JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri General Assembly has started the vetting process on a proposal from the executive branch to transfer a division from the Department of Economic Development to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.
Gov. Mike Parson is aiming to completely restructure and consolidate the Department of Economic Development. Part of the overall plan involves placing the Missouri State Council on the Arts under the Office.
HB 612, sponsored by Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, which would codify that very move, was heard before the House General Laws Committee on Wednesday afternoon.
“The rationale, I think, is that they are a little fish in a big pond and they would be a bigger fish in a smaller pond,” said Coleman.
Most of the reorganization of the Department of Economic Development was through executive orders signed by Parson in the middle of January. The art council finding a new home requires action by the General Assembly since is moving to a different elected office, according to testimony.
“Part of the reorganization is changing the way DED works internally,” said Rob Dixon, director of the Department of Economic Development. “The reorganization that the governor signed changes the way that the remaining parts of DED will work but then it is also moving parts of state government from one agency to another.”
Just a part of that is the Council on the Arts moving to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. The move makes sense, according to Dixon, based on the statutory mission of the Lieutenant Governor’s Office and role of that office.
Rep. Tracy McCreery did raise concern that if the lieutenant governor position is part-time, as is her understanding, that it might send a message they don’t see the arts as particularly important.
“I don’t believe so,” said a representative from the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. “My experience in the office is that there is nothing part-time about the office.”
He went on the say that there isn’t any question about their commitment to other missions and they will devote the same level of attention and energy to the arts council.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.