State lawmakers have left Jefferson City for their annual spring break. The evaluation of the session so far depends, of course, on who you ask.
House Speaker Ron Richard, a Republican from Joplin, expresses complete satisfaction with the progress of the legislative session so far. The accomplishments of the session that Richard points to include approval of a bill designed to increase the number of manufacturing jobs in Missouri, a bill that would mandate insurance companies provide coverage for autism, rejection of the State Tax Commission proposal to increase taxes on the best Missouri farmland and lower it on the worst and a measure that would deny Temporary Assistance to Needy Families from those who test positive for drug use.
A dismal budget picture dominated talk when the session began. Recent revenue figures have only increased the gloom. Richard expects the budget to be the dominant issue the remainder of the session.
“Yes, because every month gets worse and the consensus revenue is getting off-tilt,” Richard says. “Missouri’s looking for leadership and looking for government that operates within its means.”
Less impressed with the progress of the legislative session is House Minority Leader, Rep. Paul LeVota (D-Independence).
“What they’ve (House Republicans) done so far is, a non-binding resolution to criticize Congress three different times without dealing with the issues we’re responsible for,” LeVota says.
LeVota says there should have been more time devoted to economic development. He expresses disappointment that an ethics bill has come to the House floor for debate, though a bill has been filed by the chairman of the special House committee assigned to ethics. LeVota adds that the House needs to devote more time to the sagging state budget.
The annual spring break began with the adjournment of the House and Senate Thursday afternoon. State legislators return to the Capitol on the 15th.