The Missouri Senate started business almost an hour behind schedule Thursday morning after an unknown substance was delivered in an envelope to a senator’s office.
Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, announced on the floor that the substance had been delivered to her office, noting that suspicious packages had been delivered to her before. She said the substance came packaged in an envelope through the U.S. mail.
Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, indicated that Senate members and their staffers had been meeting prior to the chamber’s session with local law enforcement personnel and that there was a delay in gaveling in because of safety concerns.
He said Capitol Police didn’t believe the substance posed a threat to the public but noted the agency was taking extreme caution to ensure safety.
Richard and Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, issued a statement thanking first responders and law enforcement personnel for their quick response to the issue.
During the Senate floor session, Kehoe said the substance had been removed from the capitol by a hazmat team and that several Senate staff members that had been quarantined were being released.
The Senate Administration Committee held hold an emergency meeting upon adjournment of Thursday’s floor session to get a briefing on the status of an investigation into the incident.
Missouri Senate Administrator Patrick Baker said Capitol Police are investigating the case while the Cole County Hazmat team and Missouri National Guard are testing the envelope.
He said that although the substance hasn’t been identified, it has been seen. “There were particulates falling out of the envelope,” said Baker. “With the particulates being unknown, we contacted Capitol Police who then dispatched the Cole County Hazmat team.”
Baker said a determination had been made that the substance was not water soluble, which he called the best case scenario.
The Senate completed its end of the week Thursday session without incident, although two offices and a portion of the Senate Post Office remained close
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