After weeks of filibusters, extreme infighting among Republicans, and a couple days grinding to a halt, the legislature passed 49 pieces of legislation plus the Budget bills. A record low.
The Missouri Senate’s journey to push out the state’s $27.8 billion budget has been a hurried effort, having received the bills later than usual, but Missouri’s upper chamber managed to knock out the budget with 24 hours to spare.
Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, serves as the chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee and admitted that the budget this session was rather rushed, with the Senate having just 17 legislative days to work out the kinks. And there was plenty to be worked out, as members of both chambers still had strong feelings about certain items, perhaps none more so than the proposed cuts to in-home care and nursing services.
Activity in the Senate this week revolved around getting the budget bills passed on the floor. Senator Gary Romine (R-Farmington) shook the process by successfully amending the K-12 education bill to fully fund the state foundation formula. His amendment, which was opposed by Budget Chairman Dan Brown, received the necessary 18 votes and added an additional $45 million to the formula funding.
Last week, the Senate rolled the Senate Perfection Calendar, allowing leadership to pick and choose from the hundred-plus Senate bills on the Senate Calendar – Senate Bills for Perfection. The word is that Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe has promised all thirty-three senators that they will be able to have floor debate on their number one priority bill on that calendar.
This week the Senate continued to slog through legislation at a pace slower than a turtle’s race. The chamber spent an inordinate amount of time debating paycheck protection (annual affirmation by union members to withhold dues and fees) without any conclusion of the issue. Senators also thoroughly debated a tort reform piece relating to the qualifications of expert witnesses which culminated in passage of the bill. There are now 147 bills on the Senate Calendar – Senate Bills for Perfection and 38 bills on the Senate Calendar – House Bills on Second Reading.