I really hadn’t take a position nor intended to on the Senate Resolution introduced by Sen. Valde Garcia, R-Howell, that calls for an amendment to the state Constitution to allow the effected lawmaker to pick their own fill-in if they are called to active duty in the Reserves or National Guard a for more than a year until I saw the editorial in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.
“Bad idea. If a lawmaker can no longer perform his or her duties, he or she should resign. There are the provisions for filling the vacancy.”
I’m surprised at this anti-military position by the editorial board. Perhaps they have never heard of the federal law that covers Re-employment Rights of Veterans Returning to Civilian Jobs. Under the law:
"A person who left a civilian job to enter active duty in the armed forces is entitled to return to the job after discharge or release from active duty if they gave advance notice of military service to the employer, did not exceed five years cumulative absence from the civilian job, submitted a timely application for re-employment, and they did not receive a dishonorable or other punitive discharge. The law calls for a returning veteran to be placed in the job as if they had never left.”
Granted, I understand the situation differs for an elected official, but the principal should be the same. I also disagree with Garcia on how the position should be filled, but I agree with him 100 percent that it should be filled. There is no reason to penalize the lawmaker for serving their country, and to ask him or her to make another sacrifice and resign a position they worked so hard to obtain. Nor should the constituents be penalized for electing a patriotic lawmaker.
I think a district should have someone to represent them, and if not the voters are simply being cheated. In November of 2005 when Rep. Herb Kehrl, D-Monroe, passed away while in office, the residents of the 56th District did not have anyone representing them, other than the state Senator. I think they lost out. The position was empty until Rep. Kate Ebli was elected last November. The governor could have held a special election to fill it, but that would have cost a lot of money.
Senate Joint Resolution F, calls for the called-up legislator to recommend a substitute who meets all the requirements for holding the office, and the appointment would be contingent upon approval by the local political party in the district a lawmaker represents.
I think it should be handled the same way vacant state judgeships are handled with some slight variations. The Governor should appoint someone, and the Senate should confirm them. If could also be the house where the person will sit that confirms the nominee, or the political party could nominate someone.
The debate should be about how the position will be filled not that it should not be filled.