Legislative leaders seem open to a special session, but its success is dependent on agreement that couldn’t be reached at the end of the regular session.

House Speaker Ron Richard, a Republican from Joplin, says the House is anxious to approve the Missouri Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act.

“If it was just the economic development (bill), I think Democrats, Republicans would pass that like they did before,” Richard tells the Missourinet, “but I’m just not sure about the retirement package and I’m just trying to get up to speed on it.”

The key to this discussion is the pension reform bill. An attempt to coordinate passage of the jobs bill in the Senate with the pension bill in the House failed on the last day of the session. Too many House members felt uneasy about taking up SB 714 in the closing hours of the session. It never came to the floor for a vote. As the House hesitated, the Senate waited. Senators wanted assurance from the House that the pension bill would be approved before acting on the jobs bill, originally filed as HB 1675. Time ran out on the regular session without either bill passing.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Kevin Engler, a Republican from Farmington, expects the Senate to approve the jobs bill in a special session if the House accepts the pension bill.

“I believe we have a couple of people that have concerns that we will have to wait out, but I think we can get the deal done if they accept the pension reform,” Engler tells the Missourinet.

Speaker Richard has key House members reviewing the pension reform measure.

“I think it’s in the best interest of Missouri that the House keeps a dialogue with the governor and the Senate and we try to get this worked out,” according to Richard. “I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Engler says the two bills are linked.

“Unless we get public assurance from the governor that he wouldn’t sign the bills without both of them passing, we wouldn’t do it,” Engler says.

The governor says the matter is urgent, because Ford is making a decision on what to do with a production line that is ending at its Kansas City Claycomo plant.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1:10 MP3]