Missouri General Assembly

Robert Cornejo
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back state Rep. Robert Cornejo to the program.

The St. Peters Republican is serving his second term in the Missouri House. He was a guest on the show about a year ago, after one of the wildest ends to a legislative session in recent history.

Margaux Harris, 7, granddaughter of Rep. Mike Lair, throws papers in the air shortly after members of the House did the same to mark the end of the legislative session.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For the most part, the dwindling moments of the 2016 session of the Missouri General Assembly were familiar: Paper got tossed. Press conferences transpired. And lawmakers get to spend the next few months far away from Jefferson City (with the exception, of course, of the legislators that represent that town).

But the last week of session did provide some notable insights and surprises: From the passage of a wide-ranging gun bill to the somewhat surprising resignation of a state senator, there was plenty of news to keep bespectacled reporters busy.

Jake Hummel
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

JEFFERSON CITY - On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are on location in Jefferson City for the final week of this latest Missouri General Assembly’s session.  On Tuesday afternoon, the pair welcomed back House Minority Leader Jake Hummel to the program -- by stopping by his office.

An HD camcorder
Nebrot | Wikipedia

The Missouri Supreme Court is weighing a lawsuit that accuses state senators of violating the Sunshine Law. Progress Missouri filed suit after being kicked out of Senate hearings on multiple occasions while videotaping proceedings.

The group's appeal to the state Supreme Court comes after the circuit judge of Cole County sided with the Senate. The high court heard arguments from both sides on Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Ron Richard is about to spend his first full session as president pro-tem of the Missouri Senate.

He was elected to the post by his colleagues in September after Tom Dempsey resigned a year ahead of time, and shepherded the upper chamber through veto session. The Republican from Joplin also served as House Speaker from 2009 to 2010, and is the only elected official in Missouri history to lead both chambers.

Richard sat down recently with St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin and talked about what he hopes to accomplish, and about getting started as president pro-tem:

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Typically when December ends, journalists tend to become reflective about the highlights and lowlights of the past year. This reporter is no exception, as the scandal, tragedy, transition, conflict and hilarity of the past 12 months gave everybody who covers Missouri politics a lot to think about.

So yes, this is an article rounding up all of the big moments from the past year. But renowned financier Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson inspired me to take this retrospective in a different direction.

Sen. Eric Schmitt
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A Republican lawmaker is taking another look at how municipalities govern themselves around the state — and especially in St. Louis County.

Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, handled legislation passed in the spring that reduced the percentage of traffic fine revenue cities could have in their budgets. But the legislation did not restrict non-traffic revenue, such as fines for not keeping up a property. (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch pointed that out earlier this year).

Schmitt’s pre-filed bill, according to a release from his office, would “limit how much revenue they can keep from not only traffic violations, but also other ordinance violations — such as letting your grass grow too high.”

Richardson enters the House Lounge for an end-of-session press conference on Friday.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Although a special session is highly unlikely, Missouri lawmakers will meet at least once to discuss the possibility of Syrian refugees entering the Show-Me State and may try to look for ways to block that from happening.

House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, and Senate President Pro-tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, have scheduled a joint hearing of the House and Senate committees that oversee the annual state budget for Nov. 30, the Monday after Thanksgiving.

State Rep. Kimberly Gardner
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Kim Gardner for the first time.

The Missouri General Assembly placed most of this year's amendments on the ballot.
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

If there was one big lesson that John Lamping learned during his tenure in the Missouri Senate, it was that it’s very difficult to pass a bill – but very simple to kill one. 

Case in point: The former GOP lawmaker proposed two-year ban on lawmakers going into lobbying, something that’s taken hold in other states and throughout the U.S. Congress. But Lamping’s proposal never got off the ground.

Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, and House Speaker Todd Richardson talk during the veto session.
Tim Bomel | Missouri House

After hours of Senate debate, the Missouri General Assembly ended its annual veto session by barring local communities from increasing their minimum wage or banning plastic bags.

Legislators also have overridden Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would restrict Missouri’s A+ scholarship program to U.S. citizens and immigrants with permanent-residency status. 

The Missouri Capitol Building
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Within the outcry over state Sen. Paul LeVota’s resignation, one response in particular stood out.

It wasn’t from a Democratic heavy-hitter like Sen. Claire McCaskill or Gov. Jay Nixon. And it didn’t come from a pundit or a journalist. The most poignant reply came from Rachel Gonzalez, a 16-year-old student who is president of the High School Democrats of Missouri.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Every bill Missouri lawmakers sent to Gov. Jay Nixon this year has now been signed or vetoed, with only one bill becoming law without his signature.

That bill, HB 137, tweaks the bidding process for license fee offices by doing away with rewarding points to bidders based on how much revenue the state would get back in return. It was co-sponsored by state Rep. Dean Dohrman, R-LaMonte.

Lawmakers in Texas approved a bill providing money and setting guidelines for police body cameras.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

At first blush, Texas state Sen. Royce West didn’t seem to have the most hospitable environment to pass legislation providing body camera grants to local law enforcement agencies.

After all, the Texas legislature isn’t brimming with Democrats like West these days. And in contrast to Missouri’s divided government, GOP officials occupy every single statewide office throughout the Lone Star State.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Although Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon already has declared he’ll veto an anti-union bill known as “right to work,’’ a labor coalition has launched a TV ad campaign anyway.

The ad blitz is likely just the first salvo in what could be a summer-long effort by both sides to sway the public and politicians on the bill, which would bar employers and unions from requiring all workers in a bargaining unit to pay dues.

Richardson meets the press on Thursday after being tabbed to be the next speaker of the Missouri House.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

New Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson has assembled what he calls “a working group" of legislators and House staff to come up with changes in the chamber’s student intern program.

