Voters Split over Missouri Birther Bill
JEFFERSON CITY - Voters had mixed reactions Friday to the Missouri House's passage of a bill that would require any presidential or vice presidential candidate to provide proof of citizenship in order to appear on the ballot in the state.
The so-called "birther" bill was passed in the Republican-controlled house Wednesday, but it still needs to pass the senate before it can end up on Governor Jay Nixon's desk. If it is passed, Missouri will be the first state to enact such a law. The bill calls for it to go into effect in time for the 2016 presidential election. Arizona tried passing a similar law last year, but it was vetoed by the state's Republican governor.
This bill comes after years of people questioning President Obama's citizenship. The president released his birth certificate last year, but many still believe he was born outside the United States.
The primary sponsor of the bill, Representative Lyle Rowland, R-Cedarcreek, said this has nothing to do with Obama or racism. Rowland said he believes there is not enough vetting of presidential candidates. He also said he has received emails from 300 people showing support for this bill. However, others in the house disagree on Rowland's motives.
"There is a large amount of people out there who don't think our president is a U.S. citizen," said Representative Jacob Hummel, D-St. Louis. "I think that is where this bill is coming from. That is why I am not supporting this legislation."
Like the members of the house, many Missourians are torn on this issue.
"I'm definitely for it," said St. Louis resident Paige Filor. "I think you should prove who you are. I wouldn't want somebody who's not from America and not an American to do something for us and then mess up."
But Columbia activist Byron King agrees with many house Democrats that the bill is just in response to the Obama birther movement.
"In previous years, no one had to really do that," he said. "I think this simply came about because a lot of people are upset that Obama is the president of the United States. So they came up with all of these different rules. They want to change rules. But if you want to play by the rules, play by the rules fairly, that's my opinion on it."
Reports say It is unlikely the senate will vote on the bill in the current legislative session.