JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Some question how much power he actually wields as President of the Senate, but his party is considering his proposal.
Missouri Senate Republicans are holding a conference call Friday to mull over GOP Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson’s plan of attack for next week’s annual legislative “veto session”. Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard and Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe will be in on the call.
Parson held a news conference Thursday morning in Jefferson City where he urged lawmakers to call for a special session during the scheduled gathering.
He wants them to deal with two issues during the special gathering. He first asked the legislature to fully fund an in-home and nursing home service for low-income seniors and disabled people.
The legislature voted to provide the needed money for the Medicaid program on the last day of this year’s session, but Governor Greitens, R, vetoed the plan. He said the measure, which would be financed by sweeping surplus money from other departments, was unconstitutional, and a “last-minute budget gimmick”.
Parson wants lawmakers to craft new legislation to deal with the issue, which would require a special session. He expressed confidence that leadership in both parties are unifying behind a single approach. “I think they have a plan,” said Parson. “I think you will see them come with a solution to that problem. I think both the House and the Senate will. Both Democrat and Republicans will find a way to resolve this.”
The Lieutenant Governor stressed the importance of finding a solution for financing the nursing care program, which demonstrates a split in thinking with Governor Greitens. The governor had proposed much deeper cuts to the program in his original budget.
As it stands now, roughly 8,000 low-income elderly and disabled people stand to lose their in home and nursing home care. House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Polar Bluff, released a response to Parson’s announcement on the issue, saying the lower chamber is “ready and willing to develop a fiscally responsible answer to this serious problem”.
The Lieutenant Governor next reiterated his call for Democratic Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City to be disciplined by lawmakers. On August 17, Chappelle-Nadal posted and then deleted the phrase “I hope Trump is assassinated!” on her Facebook page.
Parson indicated his office has been contacted by “tens of thousands of concerned Missourians” since then, asking for Chappelle-Nadal to resign or be expelled from office.
He said a majority of Senators agree some action needs to be taken against her, but acknowledged some Senators had said they would vote against a special session. Parson urged residents to contact their Representatives and Senators on both the nursing care and Chappelle Nadal issues.
The Lieutenant Governor’s desire to have both issues dealt with in a single special session reflects a difference in interpretation of the law with Governor Greitens. The governor has called two special sessions this year on different topics and emphasized early on that only one subject was allowed during each gathering.
Parson’s strategy of having lawmakers call the special session is not the chosen approach of all lawmakers. Republican Representative Justin Alferman of Hermann thinks only Governor Greitens is in a position call to for the gathering.
“It will absolutely have to be called for by the governor,” said Alferman. “Just the logistics of calling a special session from the general assembly, it takes three-fourths of legislators in both chamber to do so. Just the logistics of trying to get signatures to do that…pretty difficult.”
Alferman also said it wouldn’t be wise for lawmakers to call for a special session on their own because the governor could veto whatever he didn’t approve of up front. For his part, Governor Greitens stated his preference earlier this week for the legislature to take action on a special session.
“As we’ve communicated with the Senate and the House leadership, they have the power right now to take action,” said Greitens. “We’re going to be looking to them to take that action. I think it’s important that they do.”
During his news conference, Parson also mentioned Republican House member Warren Love of Osceola, who posted a highly contentious statement on Facebook. Love called for vandals who threw paint on a Confederate statue to be “found & hung from a tall tree with a long rope”.
Parson criticized Love’s comment, but said as President of the Senate, he could only hold sway over that chamber’s activity. “The House of Representatives is going to have to decide. I’m not going to have to decide how they handle Representative Love. I’m going to decide on what I feel like is best for the Senate. I’m going to keep those two separate.”
House Minority Floor Leader Gail McCann Beatty of Kansas City fired back hours later, asserting that Parson had little power over Senate operations. She also criticized his treatment of the two controversial statements.
“In short, his authority over state representatives is exactly the same as his authority over state senators – non-existent,” said McCann Beatty. “The only thing stopping Mike Parson from taking a consistent position is his own partisan hypocrisy.”
(Jason Taylor, Missourinet)