April 18, 2014

Leadership: post special session rift between House, Senate healed (AUDIO)

The relationship between leadership in the House and the Senate collapsed along with the special legislative session last year. At one point in late October, Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer (R-Dexter) said he had not spoken to House Speaker Steven Tilley (R-Perryville) in three weeks, while Tilley went so far as to say Mayer had “lied” to him about the status of a deal on legislation.

Senate President Pro-Tem Rob Mayer (left) and House Speaker Steven Tilley pictures courtesy, Missouri Senate and Missouri House of Repsresentatives

The situation left many wondering if the two ends of the Capital would be able to work together in the regular session that just began last week. Cooperation between chambers and parties is key as lawmakers take on a budget with an estimated $500 million dollar gap between revenue and expenditures.

Representative Tilley says things are getting off on a good foot. “It’s well documented we had our difficulties last year and I’ll take the blame my part of that. I had a great dinner with the President Pro Tem of the Senate. I know our Majority Leader (Tim Jones, R-Eureka) has had numerous visits with the Majority Leader of the Senate (Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles) and we want to start off on a good note, and I told Rob (Mayer) that I want to focus on areas where we agree and let’s stay away from areas where we disagree.” Tilley says he hopes there will be time at the end of the session for areas where the two disagree.

Senator Mayer says he holds no animosity about what unfolded last year. “This is a tough business and sometimes things don’t work out, and you have to put all that behind you to go forward to get some things done for the people of Missouri, so I hold no ill feelings about the House or the leadership there and look forward to working with them this year.”

Representative Tim Jones picture courtesy, Missouri House of Representatives

Representative Jones talked about appearing together with Senator Dempsey “in front of several groups over the last several months…I will tell you we had no arguments together in public. We actually spoke about common themes and principles and even common specific legislation.”

Representative Mike Talboy picture courtesy, Missouri House of Representatives

Jones says he hopes the Senate as a whole is on board with its leadership, which he says plans to pick three or four key topics to attempt to address early in the session. “I hope that there’s not any individual agendas over there that are simply thinking of themselves and not of the state as a whole. I do truly believe that there are a majority of senators that want to work with a majority of the House and actually move and pass some significant legislation that will help the state as a whole.”

The top Democrat in the House, Minority Leader Mike Talboy (D-Kansas City) says for his part, he has a good relationship with Representative Tilley and Senators Mayer and Dempsey, “so I don’t necessarily have the issues but then again I’m also not in the same position that Steve is and I realize that there are some disagreements that when you’re in charge you have to sit at the table and be able to do some things.”
 
Talboy adds “I can’t speak for what their relationship’s like but, we’ll see.”
 
AUDIO:  Mike Lear reports – 1 minute