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Strained relationship on display as Missouri Senate reconvenes

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated March 15, 12:15 p.m. -- The slow-down in the Missouri Senate has entered its third day and forced Republicans to adjourn Tuesday after less than an hour in session.

Democrats began by forcing another full reading of the prior day's journal, which only took about 14 minutes.  Monday's journal reading was much longer, taking nearly an hour.

Then, Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, began blocking some senate members from introducing special guests.  She at first blocked fellow Democrat Kiki Curls of Kansas City from introducing members of Delta Sigma Theta sorority from being recognized, but later allowed the introduction.

Chappelle-Nadal also blocked Jeannie Riddle, R-Mokane, from recognizing a group of teachers and school administrators from Callaway County, although Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, later allowed Riddle to unofficially introduce them during floor discussion.  The group was later allowed to be officially recognized.

Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, was also blocked from introducing a group of students from Mizzou.

Chappelle-Nadal, however, allowed a few other special guests to be recognized, including the daughter of Senator Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, who was appointed a page for the day.

Democrats then took control of the floor and continued to criticize last week's motion to kill their filibuster and force a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to protect clergy and business owners from being penalized for refusing to provide services to same-sex weddings.

"It's unfortunate that we have gotten to this point because of what occurred last week, when the majority party decided to rule with an iron fist," said Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis.  "It's totally chaotic in this chamber, and I think that we will continue to see chaos as long as you have individuals, again, ruling with an iron fist."

After the Senate adjourned, Republican senate members held a closed-door meeting, most likely to discuss the Democrats' continued virtual shut-down.  A spokesperson for the GOP caucus said afterward that Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, plans to bring bills to the floor from the "Senate bills for perfection" calendar.  The perfection process is also referred to as "first-round approval."

Original story -- The Missouri Senate has not recovered from last week's filibuster and forced vote on legislation to shield clergy and businesses that refuse services to same-sex weddings.

When the Senate convened Monday afternoon, Democrats forced the daily journal to be read, which took nearly an hour. Then they spent an hour criticizing last week's actions before GOP leaders called it a day and adjourned.

Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, accused Republicans of refusing last week to find middle ground with Democrats:

"We hadn't obstructed anything this year…the expert witness bill went through…the collateral source bill went through…the paycheck (protection) bill went through…this was the one time when 1.4 million people of this state stood up and said, 'you know what? We need compromise! We need more compromise on this bill in order to bring it to a vote.' And that did not happen!"

For now, minority floor leader Joe Keaveny, D-St. Louis, says they don't have a specific plan to retaliate.

"I think both the Democrats and the Republicans are just trying to feel each other out, to see how we can progress here," he said. "Last week was pretty traumatic, so it's going to take a while before each side is comfortable with each other."

For now, Republican floor leader Mike Kehoe of Jefferson City plans to bring up less controversial bills for debate this week.

"Outcome or no outcome, what you like or don't like about last week, we ate up a lot of time that we'd like to try to make up," Kehoe said.

This is also the last work week for Missouri lawmakers before they adjourn Thursday for their annual spring break.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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