A special legislative session has come to an end with lawmakers completing the tasks set before them by Governor Blunt.
A $70 million economic development bill and a change in state law to allow bids to be taken for a major bridge improvement program have both been completed by lawmakers during the two-week special legislative session.
Economic development bill (HB 1) sponsor, Rep. Ron Richard (R-Joplin), acknowledges it was a tougher battle to get a jobs bill through the legislature than he first thought. Richard had expressed at the beginning of the special session that the legislature needed to approve an economic development package or face criticism that a Republican led legislature with a Republican governor couldn’t push through a jobs bill.
Once debate settled, the House voted 125-to-19 to approve Senate changes and sent the bill to the governor.
Democrats claimed the special session wasn’t needed. They pointed out that Republicans control both the Senate and House and the governor’s office. They said that if Governor Blunt would have provided leadership in the last weeks of the regular session, he could have guided the legislature to approve an acceptable economic development plan and then he would not have felt compelled to call a special session.
House Speaker Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill) rejects suggestions that the special session was a waste of time and money. Jetton concedes that he would have liked to have completed the work in the regular session, but says Blunt showed leadership by meeting with legislative leaders afterward and crafting a compromise bill.
Jetton wanted the special session held in August so the House could attempt an override of the governor’s veto of the economic development bill approved during the regular session should a compromise fall through. Jetton says the work of the special session paves the way for a quiet Veto Session in mid-September.