House Speaker urges members to tread carefully on impeachment effort

– For a handful of rank-and-file Republicans, enough is enough and it is time for Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon to be impeached.

Eight Republicans make up a sort-of House impeachment caucus, led by Reps. Nick Marshall and Mike Moon. Others who have signed on to a gubernatorial impeachment resolution are Reps. Rick Brattin, Jeff Pogue, Ron Schieber, T.J. Berry, Kurt Bahr, and Ken Wilson.

Marshall, R-Parkville, has already filed his articles of impeachment against Nixon over his executive order allowing same-sex couples married in other states to file joint tax returns in an attempt to line up with federal tax rules. And Moon, R-Mt. Vernon, is set to file his own over Nixon’s delayed calls for special elections.

House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, said that while he takes Marshall’s allegations against Nixon seriously, he believes impeachment should be used sparingly “and only in response to an egregious abuse of the laws of our state.”

“Moving forward, I expect the members of the House to take a very reasoned, deliberative approach to what will be a very serious discussion about the governor’s alleged misuse of his constitutional authority,” he said.

Still, speaking with reporters on Thursday, Jones he has not personally called either of the impeachment-backers to ask them to rethink their resolutions.

“I do not discourage any representative from filing any legislation,” he said “People can file whatever bills they want.”

Marshall’s resolution claims Nixon is “guilty of willful neglect of duty and misconduct in office” for ignoring a 2004 amendment to the state constitution Moon’s is aimed at Nixon’s delayed call for special elections in three open House seats (one that remained open for more than seven months) and not calling a special election to fill Democrat Ryan McKenna’s vacated Senate seat.

Moon, who laid out his case to the House Republican Caucus last week, reportedly met with Assistant Majority Floor Leader Mike Cierpiot, R-Lee’s Summit, but has not met with anyone else in Republican leadership.

House Minority Leader Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis, said in a statement late last week that the impeachment push is proof that “the crazy wing has taken over the House Republican Caucus”, and signaled the push could be highlighted as House Democrats look to take back a handful of seats to weaken the GOP’s grip on the General Assembly.

“If House Republicans insist on embarrassing themselves with sham election-year impeachment proceedings, then, by all means, they should have at it,” he said. “When Missouri voters see just how far down the path of extremism House Republicans have gone, there will be a lot fewer of them serving in the House of Representatives come November.”

It is unclear where the impeachment resolutions go from here. If the House were to pass them, Nixon would be forced to stand trial before a special commission of seven eminent jurists to be elected by the Missouri Senate.

Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, has filed legislation this year that would change the way judges and governors are impeached. His bill would move the power of impeachment to the Senate from a special commission of “seven eminent jurists to be elected by the Senate” (often prominent former judges). Before voter approval of the 1945 state Constitution, the way Missouri used to do it was similar to that at the federal level: The House of Representatives would file articles of impeachment, and the Senate would hold the trial with the chief justice of the Supreme Court presiding.

Missouri has changed impeachment rules four times since becoming a state in 1821 — once in 1865 after the Civil War, then in 1875 to amend some of the 1865 changes, again in 1923, and a fourth time in 1945.

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