State Senate Republicans have caucused and the filing of bills will begin December 1. The man who can decide what does and doesn’t reach the Senate floor in the 2016 session said he can’t rank legislative priorities, but Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City) told Missourinet there are some issues that stand out.
Voter photo ID will be proposed again.
“I believe Senator [Will Kraus] … will be working through voter ID. He’s been a champion of it before. He’s very passionate about it, and many people are,” said Kehoe. “We feel like if you’re going to vote for the most powerful man in the world, having proper identification is only reasonable.”
Because previous voter photo ID laws have been struck down as unconstitutional in Missouri, legislative Republicans have pursued a combination of a ballot initiative that would ask voters to change the Constitution to allow for voter photo ID, and a companion bill that would create the structure for voter photo ID if the ballot issue is passed.
Democrats argue the proposal is an attempt to disenfranchise voters who have a hard time securing the documents needed to get a photo ID, including many older African-Americans women.
Ethics reform is favored by Governor Jay Nixon as well as lawmaker in both parties and in both chambers. Kehoe says there will certainly be some bills on that subject.
“Although there’s many who believe you can’t legislate ethics – it’s got to be in somebody’s inner being to be ethical, obviously – there’s certainly some guidelines you can put forward for current and future elected officials to follow that seem reasonable to the general public,” said Kehoe.
That could include a discussion of campaign finance limits, which are generally opposed by Republicans who say they will lead to more donations being funneled through third parties to hide their true origins.
“I think it’s certainly something that people are open to a conversation on to try to figure out what’s right and reasonable,” said Kehoe of campaign finance limits, “but there’s also a side even in the Democratic caucus that feel like when you don’t have limits you have true transparency.”
Kehoe wants to see additional tort reforms passed as well.
“Last year you saw we had an expert witness bill that just says we would adopt the federal standard for witnesses to be considered an expert, like so many other states – I believe over 25 states have adopted that standard,” said Kehoe.
Kehoe said legislative leadership in both chambers will have to discuss whether a “right-to-work” bill will be proposed again in 2016.
“Certainly it’s important for the state,” said Kehoe, who noted that, “‘right-to-work’ came up for a vote and passed both chambers this year – first time ever it’s happened in the State of Missouri.”
The legislation, however, was vetoed by Governor Nixon and House Republicans fell thirteen votes short of the tally needed to override him. Some question, though not publicly, whether the contentious issue would be brought up again with so many legislative Republicans running for election unless supporters can show they can find the votes necessary to override a veto in 2016.