When asked to name a highlight of the legislative session, the Speaker of the House didn’t mention a piece of legislation. Instead, House Speaker Steven Tilley, a Republican from Perryville, referred to the conduct in the House during the legislative session.
“I started this session wanting to change the tenor and the tone of how things are done in Jeff City,” Tilley told reporters. “And, I think it is pretty clear that we’ve done that.”
Now, that’s easy for the head of the majority in the House to say. But it’s backed up by the House Minority Leader, Mike Talboy, a Democrat from Kansas City.
“You saw a, with the exception of maybe just a couple of times it even getting really, really chippy, I think things went really very smoothly and I think that the body’s better off for it,” Talboy stated, “because I think when you actually have substantive debate and people can listen and people can have input and have a back and forth and really vet out some of the issues, (I) think that is better for everybody.”
Not all was rosy during the session. Tension built into real friction during debate on congressional redistricting. Republican leaders in the House secured four votes from Democrats necessary to approve an override of Gov. Nixon’s veto. Though abortion votes in the Missouri House don’t break cleanly along party lines, Democrats who opposed a bill prohibiting late-term abortions became upset when Republicans insisted on passing the House version of the bill only hours after approving the Senate version. Democrats also kept a running count of the Republicans’ liberal use of the Previous Question, a parliamentary maneuver to cut off debate and force a vote.
Still, Talboy praised House Republican leaders for how they conducted the session. He especially praised how the budget process worked. House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan Silvey, a Republican from Kansas City, allowed Democrats to shape budget bills in committee, leading to bi-partisan budget votes on the House floor.
A reporter suggested to Talboy that Republicans got along better with Democrats in the House than they did with fellow Republicans in the Senate. Talboy chuckled at first, then offered an observation.
“Right now, I can say this is probably the worst I’ve seen the House and Senate Republicans get along,” Talboy answered. “And I don’t know if that’s just personalities, I don’t know if it’s ideology. It’s, I think, really hurting the people in the state.”
Talboy added that Democrats and Republicans will still disagree on public policy, which he says became apparent during debate in the final weeks of the session.