Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bahr on last days of session, John Diehl, and cranky Democrats

(From Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-O-Fallon)

We concluded our last week of the 2015 Legislative Session and it was not our proudest moment. As I take a moment to reflect on the two major events of last week, I feel as though I need to explain to you, my constituents what happened. As Paul Harvey would say, “This is the rest of the story….”
I will start with the Senate because it began on Friday, May 8th. The Right to Work bill had been sitting for a while on the Senate side with negotiations going back and forth with the Democrats to see how it could be made more palatable to them. The Republicans did not want to bring the bill up too early if it was going to blow up the rest of session. That Friday the Democrats announced that they would filibuster everything in the Senate unless the Right to Work bill was brought up. They started with the Journal. The Democrats demanded that the Journal be read word for word. A secretary had to read 67 pages of journal out loud in the Senate Chambers.

Senate leadership was supposed to bring it up on Monday and they opened up talks with the Democrats. It was believed that agreements were being reached but every time they got close, it would fall apart. Thus on Monday, all that happened was that poor Secretary read the journal aloud and then they recessed.

On Tuesday, the Republicans hoping to get some work done allowed Right to Work to be brought up on the floor. It became an 8 hour filibuster. The only way to end a filibuster is to call for the Previous Question (PQ). In order to call for the PQ, you must have 5 senators sign a motion. This ends debate, gets voted on and if the PQ passes then there is a vote on the original bill.

After the PQ was voted on and passed, the Right to Work Bill came up for a vote and passed. From that moment on the Democrat Senators declared they would filibuster every bill that was coming up including the Medicaid Reimbursement Fix bill. The problem is if they did not pass the Medicaid bill, MO would lose $3.5B of Medicaid reimbursements from the Federal Government. None of us believed that the Democrats would be so petty just because they lost a vote but we almost proven wrong.

Wednesday and Thursday mornings, the Senate came in and the Democrats made the secretary read the whole journal aloud then they filibuster whatever bill is being brought up including the Medicaid Reimbursement Fix. The Democrats filibuster of the entire process brought the Senate and the House to a standstill. They did finally pass that bill on the last day of session then ended session and went home.

While in the midst of this chaos, we found out through the Kansas City Star that our Speaker had an inappropriate texting relationship with a young woman. The Speaker met with the Caucus in small groups to personally explain his side of the story. Wednesday night we met as a caucus to discuss what we would do going forward. Most of us easily forgave the Speaker as a person but had concerns with him remaining speaker. Galatians says 6:1 “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” Neither I nor many of my colleagues desired to publically rebuke the Speaker. On Thursday after the shock and emotion subsided the Caucus met again and the Speaker informed us that he would immediately resign saving us the task of voting to retain or oust him as speaker.
On Friday we elected the current Majority Leader Todd Richardson as the new Speaker. He is a lawyer from Popular Bluff and highly respected by both sides of the isle. He will likely be Speaker for the next three years. After that the House passed the few bills we had that could be sent to the Governor without another vote from the Senate. It was anti-climatic from the traditional hectic last day of session. 

Next month I will send out an End of Session Report to my constituents. This will show what we accomplished this session. While we didn’t pass as many bills we did pass some significant issues. For those of us who like smaller government perhaps we should thank the Senate Democrats for sabotaging the legislative process. But today, I just want to remind everyone that the Bible says in Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” May God bless each and everyone one of you. Hold on to your families and love them.

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