The Speaker of the state House says committees holding hearings at the Jefferson City Country Club is within the rules, but suggests those rules might soon change.
Two Missouri House committees are scheduled to hold hearings at the Country Club this week, one tonight and one tomorrow. The Kansas City Star’s editorial board and Senator Claire McCaskill (D) are among those who have criticized those hearings as chances for lobbyists to buy gifts for those committees’ members.
House Speaker John Diehl, Junior, (R-Town and Country) says those hearings don’t violate any rules, but hinted that changes could be coming that would impact them.
“Those are policies that we’re looking into. It’s early in session and I think you’ll see us addressing some of that,” Diehl said, “which we already did by getting rid of the issue development committees, which really weren’t committees.”
The issue development committees Diehl refers to were disbanded after he became Speaker. Critics said those committees were a cover to hide how meals for lawmakers were paid for by lobbyists.
Diehl didn’t criticize the scheduling of the two hearings at the Country Club this week, saying, “It’s always been done that way. I’m not saying it’s right or it’s wrong,” but said groups who are calling attention to them are misplacing their attention.
“It’s funny, though, that the critics want to talk about whether someone has a plate of pasta versus talking about how the federal government’s coal policies are destroying Missouri’s utilities and passing the bill on to Missouri consumers,” said Diehl.
Diehl says his Republican Majority caucus will discuss what additional changes to make to committee scheduling “over the next couple of months.”