St. Louis Public Radio News
8:55 am
Wed January 21, 2009

Mo. GOP leader wants Democrats to chair committee

Jefferson City, MO – The Republican leader of the Missouri Senate wants to give Democrats more say in which bills get heard.

Senate President Pro-tem Charlie Shields (R, St. Joseph) is proposing the creation of a committee that would be chaired by Democrats. It would handle minority party-sponsored bills that usually languish and die in GOP-led committees.

"It would have been something we would have liked to have seen in the House when I was in the minority, and the ability to move our ideas forward and bring them up to the floor for debate, and hopefully it will provide that opportunity [for Democrats]," Shields said.

Democratic Senator Rita Heard Days of St. Louis says it's an excellent idea.

"It is unprecedented, however I think that these are different times that we are facing, and I think that it is a good thing for the majority to understand that the minority members can actually have some good ideas that warrant debate," Days said.

Days also said she believes Shields will be able to persuade his fellow Republicans to allow creation of the committee. It would be named the Committee on Progress and Development, and a decision on the proposal may come Thursday.