The six legislators on the panel – two Democrats and four Republicans – include state Rep. Jeanne Kirkton, D-Webster Groves. Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, are seeking the changes as a result of a scandal this spring that prompted then-House Speaker John Diehl, R-Town and Country, to resign over sexual text messages he was exchanging with a college-age intern.

Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, wait out the final hours of the Missouri Senate's session. Both men were strong proponents of "right to work" legislation, which is opposed strongly by labor unions.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

It wasn't particularly surprising that state Sen. Bob Onder was pushing hard to get so-called "right to work" legislation through a seemingly intractable Missouri Senate.

The Lake Saint Louis Republican campaigned last year in support of right to work, which bars arrangements that force workers to pay union dues if a majority voted to organize. He supported that measure even though the population of union members has steadily increased in St. Charles County, which may be why his two unsuccessful GOP rivals opposed right to work during the campaign.

Clockwise from upper left, Sen. Ron Richard, R, Joplin; Reps. Jake Hummel and Karla May, newly elected Speaker Todd Richardson at microphone, Gov. Jay Nixon
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On a “classic edition” of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio reporters Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Marshall Griffin take stock of one of the strangest ends to a Missouri General Assembly session in recent memory.

Wikipedia

On Monday, “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh led a discussion about what was and was not accomplished during the Missouri legislative session.

Marsh talked to St. Louis Public Radio reporters and Terry Jones, Founders’ Professor of Political Science and Public Policy Administration at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

The St. Louis Public Radio reporters included Jo Mannies, Marshall Griffin and Jason Rosenbaum.

State Sen. Scott Sifton angrily speaks on Wednesday. The Affton Democrat was a key figure in grinding business of the Senate to a halt after Republicans stopped a filibuster of right to work.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The final week of the Missouri General Assembly's session is usually pretty hectic — but not for the reasons that occurred last week.

Even the traditional paper toss was unusual this year as several representatives did not participate. 5.15.15
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Only one major piece of legislation passed the Missouri General Assembly during its final day of the 2015 session, capping a surreal and strange week that saw the House speaker resign and the Senate paralyzed.

After days of delay, both chambers found time Friday to swiftly approve a must-pass bill necessary for the state to accept its annual $3.5 billion in federal money to pay for the existing Medicaid program and related health care expenses.

Protesters disrupt opening day of Missouri legislature 2015
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio / politics

In a year that is more likely to be remembered for text messages and parliamentary maneuvers than legislative accomplishments, some bills were passed. Going in, the leadership (Republican) was determined to pass the state's budget bills early so that the governor (a Democrat) couldn't veto measures and then use the summer to campaign on issues raised in the fiscal plan.

St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri General Assembly is heading into its final week with an unusually short to-do list.

That’s because a number of issues, including a new state budget, were approved early. 

When legislators return Monday, Republican leaders had first planned to tackle the budget-item vetoes that Gov. Jay Nixon issued Friday afternoon. But the governor only vetoed one item, because of a technical error that's unlikely to generate an override. Instead, legislators will try to fix the problem.

This week, St. Louis Public Radio reporters Chris McDaniel, Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies use the  Politically Speaking podcast have decided to look into their crystal balls to discuss what’s ahead for Missouri politics in 2015.  

It’s a time of transition for both the Missouri General Assembly and St. Louis County government. The legislature comes back into session on Wednesday with some new members, and an even stronger Republican majority, while a new county executive has taken over in the state’s largest county.

On the show, we talked about:

James Cridland via Flickr

Legal questions surrounding Michael Brown’s death and events in Ferguson again dominated the conversation among our legal roundtable.

Justice Department Investigations

The Justice Department has three roles in Ferguson, said William Freivogel, director of the school of journalism at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. First: A criminal investigation, independent of the state’s investigation.

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

As of Thursday, all Missouri state laws will be revised to remove references to “mentally retarded’’ and “mental retardation.’’ In their place will be the phrases “intellectually disabled’’ and “intellectual disability.”

Owners of surface mines will have to notify more property owners before starting operations. Insurers must cover oral anti-cancer medications if they cover intravenous ones. Casinos can offer lines of credit to gamblers.

And breastfeeding mothers can be excused from jury duty.

Gov. Jay Nixon speaks to a class at Rockwood Summit High School in Fenton.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

(Updated at 1 p.m. Monday with additional comments from House Speaker Tim Jones.)

Gov. Jay Nixon proved that he can outdo himself, at least when it comes to vetoing legislation. 

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate had seven new members after the smoke cleared from the 2006 election cycle. Only two served for the maximum time allowed under term limits – Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, and state Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah.

The two lawmakers are at the opposite ends of the political spectrum. Justus entered the General Assembly as a combative fighter who fought tooth-and-nail against the Republican majority. Lager, who was arguably more conservative than his Republican counterparts, seemed on a course for higher office.

Wikipedia

Barring last-minute resurrections before 6 p.m. Friday, several hot issues before the Missouri General Assembly this session are stone cold and legislatively buried.

After several days of vigorous debates and votes this week, leaders of the state House and Senate have had to make tough choices on which issues they have time to handle before adjournment -- and which ones they must jettison until next year.

Here are the most likely casualties:

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

The final days of the Missouri General Assembly's session can produce triumph, frustration, anger and befuddlement -- all in the span of an hour or two.

All of these disparate emotions take place in the living, breathing Missouri Capitol. And while describing that "last few days of session" essence can be difficult, it can perhaps be portrayed in a series of photographs.

St. Louis Public Radio reporter Jason Rosenbaum spent a couple of days in Jefferson City this week. He found time in his jam-packed schedule to take some pictures.

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