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Lawmakers Ponder Rule Changes Post Rod Blagojevich

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By Kamika Dunlap on June 17, 2010 12:55 PM

After ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was accused of trying to sell President Barack Obama's seat, it has led some states to change the ways U.S. Senate vacancies are filled.

So far, lawmakers in at least 15 states are advocating to strip governors of their power to replace senators when an incumbent dies or leaves office midterm, turning over that power to the voters, the Associated Press reports.

Currently, under the U.S. Constitution, House vacancies are required to be filled by elections, but states are allowed to choose how to fill Senate vacancies.

The new measure would require states to hold special elections to fill the vacancies, as 14 states -- including Connecticut and Rhode Island -- already do.

As previously discussed, the corruption trial for former IL Gov. Rod Blagojevich is underway.

Rod Blagojevich was removed from office after an alleged attempt to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Obama and other alleged efforts to leverage the powers of his office.

In addition, prosecutors re-indicted Blagojevich because the constitutionality of the law underpinning some of Blagojevich's original charges -- honest services fraud -- has been challenged and is currently the subject of U.S. Supreme Court review in another case.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are 36 states that give governors the power to appoint replacements until the next regularly scheduled, statewide general election.

The lawmakers who are pushing for a special election acknowledge that the challenge mainly involves the cost of holding a special election, which can be several million dollars.


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