Why would Missouri require one statewide officeholder — but not the other four — to live in Jefferson City?
It didn't make sense to us, either.
So we're glad the Missouri Legislature finally approved a bill to drop the residency requirement for the state attorney general. Gov. Mike Parson signed the bill last week.
The former requirement became an issue after now-U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley was elected attorney general in 2016. At the time, Hawley lived about 24 miles north of Jefferson City in southern Columbia, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Hawley's office had argued the statute refers to where the Office of the Attorney General resides, not where the attorney general lives. Hawley rented an apartment in Jefferson City soon after.
At the time, we questioned the residency requirement. But we also criticized Hawley, saying he, of all people, should obey the law — even if it's a nonsensical law.
We argued that back when the law was written, it probably made more sense the AG could be summoned and be in his office in a matter of minutes.
Now, with the internet, cellphones, digital signatures, internet banking, Skype, etc., the attorney general should be able to do most of his job duties from the North Pole.
We backed a bill in 2017 to end the residency requirement, saying it no longer serves a purpose. It took four years to approve what seemed like a non-controversial bill.
Under the state Capitol dome, it's not unusual to wait years for a consensus on common sense. In this case, it wasn't something urgent, and we're glad lawmakers eventually made the change.