Work In Missouri Senate Slows As Session Nears End

Jefferson City News Tribune – Work in the Missouri Senate ground to a halt for the second consecutive day Tuesday as lawmakers face a deadline to send bills to Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk in less than two weeks.

Senators adjourned within minutes Tuesday after doing essentially nothing Monday. The session ends May 12, putting a time crunch on the Republican-led Legislature to push bills through to the Republican governor.

Assistant Majority Floor Leader Bob Onder said the Senate adjourned to give lawmakers time to work on the budget, which is due Friday.

The standstill on other bills follows threats from Sen. Rob Schaaf to block legislation until there’s debate on strengthening state ethics laws. He said on Monday he reached an agreement with colleagues to allow work to move forward on the budget.

 

Further complicating things is the absence of Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, who went to his farm near Rolla over the weekend and was not able to return to Jefferson City because of flooding. Kehoe is sponsoring an ethics bill that would limit lobbyist gifts.

This isn’t the first time in recent years that work in the Senate has slowed to a crawl.

Democrats led a 37-hour filibuster last year — the longest continuous debate in recent Missouri history — in opposition to a proposal to create religious protections for those objecting to gay marriage. After Republicans used a rare procedural move to force a vote, Senate Democrats in response stalled action in the chamber for days.

The Missouri Legislature also came to a standstill the day before the end of the 2015 session after the former Republican House speaker announced his resignation amid a scandal and Senate Democrats blocked all debate because of lingering animosity over a bill limiting union powers.

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