Governor Nixon could call a special legislative session if legislative leaders can reach agreement on a bill that died the last day of the regular session.
Nixon is cautious about calling the legislature to return to Jefferson City.
“I wouldn’t want to bring the legislature back into session unless we had broad, bi-partisan consensus to do so,” Nixon told members of the Capitol Press Corps prior to leaving his office for appearances in Columbia and North Kansas City.
When we last left the legislature, it failed to approve the Missouri Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act (HB 1675). A last minute attempt to coordinate approval of the jobs bill in the Senate and a state worker pension reform bill in the House unraveled as House members hesitated on taking up such major legislation with barely an hour to go in the session. The House had approved the jobs bill earlier, but it stalled in the Senate as senators again expressed concern over the state’s economic development policies. A fragile agreement to pay for the incentives through pension reform couldn’t withstand the pressure that comes with the closing hours of a regular session.
Nixon hopes that lawmakers have had time to reconsider the issue and that a special legislative session could provide a fresh start. Nixon officials say the governor held a 45 minute conference call with legislative leaders on Friday. Nixon says the discussion encouraged him. The governor says he won’t call a special session unless broad consensus can be reached on the two issues which now have become intertwined.
“A special session would need to be crisp, focused and productive and we wouldn’t want to waste time on superfluous topics or political posturing,” Nixon told reporters. “We’ll be narrow on what we would do.”
A key to getting consensus is Nixon’s ability to sell his pitch that major manufacturers benefit more than major metropolitan areas.
“Major manufacturing touches many communities across the state. If you lose a Claycomo institution, there are ripple effects that cover the entire state,” according to Nixon.
To emphasize the point, Nixon traveled to Columbia for a news conference at the Dana Automotive Systems Group factory there. That plant employs about 140 workers who manufacture axles for Ford. The Nixon Administration points out that other supplies across the state produce seats, wheels and other automotive components in communities such as Dexter, Farmington, Nixa, Hannibal, Joplin, Perryville and Sedalia.
Still, the urgency centers on the Ford Claycomo plant in Kansas City. It employs 3,700 workers. The Claycomo plant mainly makes pick-ups; the best-selling Ford F-150 has rolled off the assembly line at Claycomo for years. It also has a line that produces the Ford Escape. Ford plans to end production of that line and hasn’t decided whether build its replacement in Kansas City or elsewhere. It is thought that Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky are offering incentives to Ford to lure production away from Claycomo.
Under the Missouri Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act, manufacturers and their suppliers that create or retain jobs in the state would be allowed to retain a portion of their income taxes. Incentives would be capped at $15 million annually.
Nixon is considering calling a special legislative session at the end of this mopnth. He says Ford is making its decision now and the legislature needs to act quickly if it is going to act at all.