The end of the Missouri legislative session less than a month away and lawmakers say Governor Eric Greitens’ ongoing legal battles are distracting them from passing bills.
Confusion and uncertainty are some of the words that are being used to describe what it’s like to be in the legislative chamber.
Despite all the commotion, lawmakers are pressing ahead to pass a budget.
“There’s a lot of emotions and I’ve heard a lot of folks who’ve referred to it as a dark cloud over the building right now,” says Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield.
Governor Eric Greitens is now charged with two felonies. The most recent one involves a donor list from his former charity that he’s alleged to have improperly acquired for campaign purposes. It’s being investigated by lawmakers.
“My understanding is that the special investigative committee at any point could move forward with articles of impeachment and they would create those articles and then send them to the house,” says Quade.
“A lot of people are mistaken and think that impeachment means the person is removed from office and that’s just not the case. Impeachment is basically being charged. If the house moves forward and says they believe there is enough evidence for a trial, that’s impeachment. It is a higher standard than what it is brought in criminal court. In other words, there is a higher expectancy of conduct and so, therefore, it’s a lower threshold of being charged,” says Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield.
Determining the governor’s future along with working on behalf of Missourians is something that Rep. Quade says has diverted them from getting things done.
“This past week we worked on in the house a large tax overhaul bill and at one point in time there were only 47 members in the chamber out of 163 seats and you know it may not have all been because of that, I can’t say that to be true, but we are distracted. Nobody’s knowing what’s going to happen next and so when it comes to focusing on the people’s business, actually working on legislation, it has been very distracting,” says Quade.
However, Sen. Dixon believes more is being accomplished this year than last year.
“That is because the governor has been busy either defending himself or kind of spinning their tale of the goings on and so he has not had the opportunity to inject himself into the legislative process and quite frankly sow dissension among the ranks of the legislature,” says Dixon.
The legislative session ends May 18th, four days after the start of Governor Greitens’ trial for felony invasion of privacy.
Lawmakers say regardless if he’s found not guilty of that charge, he could still face impeachment because he’s held to a higher standard.
Reported by KOLR-TV’s Brea Douglas