Tired state senators are looking for a way to end a deadlock on the MOHELA bill—-the bill that lays out projects to be financed through the sale of assets of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority.
Democrats had no trouble maintaining a 15-hour, all-night filibuster until the Republican leadership called for a break to see where the proposal stands.
Filibuster leader Chuck Graham of Columbia says the political climate has changed since last year. He says there was no controversy about the kinds of research that could be done then. But he says the Governor missed the boat.
Graham says it was clear by statute last year that the law had to be changed to get the money from MOHELA. He says he filed a bill in 2006 to give MOHELA the authority to sell the assets the Governor wants sold. Graham says the Governor’s staff told him the bill wasn’t needed because the state already had the authority to sell the assets. But, he asked earlier today, "If we had the authority why have we been on the floor the last two days?"
"Because we didn’t," he responded to himself. Graham says he resents the Governor’s attitude that Democrats don’t have any good ideas
.He says the legislature was much closer last year to getting the bill approved because lawmakers generally agreed with last year’s listed projects that included a substantial development of facilities for life sciences research. But Graham says the issue has turned partisan this year because of extensive changes in the list. He has told fellow Senators the bill died last year, not because of partisanship but because the leaders of the House and Senate who, like the Governor, are Republicans could not agreed with each other.
Senate leaders of both parties agreed about 11 a.m. today to take a breather, hold caucus sessions and assess where each side stands, and see if there are opportunities for agreement. The Senate planned to go back into session at 2 p.m. although that hour has passed as we write this story and the quorum bell remains silent.