Bob Ehle of KWIX Radio contributed to this story
State Senator Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown) says a group of state Senators is using every Senate rule possible to derail the chamber’s business. He tells Missourinet Moberly affiliate KWIX Radio that there is unprecedented tension among Senators this session.
“They just do everything they can to throw up roadblocks. This late in the session, every hour that goes by, another bill dies. It’s not good,” says Munzlinger during a live show this week at the state Capitol. “It is crazy and they have no respect for the rest of us Senate members. I’ve been here for 15 years. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Munzlinger declined to name those responsible.
Attack ads have reportedly been released by Republican Governor Eric Greitens’ political action committee against five Republicans and one Democrat – Senators Rob Schaaf, Bob Dixon, Jason Holsman, Doug Libla, Gary Romine and Ryan Silvey. The PAC claims the Senators are blocking the passage legislation that is meant to protect law enforcement when an officer is attacked.
The PAC – A New Missouri – was created to support Greitens’ agenda. An advisor to Greitens, Austin Chambers, heads the PAC. Schaaf says Chambers takes marching orders from Greitens.
Schaaf, a Republican, has led several recent solo filibusters that brought Senate floor action to a halt. In a recent unprecedented move, he also had each House bill that is largely supported be removed from a position that’s meant to streamline the legislative process.
Schaaf has also taken aim this session at Greitens for the governor’s refusal to release details about some campaign contributions or so-called dark money. He has sponsored past legislation to reign in on lavish campaign contributions.
Schaaf and other members have been lobbying for the Senate to debate ethics related measures, including restrictions from special interests to legislators. Members against such legislation have been pushing back and might not allow the debate to happen.
The first bill out of the House this session was one that limits lobbyists gifts to lawmakers.
Silvey sent a letter this week to Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard (R-Joplin) that mocked Richard for not choosing Silvey to serve on the Senate Budget Conference Committee. Silvey, a Republican, is the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Silvey’s office does not recall a time in Missouri history when a state Senate Budget Committee chairman and vice chairman have not been chosen to serve on the conference committee.
The relationship between Silvey and Richard took a rigid turn this session when Richard chose Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla) instead of Silvey to serve as the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman. Some speculate that Silvey’s opposition to legislation that bans mandatory union fees cost him the position. Brown sponsored the Right-to-Work bill that has been signed into law.
The legislature has sent the governor 15 bills and five resolutions so far this session. Since Senate and budget work has been stalled, Munzlinger says Republicans might not have enough time to accomplish other priorities before the regular session ends next Friday.
“I do look for a special session. We’ve had a lot of minor bills. We’ve had some very major bills that have yet to be done,” says Munzlinger.
Governor Greitens has not ruled out a special session. Missouri taxpayers would have to foot the bill for a special session.