Legis. Leaders on Achievements, Disappointments of 2016 Session

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- State lawmakers introduced 2040 bills and 87 resolutions during the Missouri legislative session that ended Friday. Of those, 139 bills and one resolution passed.

House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) says he's most pleased with ethics and welfare reform measures that passed.

"We put a meaningful revolving door limit in place, a ban on paid political consultants and rules in place for how people are allowed to invest in their campaign funds," said Richardson.

One ethics bill that passed requires state elected officials to wait six months after the end of their term before they can become lobbyists. Another passed bars elected officials from hiring one another as political consultants. State lawmakers also passed a bill that requires candidates registering as lobbyists to end their campaign committees and return the money to their donors or give it to a nonprofit or political party committee.

Richardson wants restrictions on lobbyist gifts to lawmakers to become law next year.

"Obviously we're disappointed with the gift ban not getting across the finish line," said Richardson.

hummelHouse Minority Leader Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis) says one of the top achievements for his caucus was the defeat of a same-sex marriage proposal. The resolution would've asked voters if churches and businesses should be protected from penalties and lawsuits for denying services to gay weddings.

"I couldn't be prouder of the bi-partisan work to stop something hateful, something that would've destroyed businesses in this state and enshrined discrimination into our constitution," said Hummel.

Hummel said that the failure to pass a way to fund work on the state's roads and bridges was the biggest disappointment of the session. One measure that passed in the Senate but died in the House would have asked voters if Missouri's gas tax should be increased 5.9 cents per gallon to fund transportation.
Senate Minority Leader Joe Keaveny (at podium) with members of his caucus.

Senate Minority Leader Joe Keaveny (at podium) with members of his caucus.

Senate Minority Leader Joe Keaveny (D-St. Louis) voiced a similar sentiment as Hummel about the same-sex marriage resolution.

"We're outnumbered 24 to 8. For us to draw that kind of attention to that type of issue, I'm very proud of my caucus for that," said Keaveny.

He says his top disappointment this session was the defunding of Planned Parenthood of about $300,000 in tax dollars.

"We're turning back millions of federal dollars to deprive Planned Parenthood of about $300,000. In my own mind, I don't understand why we'd take that kind of stance and deprive the citizens of the state that kind of money," said Keaveny.

Senator Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City) says priorities for Senate Republicans this session were ethics and tort reform and voter photo ID. He is pleased that proposals on all three issues have passed.

"We leave here with three pieces of ethics legislation. I said I'd like to get one or two pieces passed," said Kehoe. "We have two tort reform bills on the Governor's desk and photo ID just got across the finish line."

The legislature passed a measure that would ask voters in August or November whether the state Constitution should be changed to allow for a photo ID requirement at the polls.

One of the tort proposals passed would ensure that only people who are truly expert witnesses are able to provide expert testimony.

The Senate's President, Ron Richard (R-Joplin), is disappointed his chamber fell one vote short of passing a measure that would've required public employees' annual permission before union dues could be taken from their checks. It was one of two bills that Governor Nixon has vetoed so far this session.

Richardson was also disappointed that veto override was not completed, after his chamber voted to make that bill law over the Governor's objection.

"We were disappointed after putting in a ton of work to try to get the first labor reform bill done in the history of this state and doing it with a historic veto override here in the House that we came up a vote short in the Senate," said Richardson.

The legislature returns to the Capitol in September for the veto session, in which it will consider whether to override any other vetoes Nixon might make to bills it passed.

(Alisa Nelson, Missourinet)

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