't be a need for a primary election because no candidate would be eliminated through the primary.

"Over the course of time and through changes that occur during the legislative process, the current bill gives these same cities the opportunity to eliminate the primary election and just have a general election regardless of the number of candidates that have filed," explained Pyle. "No candidate gets eliminated through the primary election process. The city council will now be able to determine this by ordinance."

Fitzpatrick said he was glad to help the city save taxpayers' money.

"This issue has been worked on for six or seven years now, and I am excited to have passed it in my first legislative session," Fitzpatrick said. "It is not a landmark bill, but it does give the City of Monett control over their election process and allows them to save the taxpayers thousands of dollars in each election cycle. I really appreciate Senator David Sater's work getting it through the Senate quickly."

Fitzpatrick's bill evolved somewhat during its course through the General Assembly. Additional provisions added during the process included:

* Requiring a city council and public vote for the sale of a hospital;

* Freeing county 911 emergency services boards from public elections if there are no candidates competing for a seat; and

* Makes the public administrator for the City of St. Louis an appointed position.

"The City of Monett wishes to thank Representative Fitzpatrick and Senator Sater for sponsoring this legislation and providing the leadership to get it passed by both houses and signed by the governor," Pyle added. "It's a testament to Representative Fitzpatrick's effectiveness that he got this legislation passed in his first term in the House."

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