JEFFERSON CITY - Questions about President Barack Obama's citizenship surfaced during a House committee hearing Tuesday.
The House Elections Committee conducted a public hearing on a bill that would require all presidential and vice-presidential candidates to submit their proof of citizenship to be on the Missouri ballot. The bill's sponsor Rep. Lyle Rowland, R-Cedarcreek, said his measure responds to "controversy" about the current president.
"We are here in the Show-Me State and we just want to be shown if what they [candidates] claim to be is true," Rowland said.
Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis County, opposed the bill and called it an "utter waste of time."
Newman said that presidential candidates are nominated by the National Republican and Democratic Parties, who are responsible for vetting their qualifications.
Rowland's bill would not take effect until 2016, when Obama would not be eligible to run if he wins in 2012. People testifying in support of the bill, however, believed the legislation should be used to target the current president.
"Why do we have to wait four years? Why not start now?" said Hector Maldonado, who run for U.S. Senate in 2010.
Mitch Hubbard, a former candidate for Missouri Secretary of State, said it was very important to resolve the question of a president's citizenship sooner rather than later.
"Our soldiers need to know there is no question he is the commander of chief," Hubbard said.
Newman questioned the relevancy of discussing the issue of the president's citizenship now, saying that question has "long been resolved."
"We have some crucial jobs bills to discuss ... this issue is mute," Newman said.
No one testified during the public hearing Tuesday in opposition to Rowland's bill. The committee took no formal action on Rowland's bill and gave no timetable for future action on the measure.