House Speaker Ron Richard (R-Joplin) acknowledges he’s frustrated.
The top priority for Richard this legislative session, the economic development bill, is hung up in the Senate, as certain senators criticized the role of tax credits as a government incentive. The House approved HB 191 in early February. It hasn’t gone anywhere since.
That has left Richard contemplating other strategies to get the bill off dead-center. The strategy bubbling to the top at present is breaking the bill into pieces and sending a number of various bills back to the Senate, including as amendments to Senate bills the House approves.
Richard worries that Monsanto’s huge investment in St. Louis could be at risk if the Quality Jobs Program cap isn’t raised and a tax credit for research and development isn’t approved.
"If there is an expansion of Monsanto, I’m going to do everything I can for Missouri," Richard tells Capitol Press Corps reporters.
Rumors have been circulating the Capitol that Iowa is heavily recruiting Monsanto, trying to woo the huge agri-business firm from Missouri.
Richard says he doesn’t quite understand why the bill has been held up in Senate.
"I’ve been around a little bit and sometimes you just can’t force your will on people and have got to let them do what they are going to do. But I am somewhat disappointed," Richard says. "I’ve always had pretty good success at getting along with people. This is even a test for me."
Economic development is the top priority of the session for Richard and for Governor Nixon.
Richard says the two have talked strategy, including whether Nixon should become more involved in negotiations.
"The governor and I talked about that. He asked if he thought it would be helpful if he got a little more engaged," says Richard. "I said, ‘Well, governor if I thought losing your temper and my temper would do any good, I would suggest we both do it. But I’m not sure what we gain.’"
Richard says he hasn’t observed over the years that strong-arm tactics have worked.