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A Look Behind The Noticeable Split Among Missouri Senate Republicans

The Missouri Senate Chamber
File | St. Louis Public Radio
The Missouri Senate came to a halt during the annual veto session after a senator's motion to override one of Gov. Mike Parson's vetoes was not recognized. Hours of debate over Senate traditions followed.

On the latest episode of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Sarah Kellogg dive into the major fissures among Senate Republicans that were showcased during last week’s veto session dispute.

In addition to breaking down what happened on the Senate floor, Rosenbaum and Kellogg spoke with two senators who were on opposite sides of the often pointed debate: Bob Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis, and Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia.

Senator Bob Onder, R-St. Charles, answers questions from reporters when a press conference ends after the senate was adjourned on the final day of the session at the Missouri State Capitol Building on Friday, May 14, 2021, in Jefferson City.
Daniel Shular
Special to St. Louis Public Radio
Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, answers questions from reporters during a press conference in May.

Here’s what was discussed on the show:

  • Kellogg explained the origins of the legislative fight, which revolved around whether a senator who was not the sponsor of a bill could make an override motion. Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, sought to override Parson’s veto of a line item of tax refunds for certain businesses, but he initially was prevented from doing so by Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, who was presiding.
  • Both Onder and Rowden delved into whether it was appropriate for Kehoe to not recognize Moon for the motion, especially since it’s relatively rare for a presiding officer to make such a move.
  • The two senators discussed whether the tensions will spill over into the 2022 legislative session. Before last Wednesday, some conservative members of the Senate were openly criticizing the chamber’s leadership on a host of issues — including how they went about passing a gas tax hike and a renewal of a critical tax to fund Missouri’s Medicaid program.

Onder has been in the Missouri Senate since 2015. He previously served a single term in the Missouri House before making a run for the now-defunct 9th Congressional District seat. Onder is a doctor who also obtained a law degree. He represents portions of St. Charles County.

 Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, listens during a press conference on May 14, 2021.
Daniel Shular/Special to St. Louis Public Radio
Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, left, at a press conference earlier this year.

Rowden recently won reelection to Missouri’s 19th Senate District, which takes in Boone and Cooper counties. He first won election to that seat in 2016 after serving two terms in the Missouri House. As majority leader, Rowden controls what gets debated on the floor — making him one of the most powerful legislators in Jefferson City.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Sarah Kellogg on Twitter: @sarahkkellogg

Follow Bob Onder on Twitter: @BobOnderMO

Follow Caleb Rowden on Twitter: @CalebRowden

Sarah Kellogg has been the Missouri Statehouse and politics reporter for St. Louis Public Radio since 2021.
Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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