MO Senate pulls all-nighter over MOHELA plan
By Marshall Griffin, KWMU
Jefferson City, MO – It was an all-nighter for Missouri State Senators in Jefferson City. They debated a plan - from 8:00 p.m. Monday until about 10:00 a.m. Tuesday - to use money from the state's student loan agency, MOHELA, to pay for construction contracts.
Democrats opposes to the plan have been filibustering. After a few hours' break Tuesday morning, they were expected to continue their effort in the afternoon.
KWMU's Marshall Griffin was covering the filibuster and says the Senate was empty most of the night, even though debate continues. Most Senators would sneak out for a break or nap from time to time.
The debate included discussing the bill's merits, offering up amendments, and occasionally filibustering the bill.
Democrat Chuck Graham of Columbia doesn't think the final product should interfere with stem cell research, which may be conducted at some of the MOHELA-funded buildings: "Explain to me how we're gonna have a state-of-the-art cancer hospital, next to a medical school, that doesn't do cancer research in that building."
Last month, 6 projects linked to possible cloning were removed from, then later added back onto, the governor's education bill.
The debate also ranged to the less-than-germaine to the MOHELA debate. Democrats Jeff Smith of St. Louis and Jolie Justus of Kansas City chatted about good dental hygene at one point.
"Senator, when was the last time you've been to the dentist?" asked Smith. "I'm really horrible about that," Justus responded. "But I tell you what, I didn't go for 10 years, one stretch, and when I went, it was probably 8 months ago, and the dentist that I went to was my friend, and you know what he said? He said, 'you're perfect, you're fine.' And I said, 'Well, I'll see you in 10 years.'"
Earlier this morning, after some tempers appeared to have flared, Democrat Victor Callahan of Independence, spoke on the floor. "Part of the Senate is, we're supposed to be the saucer to cool things, and there seems to be a lot of hot tempers and a lot of hot temperatures," he said. "And it just seems like, this saucer should attempt to do its job and come up with a compromise."
Shortly after 8:00 this morning, staff members brought box breakfasts and cups of orange juice to senators as they continued to debate.