GOP Dissenters On HB253 Say They're Not Afraid Of Consequences
Some of the 15 Missouri Republican House members who voted against overriding a veto of a controversial tax cut bill say they're not worried about any negative fallout or consequences they may face.
Lawmakers who spoke to St. Louis Public Radio said they objected to provisions in House Bill 253 that would have eliminated several sales tax exemptions, including those for prescription drugs and college textbooks. In the aftermath of Wednesday's failed veto override, several conservative political activists voiced outrage on various social media outlets and suggested that the 15 dissenters should be challenged by other Republicans in next year's party primaries. Also, House Speaker Tim Jones (R, Eureka), during an appearance Thursday on a St. Louis-area radio talk show, said that he would "take a hard look at everything," which could include stripping committee chairmanships away from some of the dissenters.
State Representative Don Phillips (R, Kimberling City) chairs the House Committee on Tourism and Natural Resources. He says he's not worried if his "no" vote costs him his chairmanship or makes his re-election bid harder.
"I don't take well to threats, I'm not gonna be bullied, and I can't be legally bribed," Phillips said. "The people I represent feel the same way."
State Representative Paul Fitzwater (R, Potosi) also faces the possibility of being stripped of his chairmanship of the House Committee on Corrections. He says he'll survive and move on if that happens, and that he's also not worried if his vote means facing a challenger in next year's Republican primary.
"I'm a big boy, and no one said it was gonna be easy," Fitzwater said. "I'll just continue to work hard in my district and represent the people of my district as well as I see fit, and I'll let the people in the district make that decision -- if I have a primary, so be it."
Fellow Republican Sue Entlicher of Bolivar declined an on-air interview with St. Louis Public Radio for this story, but she did offer a few comments: she says she voted "no" after surveying around 300 of her constituents and that nearly 2/3rds of them opposed the override attempt. She also said that she "didn't think it was that good of a bill." Entlicher chairs the House Committee on Elections.
State Representative Jeffrey Messenger (R, Republic) indicated that he was bothered by language he says could have raised taxes on propane customers. He also says that Governor Jay Nixon's (D) anti-override tour across the state this summer had no impact whatsoever on his "no" vote.
Messenger, Fitzwater, and Phillips all say they support tax cuts, and they would have supported House Bill 253 had it not been for the removal of sales tax exemptions.
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport