An economic development bill, said to be the main issue lawmakers face this session, stalled once again in the Senate, its fate now uncertain entering this last day of the session.
The plan called for Senators to return at 8 pm following a dinner break and to take up the economic development bill – provided a deal had been reached. 8 o’clock came and went, and the clock kept ticking. The Senate finally came back into session at 12:36 to take care of business and to bring up a Senate version of HB 191 – the huge economic development bill.
Senator Brad Lager (R-Savannah) told the chamber a cap of $140-million for historic preservation tax credits would be in place, with exceptions for smaller projects. And a new implementation date for this legislation would be January 1st, 2010, rather than August 28th of this year, which is the usual effective date for legislation. But it became obvious this was still a work in progress.
Senators Jeff Smith (D-St. Louis) and Wes Shoemyer (D-Clarence) took the opportunity to stand and talk about their likes and dislikes of certain tax credits. Both rejected suggestions they sit down and allow the proceedings to move forward.
An amendment from Senator Jason Crowell (R-Cape Girardeau) was put forward and passed, despite warnings that a clean bill is needed and that amendments could sink the bill. Later, as filibustering continued, Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), who had voted in favor of the amendment, asked that the vote be reconsidered. Enough Senators agreed to have the vote reconsidered and a re-vote was called for the amendment which had passed earlier. At this stage Senator Crowell refused to close on his amendment, tossing the chamber into confusion. About a half hour later the Senate was called back into order and the bill was laid over.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Kevin Engler (R-Farmington) plans to bring the bill back in the morning after Senators have had a chance to get some sleep. He’s hoping the desire to get a bill passed will win the day at that time. He realizes getting the bill passed will not be easy.
"I think there’s some chance but it’s not great," said Engler. "When you have people on both sides of an issue it’s difficult to get it done and we’ve tried, and it’s a very delicate balance, and we’re trying to walk on a razor blade right now and maybe we can get her done but it’s not going to be an easy process."
This bill and all others must be passed by both chambers by 6 o’clock this evening or they die.