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Pre-filed bill would strike down residency requirement for Missouri attorney general

Josh Hawley takes part in a debate.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
A Republican House member wants to remove a requirement for the attorney general to reside in Jefferson City. It comes as Attorney General Josh Hawley has drawn criticism for not selling his house in Boone County.

A pre-filed bill in the Missouri House would eliminate a state law requiring the attorney general to live in Jefferson City.

Current law requires the attorney general to live “at the seat of government,” which is in Jefferson City. The measure sponsored by Rep. Lindell Shumake, R-Hannibal, would simply strike those words from state law.

“I could see back in the days when transportation was more difficult and time consuming why our attorney for the state would need to reside there in Jefferson City,” Shumake said. “But now I see that as being antiquated.”

This comes as Democrats have blasted Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley for commuting from his family home in Boone County 20 minutes away. Hawley ultimately rented an apartment in Jefferson City in February, but criticism resumed in August after he voted in a Boone County election.

He’s now being sued by Donna Mueller, a Jefferson City resident, stating that he should make Jefferson City his permanent legal residence or resign from office.

Hawley so far has not responded to requests for comment on Shumake’s pre-filed bill. An identical measure filed during the 2017 regular session failed to pass.

Meira Bernstein, communications director for the Missouri Democratic Party, blasted renewed efforts to dump the residency requirement.

“Rather than comply with Missouri state law, as attorneys general in the past have done, Josh Hawley has apparently recruited his friends in the State House to change the law to suit his preferences,” she said in a written statement.

Hawley is also seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Claire McCaskill.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.