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Politically Speaking: Minority Leader Walsh Takes Stock Of Gov. Parson's First Year

Missouri Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh speaks to reporters on the last day of the legislative session in Jefferson City on Friday.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh speaks to reporters on the last day of the 2019 legislative session in Jefferson City.

Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh returns to Politically Speaking to talk with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum about Gov. Mike Parson’s first year in office, as well as the lay of the land for organized labor.

The Bellefontaine Neighbors Democrat represents Missouri’s 13th Senatorial District, which takes in a portion of north St. Louis County. Walsh will leave the Senate after 2020 because of term limits, completing a 16-year legislative tenure that began in the early 2000s.

As minority leader, Walsh is often the spokeswoman and chief negotiator for the 10-person Democratic caucus. While Democrats are heavily outnumbered in the Missouri Senate, they often can make a mark on major bills because of the state’s tradition of a strong filibuster.

This past session, the Senate managed to avoid using a procedure known as the “previous question” that cuts off a filibuster. That nearly happened to pass legislation banning most abortions after eight weeks. But that bill was allowed to go through the Senate after hours of negotiations. 

The Senate may not be as lucky next year, especially if Republicans seek to place a measure undoing a new state legislative redistricting system known as Clean Missouri on the 2020 ballot. Those efforts stalled out during the last week of session, but foes of the redistricting plan have vowed to bring the issue up next year.

Here’s what Walsh had to say during the show:

  • Walsh talked about the differences between Parson’s approach to dealing with the General Assembly compared to former Gov. Eric Greitens. While Greitens was combative with lawmakers, Walsh said Parson has been much more collaborative.
  • She said it was “pretty hurtful” back in 2018 when many ordinary people were “painting my colleagues with the same brush as Gov. Greitens. There’s a difference. There’s politicians, there’s statesmen,” she said. “But people just want to serve. Let’s face it: They don’t take this job on to get rich.” 
  • Walsh said it was a good thing the Senate refrained from using the “previous question” to end the filibuster, as the procedure often caused strained relationships within the chamber.
  • She also discussed how Democrats are stacking up in the run up to the 2020 election cycle — especially since there isn’t a competitive U.S. Senate race or presidential contest that will attract a lot of outside money or manpower.

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Politically Speaking

The podcast is sponsored by the St. Louis-based law firm of Capes Sokol

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Gina Walsh on Twitter: @walshgina

Music: “I Can’t Wait” by Nu Shooz

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.