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Gov. Nixon's nominees delayed in Senate panel

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 29, 2014 at 1:41 pm •  Published: January 29, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Some of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's nominations for key positions in state government are being held up in a Senate committee because lawmakers say the Democratic governor is not communicating effectively with them.

The Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee on Wednesday held up nominees for the state agriculture director, highway commissioner and two members of the State Board of Education for at least one week. Committee members said they were frustrated by recent decisions in the Nixon administration that were made without consultation with the Republican-controlled Legislature.

"We are trying to figure out what is the best way to get the governor's office to engage with us seriously," said committee chairman and Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey.

A spokesman for Nixon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the delayed nominations.

Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said all the nominees would be considered again next week.

Nixon nominated Richard Fordyce in December to take over at the Department of Agriculture, which had been with a leader since October. While senators were complimentary of the northwestern Missouri farmer, they disagree with a department proposal to allow gas stations to sell fuel with a higher ethanol blend.

The Agriculture Department issued a rule last year to let stations sell gas with a 15 percent ethanol blend, but a legislative panel delayed it in October over concerns that it conflicted with a 2006 state law requiring most Missouri gasoline to contain a 10 percent mix.

Lawmakers said they should be the ones to make the decision about ethanol content in gasoline, but Fordyce said during a legislative hearing Wednesday that the department had the authority to implement the change on its own.

Committee members were similarly complimentary of Nixon's appointees to the State Board of Education but held their nominations because of concerns about recent actions by Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro, who is hired by the board.

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