Missouri lawmakers seek to create a military department

March 9, 2020 GMT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri voters could decide later this year whether to to create a state department of defense answerable directly to the governor.

The state House on Monday passed a proposed constitutional amendment creating a new Cabinet-level department containing the Missouri National Guard. The Guard currently is part of the state Department of Public Safety.

If also passed by the Senate, the proposal would appear on the ballot later this year.

Sponsoring Rep. Adam Schnelting said Missouri and Massachusetts currently are the only states without separate military or defense departments. He said a separate department would provide a better chain of command for the Guard’s adjutant general to report to the governor.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Mike Parson said the measure is not a priority for the governor but he would be open to discussing the topic.

The Senate on Monday signaled its support for the constitutional amendment. It passed a separate bill that would create a Department of Military Forces, if voters approve a constitutional amendment authorizing such a department. That legislation now goes to the House.