UPDATED: Sen. Jennings: He wants replacements possible, not mandatory
Sen. J.B. Jennings said his mother was a bit taken aback by the headline on this morning’s blog. No, he does not want to be temporarily replaced now that he is on active duty for training.
He does want it possible for him and others to have their seats filled temporarily if the military calls them up for more than 90 days.
But the replacement process would be “up to the member’s discretion,” Jennings said. And he would strike the provisions in the original bill that prohibited the replacement lawmaker from running against the incumbent.
Jennings emphasized that this legislation is “not necessarily for me.” It’s for all those members of the Reserves and the National Guard who he believed are reluctant to run for office because they might be called up.
Jennings said he also incorrectly identified the state that has already enacted a similar bill. It was Minnesota, not Missouri.
Also, since it is a constitutional amendment, Jennings’ proposal could not go into effect until voters approve it in the 2012 election.
ORIGINAL POSTING: Republican Sen. J.B. Jennings of Baltimore County, a member of Maryland’s Air National Guard, is on active duty with the Air Force to be trained on a new transport plane in Georgia.
He’s actually been back in Annapolis the last two weeks, while work is being done on the C27 Spartan cargo plane.
But Jennings is still worried about what will happen next year, when he is likely to be deployed to Afghanistan.
At Jennings’ request, Sen. Ed Reilly, R-Anne Arundel County, has introduced legislation to allow the governor to appoint a temporary replacement for a member of the legislature called up for active duty in the armed services. The move requires both a constitutional amendment and a bill to implement it.
As in a permanent appointment to a vacancy, the bill provides that the central committee of the party of the absent member would send nominations to the governor, who would name the replacement.
“We need to have a representative from every district,” Reilly said.
Jennings explained that only Missouri, as far as he knew, provided for temporary replacements. “Your constituents would still have a voice,” he said.
To Jennings’ surprise, the Senate Rules Committee actually conducted a mini-hearing on the bill Tuesday. The senators, keen students of the electoral process and curious about who might get to serve with them in the legislature, peppered Jennings and Reilly with questions.
Some wanted to know why the member on active duty got to choose whether a replacement is named, and why that replacement member would not be allowed to run against the legislator in the next election, as Reilly’s bill provides.
Several senators wondered why it wasn’t sufficient that there would still be three delegates representing the legislative district.
Sen. Brian Frosh questioned why the replacement lawmaker wouldn’t be allowed to replace members of the staff.
“If you’re going to be a full-fledged legislator, you ought to have your own staff,” Frosh said.
Jennings said he had dealt with some of these issues in amendments he prepared to the same bill he introduced last year as a member of the House of Delegates, when he was planning ahead for the possibility of active duty. But for the moment, these amendments are filed somewhere in a box.
Absences by legislators due to military service are fairly rare. Most recently, in 2004 then-House Majority Whip Anthony Brown, now the lieutenant governor, spent a year in Iraq as an Army lieutenant colonel. Before that, Sen. John Astle, a Marine colonel, served five months in the 1990 Persian Gulf War.