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10 February 2012

Dugger: Legislature Did Its Role Trying To Make Presidential Primary Count

"We the people" are the driver, the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world's constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which "We the people" tell the government what it is allowed to do. "We the people" are free. –Ronald Reagan

It was yet another busy week at the Missouri State Capitol, but before I discuss this week’s happenings I wanted to take the time to address a concern that has been raised by many across the state. The media, this past week, was replete with news stories calling Tuesday’s presidential primary a “waste of money” or a “beauty contest.” Many of the stories pointed the blame at the General Assembly, not the Governor, for not acting to save the state seven million dollars by eliminating the nonbinding primary.

However, what was absent from these news stories was the fact that the legislature did in fact act to move the primary date, and thus make the results meaningful. Last year, I personally filed legislation, House Bill 503, which would have removed the statute requiring a presidential primary to be held in February. Doing so would have moved Missouri’s presidential primary to March. This change would have adhered to the guidelines set by the national parties for when Missouri should hold its primary, and thus would have made the results binding for the distribution of delegates.

HB 503 did not make it through the legislative process, but similar language was included in Senate Bill 282. SB 282 made it to the Governor’s desk but unfortunately was vetoed. If the Governor had signed the bill into law, we would not have faced losing half of our delegates to the national party conventions. With this possibility looming, the state Republican party decided to choose our delegates through the caucus process ensuring that all of them would be counted.

As it stands, Missouri will rely on the results of party caucuses held March 17th to determine the distribution of delegates. Until that time, it would be nice if the media pointed its finger at who really cost the state its presidential primary and the money for the “beauty contest.”

In other election news, the Missouri House third read and passed House Bill 1104. HB 1104, which will now go before the Senate for debate, changes the laws regarding elections by requiring a voter to provide photo identification prior to voting. To me this is common sense approach to ensure the integrity of Missouri’s election process from voter fraud. Some states, which have photo ID requirements, have actually seen an increase in voter turnout. Perhaps it is the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your “legitimate” vote will not be cancelled out someone cheating the system.

Critics of the bill argue that requiring voters to show a photo ID will suppress elderly, minority and poor citizens, keeping them from the polls. They say that these groups are less likely to have photo identification, and it is more difficult for them to obtain it.

In an effort to alleviate these concerns, HB 1104 allows all citizens without the proper photo identification to obtain one free of charge from the state or their local license bureau. However, if the voter cannot afford to pay for the documentation required to obtain an ID, they can still vote by casting a provisional ballot.

Not only is it important that we protect voting, the foundation of our democracy, with elections legislation, but we also must protect the foundation of our economy and society; agriculture. This week the House Committee on Agricultural Policy passed out HCS HJR 41 which proposes a constitutional amendment affirming the right of Missourians to raise livestock in a humane manner without the state imposing an undue economic burden on their owners.

Meanwhile, the House Committee on Transportation advanced House Bill 1107. House Bill 1107 designates Highway 5 between the cities of Ava and Mansfield as the “Missouri Fox Trotting Highway.” Ava is known as the heart of Fox Trotting Country, and also serves as the home of the headquarters of the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association. I am honored to be carrying this piece of legislation which will instill much deserved recognition on the important role that the Missouri Fox Trotter has played in the development of Missouri, especially the Ozark region.

For more information about the pieces of legislation mentioned above or about any others that have been introduced, please visit the House of Representatives website, As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri House of Representatives.

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