Missouri Senate Committee Hears "Birther" Bill

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JEFFERSON CITY - On Monday, a Missouri Senate committee heard, but took no action on a bill requiring presidential and vice presidential candidates to produce a birth certificate and take a sworn oath of their citizenship.

The so-called "birther bill" gained approval from the House in late March after Republicans fiercely denied the bill targeted President Obama.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Lyle Rowland, R-Cedarcreek, called his proposal a "voter protection bill."

"If they're running for an election in the state of Missouri, that information needs to be on file," said Rowland.

Rowland, who sponsored the same legislation last year, said his bill has nothing to do with President Obama. 

But Rep. Sylvester Taylor, D-St. Louis County, said the bill is racist. 

"It's pure hatred at its purest because his name is not William Jefferson Clinton. Or George Herbert Walker Bush. But his name is Barack Hussein Obama," said Taylor.

Representative Tishaura Jones, D-St. Louis said the legislature should be focusing on other issues in the session's final few weeks. 

"We should be dicussing how to put Missourians back to work. We should be discussing revenue for the state of Missouri. We have four weeks left in the legislative session, and we have yet to pass one jobs bill. 

More than a dozen states have considered similar legislation. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a "birther" bill last week after the Arizona legislature became the first in the nation to pass the legislation through both of its chambers.

If the Senate approves the bill, it will be sent to Democratic Governor Jay Nixon. The bill would go into effect for the 2016 election.