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Governor pulls Ransdall's nomination and 83 others from senate review
Governor pulls Ransdall's nomination and 83 others from senate review

Bill Ransdall
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Feb. 4, 2010) — Gov. Jay Nixon’s has pulled 84 names back from Missouri State Senate consideration for various boards and commissions, including former Pulaski County Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall.

The governor’s decision came Wednesday, just one day before the nominations would have died.

Ransdall was appointed last fall to one of three seats on the Missouri State Tax Commission, which pays $106,000 per year and by state statute must be a full-time position. As a condition of his appointment, Ransdall was required to give up numerous positions including his elected office as Pulaski County Presiding Commissioner, his chairmanship of the Pulaski County Growth Alliance and Missouri Ozarks Community Action, his membership on a state board that oversees local soil and water commissions, and his role as a compensated employee of Rastur Inc., a company which demolishes and re-sells items from Fort Leonard Wood housing being refurbished or replaced by newer homes.

However, Ransdall’s nomination and that of several other Democrats who previously served in the Missouri House of Representatives ran into a buzzsaw of opposition from Republicans who didn’t like the way they conducted themselves as members of the Missouri House of Representatives. While Ransdall has said locally for years that he tries to maintain good relationships with Republicans as well as Democrats, some of his former House of Representatives colleagues who are now members of the Missouri State Senate publicly criticized him for partisanship.

Ransdall also drew fire for voting in favor of a recommendation from agriculture officials at the University of Missouri to increase tax rates on the state’s highest-quality farmland while lowering rates on the lowest-quality farmland. The recommendation was passed unanimously by the Missouri State Tax Commission and would have gone into effect in 2011, but was rejected by both houses of the state legislature and will now die.

While Ransdall is out of a job for now, it’s not clear that his nomination is as dead as the proposed tax increase.

According to Scott Holste, a spokesman for the governor’s office, Ransdall and the 83 other names who Nixon had submitted for consideration could still be brought up for confirmation.

“Those nominations can be resubmitted to the senate while it is in session and the senate would not be under any kind of deadline except prior to the end of the session for considering those nominations,” Holste said. “But any names that would be submitted for nominations for board and commissions now, those people would not be able to serve on those boards and commissions until such time as they are confirmed. That’s kind of the difference between appointments that are made during the legislative session and ones made when the legislature is not in session.”

Missouri’s state legislature is a part-time organization, and Ransdall’s appointment followed standard procedure when the senate is not in session. Rather than waiting up to half a year for vacancies to be filled, the governor has the right to fill positions immediately pending state senate confirmation, but any appointments that weren’t confirmed by today’s deadline would have died, according to Farrah Fite, communications director for the Senate Majority Caucus.

“If they are not confirmed by that date they would have been removed from the committee and never been eligible to serve again,” Fite said.

Fite said neither Nixon nor Sen. Charlie Shields, the Republican president pro-tem of the state senate and chairman of the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee, wanted that to happen.

“Sen. Shields made a commitment early in the session that we would do as many as possible but everybody would be fully vetted,” Fite said.

The committee members had been reviewing at least 20 and sometimes up to 30 nominees per week, but the committee simply did not have enough time to review all the names, she said.

According to Fite, Ransdall was one of only four people pulled out for individual consideration on the state senate floor. Others included John Temporiti, the former chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party who was appointed to the Missouri Housing Development Commission and former State Rep. Philip Smith of Louisiana, who was appointed to the Administrative Hearing Commission; none of those three have yet been approved and all face serious Republican opposition.

The fourth person was an appointee to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission who was pulled out by an individual senator but later confirmed after that senator had time to meet with the appointee.

Sheilds’ staff said they expected that most of the names submitted by Nixon would eventually be resubmitted and approved

Holste said he had no information on whether Ransdall’s name would be coming back to the state senate with the governor’s recommendation for appointment — but that’s the case for the other 83 people, too.

“There has not been any decision made on individual names that were withdrawn as far as whether they will be resubmitted,” Holste said.

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