Missourians to have vote in choices for Hall of Famous Missourians

For the first time since its inception in 1982, Missourians will have a say in who joins the bronze circle that is the Hall of Famous Missourians.

Historically, the House speaker has had the privilege of choosing the new inductees. This year, the speaker will choose just one of the three new members.

House Speaker Timothy Jones, R-Eureka, announced Wednesday he would leave it to Missourians to decide on the remaining two inductees. The top ten at the end of the submission period will be put to an online vote to choose the final two.

"What if there's some obvious people that aren't in the Hall that we just aren't thinking about," Jones said, citing one of several reasons for opening the selection process to the public.

Jones has worked with non-partisan staff members over the past year to create several guidelines for choosing new inductees, with a focus on the nominees' contribution to society and their ties to Missouri. Additionally, Jones said they would be looking at people already deceased.

"A lot of times the passage of time, history, sort of reflects upon people and you get a better definition as to the nature of their character," Jones said.

Current members include Laura Ingalls Wilder, Walter Cronkite and Dred Scott.

Last year, conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh joined the list of athletes, statesmen and entertainers honored for their Missouri roots.

Shortly before former House Speaker Steven Tilley's pick, Limbaugh had been criticized for disparaging remarks toward a female student at Georgetown University. More than 150 people gathered in protest as Limbaugh's bust was installed in the Capitol last March.

Jones said the change in the nominating process has no tie to the events surrounding Rush Limbaugh's induction.

Those interested in suggesting a famous Missourian can do so on the Missouri House of Representatives website http://www.house.mo.gov/FamousMissourianSuggestions.aspx . Nominations will be accepted from now until Sept. 13. Voting will be open until Oct. 13.

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