With the Missouri legislature engaged in a second special session and Governor Greitens indicating there could be more coming, lawmakers are expressing frustration with the grinding process.
Senators and Representatives elected to spend roughly four months conducting the public’s business in Jefferson City don’t know when, or even if, they’ll stop returning to the Capitol to address more legislation.
Greitens told Missourinet in late May that he was considering additional sessions this year to get some of his priorities passed. He also said the state constitution only allows him to call one issue per special session, an interpretation that’s been roundly disputed by Democratic lawmakers.
The exact wording in the state constitution says “On extraordinary occasions he may convene the general assembly by proclamation, wherein he shall state specifically each matter on which action is deemed necessary”.
There’s also been criticism over what qualifies as an “extraordinary occasion”. Senator Ryan Silvey, a Republican as is Greitens, says he and the governor have vastly different interpretations of what extraordinary is. “If he calls us back again, unless it’s for some emergency, disaster, something extraordinary, I probably will not be supportive of that special session either” said Silvey.
Members of Missouri’s citizen legislature started showing signs of strain over the unpredictable schedule during the first special session. At the time, House Republican Rocky Miller of Osage Beach expressed frustration over being pulled away from his job.
“This is a part-time job” Miller said. “I do run an engineering company, so anytime they’ve got me up here working on this, I’m not working for my family or producing in my home town. And it makes it hard on us.” Miller also acknowledged he knew special sessions were possible when he took the job as a lawmaker.
During the run up to his first call for extra legislating, Greitens accused the General Assembly of under-performing. “Some career politicians failed to do their jobs and then went home” Greitens said. “That’s wrong. We’re cancelling their summer vacations and calling a special session to get this done.”
Blatant displeasure with the governor’s words and actions has has been on display over the past week.
Democratic Senator Jason Holsman of Kansas City filed a resolution Monday for what a release referred to as “legislation allowing voters to choose a full-time legislature after the current full-time Governor struggles with governing.” The release said the measure was a response to Governor Greitens “multiple unextraordinary session calls and media statements indicating additional calls throughout the year”.
House member Mike Moon, a conservative Republican from Ash Grove, released a video Monday that many viewers found disturbing. In it, he cuts off the head of a chicken while noting he was working his summer job when he was called back to Jefferson City. Moon is a farmer by trade.
During the Senate’s special session hearing Tuesday, Democrat Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City capsulized the frustration felt by member of the part-time legislature over scheduling. She asked her Republican colleagues to give her more notice of when more special sessions would take place.
“Is there going to be one every single month, a week before Christmas, the day after Thanksgiving” said Chappelle-Nadal. “I just want to prepare. I think everybody should prepare if we’re going one, or two every single month.”
Standing by their guns, Governor Greitens office responded to criticism from lawmakers over the extra time at the Capitol.
“They’re angry that the Governor is shaking up Jefferson City and won’t accept their excuses for failure any longer” Greitens’ spokesperson Parker Briden said in a statement. “Temper tantrums from career politicians don’t bother us. It’s just more evidence that Governor Greitens is an outsider who is doing what he said he would do: taking on politicians in both parties to get results.”