Missouri General Assembly

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.

(via Flickr/kcds)

Differences between the Missouri House and Senate may once again kill an effort to nullify federal gun laws.

The Missouri House voted Tuesday evening by a veto-proof margin, 109-42, to approve a conference committee’s proposed final version of the bill, officially known as the “Second Amendment Preservation Act.”

But the chief Senate sponsor, state Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, declined to sign the panel’s compromise and told reporters that he may not bring up the version for a final Senate vote before this session ends on Friday. The result would be to kill the bill.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri House passed legislation on Thursday curtailing two of the state’s largest tax credit programs. 

State Rep. Anne Zerr’s bill would reduce the historic preservation tax credit’s cap to $90 million from $140 million. That program helps refurbish older buildings and has been used extensively throughout St. Louis.

The bill would also gradually reduce the cap on the tax credit for low-income housing to $110 million from $140 million. That credit provides an incentive for developers to build housing for the working poor, elderly and disabled.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio) / St. Louis Public Radio)

Alderman Antonio French is sponsoring legislation to require videotaping or transcribing various meetings and hearings in city government. French is one of several people seeking to use the web to make government more transparent to the public. 

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French knows something about putting a camera in the face of government. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Missouri state Rep. Steve Webb, D-Florissant, announced Monday that he was finally resigning, several weeks after House Democratic leaders had called on him to do so.

Webb, a former head of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus, faces felony stealing charges as well as misdemeanor counts of campaign finance-related violations.

Gov. Jay Nixon's criticism of the legislature was relatively low key. 5.15.15
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - As the Missouri General Assembly prepares to convene for a special session to woo Boeing, several groups on both sides of the job-creation debate are weighing in with their ideas.

Gov. Peter Kinder, in 2008, praises legislation aimed at luring Bombardier to Missouri. That bill didn't entice the Canadian-based company to come to Missouri. And it's an open question whether a potential package to get Boeing to build 777X planes in St.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Long before the Missouri General Assembly became paralyzed over the scope and size of tax credits, it wasn't unusual for the Show-Me State's political leaders to reach economic development accords.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s plan called for a meeting this week with legislators to discuss Medicaid expansion as part of an apparent focus on health care as the General Assembly prepares to go back into session in six weeks.

The meeting now appears dead, the casualty of a dispute between the governor and two legislative committees over who would control the proceedings.

For the last decade, one of the key groups influencing legislative initiatives in Missouri, and many other states with a strong conservative presence, has been the American Legislative Exchange Council, more commonly known as ALEC.

Founded by conservative state legislators in 1973 and funded by major corporations, the nonprofit think tank focuses primarily on economic issues but also has zeroed in on public education and gun rights as well.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In the wake of the Missouri Legislature's failure to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a tax-cut bill, some Republicans called out the 15 members of their party who went against the leadership and the rest of the caucus.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The House sponsor of a pro-gun bill that came within one vote of becoming Missouri law during this week's veto session is pledging to work with the two fellow Republicans in the state Senate who killed the bill – Senate leaders Tom Dempsey and Ron Richard – to come up with a compromise version to be considered next year.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The National Rifle Association hasn't been shy about touting Missouri-based bills that earned its support.

When Gov. Matt Blunt signed the so-called Castle Doctrine and “Hunting Heritage Protection Areas Act” bills, NRA lobbyist Chris Cox joined the Republican chief executive on his  signing tour. Cox said in a prepared statement: “I can’t think of a better early celebration of the 4th of July than by the signing into law of two important bills that reaffirm freedom.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A first-term state representative was arrested this weekend in central Missouri for allegedly possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

According to  the Missouri Highway Patrol, state Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, D-Kansas City, was arrested at 3:05 p.m. Sunday in Boone County. According to LaFaver's statement, he was pulled over for failing to respond to Moniteau County charges that he had operated his vehicle with an expired license tag and without insurance.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When state Sen. Brad Lager spoke on the last day of this year's Missouri General Assembly session, he grabbed attention for calling members of the Missouri House “corrupt.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has dispatched two more gun-related bills – vetoing one and signing the other – as he continues what could be a record-setting string of vetoes since he took office.

But in these two cases, the governor on Friday made a point of citing his own gun-toting practices and his love of hunting (especially deer and doves).

Speaker Tim Jones and Majority Leader John Diehl confer during session's final hours
Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: With the exception of its laser focus on gun rights, the 97th session of the Missouri General Assembly that ended at 6 p.m. Friday pretty much reflected the recent tradition:

The Republican majority portrayed it an “immense success,’’ the Democrats called it an extremist failure and Gov. Jay Nixon declined to say.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When the Missouri House convened Thursday, legislators looked up to see a spooky sight: a life-size human “body” lying atop the chamber’s huge skylight.

The “body” turned out to be a paper cutout placed on the roof as a joke.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri General Assembly has ended. The legislature has approved some consequential bills -- and left others unattended. As we count down to the end of the session on Friday, this list will be updated to reflect legislation that’s passed -- or passed on.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Hours before adjournment for the year, a state Senate filibuster appears to have killed a tax credit package that had won approval from the House just a couple hours earlier.

The package had been assembled by House and Senate conferees late Thursday and approved by leaders in both chambers.

Flickr | jimbowen0306)

Leaders in the Missouri House and Senate have just one day left to reach agreement on a number of unresolved issues, including an ongoing dispute over how to control spending on state tax credits.

"There's four or five things I've promised senators that we'd get to," said Republican floor leader Ron Richard, including some form of an economic development bill.

The two chambers remain divided over the cap on historic preservation and low-income housing credits. The House has sent a proposal over to the Senate, but it's likely to fail.

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