Missouri AG asked to opine on 'constitutional crisis'

Chris Rizo May 3, 2010, 5:36pm

Chris Koster (D)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline)-A Republican state senator in Missouri said Monday that the state's Democratic governor and former attorney general has sparked a constitutional crisis.

State Sen. Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau is taking issue with a budget bill signing statement issued by Gov. Jay Nixon last month.
He said it was illegal for the Democratic governor, in signing a supplemental budget bill appropriating funds for the remainder of the current year, to tell the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to disregard a controversial portion of House Bill 2014.

Nixon objected to a provision that would have required some school districts to absorb more of the $43 million in mid-year funding cuts than other districts. The governor called the provision unconstitutional.

Crowell has sought the opinion of the state's current attorney general, Chris Koster, a Democrat, on whether the governor overstepped his bounds. The senator called Nixon's move "a constitutional crisis of epic proportions," saying it is the job of the courts to determine the constitutionality of laws, not the governor.

"After careful review of the unprecedented actions of Governor Nixon, I respectfully request you to use any and all legal powers to ensure that the separation of powers found in the Missouri's Constitutional (sic) are protected as quickly as legally possible," Crowell wrote in a letter to the attorney general.

Crowell, elected to the Senate in November of 2004, is a member of the Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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