2nd Half Preview

As we look toward next week, and the second half of the legislative session, both Republican and Democratic, Senate and House legislators say that the relations between their two chambers will be the biggest factor determining how much gets passed.

Here’s the situation…

The Senate spent most of the first half methodically passing tort reform and labor reform bills – nearly on the pace of one each week.

Those bills now will work their way through the House committee process, but they were passed with the warning that moving these items through the Senate is never easy.  In other words, the House should be prepared to pass them as they are.  If they make changes and send them back to the Senate, the likelihood of final passage declines dramatically.

The House is obviously not thrilled with this dynamic.  But the friction is furthered by what one legislator describes as the Senate attitude toward the House.  “[We] sent multiple priorities over to the Senate to see them buried (lobbyist gift ban), laid over (Uber), or ignored (charter schools).”

It’s said that House Speaker Todd Richardson would like to see some results before he passes all of the priorities of his counterpart – Senate Pro Tem Ron Richard.

Complicating the Senate’s ability to pass these items are two factors: Governor Eric Greitens’ continuing unpopularity in the Senate, and the fact that once legislation is seen as a priority it becomes more valuable for legislators to use as leverage for their own purposes.

For example, when the ride-sharing legislation came up, Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal spoke at length about the environmental problems in her district, and Sen. Rob Schaaf spoke about his loathing of managed care.  Both were apparently seeking to use the legislation to advance their legislative agenda.

Additionally, Greitens’ ill-fated insertion into the pay raise issue earlier in session is still dogging him in the chamber.  His refusal to come clean on his donors has led to speculation that there may be hedge-funders who contributed who are also investors in ride-sharing companies.  This has created a class of enemies for the lobbyist gift ban and Uber bills.

And finally there is the fear of a Senate blow-up.  It could come in the form of an early PQ on prevailing wage or some other form, like a mutiny that paralyzes the body.  Everyone is aware that a “traumatic” event in the Senate can suddenly and severely shut down the legislative flow.


Originally in March 24 MOScout.