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Government, Politics & Issues
Gov. Eric Greitens announced in late May that he would resign after facing months of political and legal scandals.The saga started in January, when KMOV released a recording of a woman saying Greitens took a compromising photo of her during a sexual encounter and threatened to blackmail her.A St. Louis grand jury indicted Greitens in February on felony invasion of privacy. The woman testified to lawmakers that Greitens sexually and physically abused her, spurring bipartisan calls for his resignation or impeachment.The invasion of privacy charge was eventually dropped by St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office following a series of prosecutorial missteps before the trial began. Greitens was also accused of illegally obtaining a donor list from the veterans non-profit he co-founded with his political campaign, but that charge, too, was dismissed as part a deal that led to his resignation as governor.

Missouri lawmakers keep working on bills despite cloud of Greitens’ indictment

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File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers debated and passed several bills this week, even with the ongoing distraction of the indictment of Gov. Eric Greitens.

The first-term Republican faces a May 14 trial date on an of invasion of privacy charge, in which he’s accused of taking a semi-nude photo in 2015 of his then-mistress without her permission. Greitens maintains he’s innocent.

The House on Thursday voted 154-0 on a resolution to authorize a newly created committee to investigate the indictment of the governor, which could lead to impeachment.

Just before that vote, the chamber passed legislation designed to ease regulations on animal owners who have been cleared of abusing pets or livestock. It includes shortening the time authorities have to appear before an animal disposition hearing from 30 days to 10. Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette, opposed the bill.

“We have had a law in place since the early '90s that has worked just fine,” she said. “I think this bill is a solution to something that has not been a problem.”

State Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette
Credit Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio
Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette.

The sponsor, Republican Sonya Anderson of Springfield, disagreed, saying some owners lost custody of their animals because they couldn’t afford to post bond or pay other legal costs.

“It gives the animal owner an opportunity to have his or her animals returned, at no charge, should they be found innocent of (criminal) charges,” she said.

The measure passed 113-42.

The Missouri Senate passed and gave initial approval to several bills this week. They include a measure that would block an attempt to ban horse-drawn carriage rides in St. Louis but allow the city to pass more regulations on their use. It’s now in the hands of the House.

But the upper chamber was again delayed by a filibuster, this time on a bill designed to curb the number of lawsuits filed in Missouri involving incidents that happened in other states. Plus, Republican Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph and Democrat Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City are threatening to slow down the Senate by speaking for four minutes on every motion made on the floor.

Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said it’s their right to do so. However, he added: “It’s up to the body, as I told Sen. Schaaf in an inquiry, how we proceed when those kind of threats are made, but it’s not probably the best thing for the relationships in the (Senate) body, and that’s all that I hope they keep in mind.”

Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, was sworn in Monday as lieutenant governor of Missouri.
Credit Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City.

The two Senators have expressed frustration on several issues, ranging from Schaaf’s opposition to a recently passed utility bill to the failure of Chappelle-Nadal’s bills on environmental cleanup to make it to the governor’s desk. Chappelle-Nadal has also voiced disappointment over the body’s vote last fall to censure her for a now-deleted Facebook message in which she wished that someone would assassinate President Trump.

The Senate may resume work next week on legalizing hemp for industrial use, while the House may take up a bill requiring non-union workers to be paid the same rate as union members on public projects, commonly known as the prevailing wage.

And on Thursday, Gov. Greitens signed the first bill of 2018 into law. It requires anti-human trafficking posters, which would contain a national hotline phone number displayed at airports, train and bus stations, strip clubs and any business with prior citations for prostitution. The new law requires the posters to be in place by March 1, 2019.

Follow Marshall on Twitter:@MarshallGReport

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