A Missouri lawmaker waited until the last moment to resign while still avoiding a new constitutional amendment that could have limited his ability to lobby in the future.
State Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis resigned at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. On Thursday, a voter-approved amendment took effect requiring lawmakers to wait two years before registering as lobbyists. State law had required only a six-month lobbyist waiting period.
Curtis said Thursday that the timing of his resignation was intentional. The Democrat from Ferguson said he is starting an online sports-experience marketing company called Fanvie, may seek a six-figure grant from a state-funded entity and wants to leave open his business possibilities.
Curtis said he doesn’t foresee himself lobbying at the Capitol but that it could be necessary for his company. He also said he might be able to advise others on Missouri’s newly legalized industries of medical marijuana and industrial hemp.
“If I had to register (as a lobbyist) in order to provide that advice or to get someone to the next level, if that opportunity came in the future, I wouldn’t necessarily say no,” Curtis said.
Curtis will forgo around $3,000 in salary by resigning about a month before his term was to end Jan. 9. He had attempted to run for the state Senate earlier this year but was denied by the state Democratic Party — and ultimately by the state Supreme Court — because of unpaid fines levied by the Missouri Ethics Commission for campaign finance violations.
His departure means there now are 13 vacancies in the 163-member House and three in the 34-member Senate. Nearly a third of those came after voters approved Constitutional Amendment 1 on Nov. 6. Some left earlier to take jobs in Gov. Mike Parson’s administration.
According to the House, the number of resignations in that chamber is the highest of any year in records dating back to 1994. The next highest was 11 resignations in 2002, the first year that voter-approved term limits prohibited many longtime lawmakers from seeking re-election.
Constitutional Amendment 1, which automatically took effect 30 days after the election, also subjects lawmakers to the state open-records law, imposes a $5 lobbyist gift limit and revamps the legislative redistricting process. The measure makes Missouri the first in the nation to use a mathematical formula to try to prevent gerrymandering and achieve “partisan fairness” and “competitiveness” beginning after the 2020 Census.