The Missouri Legislature has made it to the halfway point of its session and lawmakers have only passed one bill so far. Senate Republicans have been squabbling throughout the session – triggering the further right-leaning Republicans to block the passage of bills.
During a news conference today, Missourinet asked Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, what grade he would give the upper chamber for the work it has completed so far.
“I’ll give myself a C,” he said. “We’ve got work to do.”
As a chamber, he said he might give it the same grade.
“Yeah, maybe we’re there. We, I think salvaged a little bit here at the end. The greatest part about this thing is that the success of this chamber doesn’t entirely or even, I think, partly hinge on just Dave and I, right. Or just Senator Rizzo or whoever else. This is us,” he said. “This is everybody, right. And so, the Senate only exists and only functions well if 34 people recognize that we are a part of something much, much bigger than us. If I care less about what I’m going to do next, if I care less about, you know, making the loudest noise at the loudest moment, for whatever motivation, which I never try to judge motivations. If we can come to grips with that and understand the importance of the moment that we’re in, especially now 20 plus years of Republican control, a Republican governor, I’ve said this every year that we’ve come here a generational opportunity that we should not take for granted because at some point the Democrats are going to be in charge again.”
He pointed out what he thinks would move them closer to that scenario.
“There’s the fact that on certain days when they look at the Missouri Senate, and they see a bunch of Republicans that don’t know how to talk to each other in a civil manner, well, maybe it might be time to change, right. And so, I think we, as Republicans, have to remember that,” Rowden said. “We have to be mindful of that and that’s an indictment of all of us. We all have work to do. We can do better, we should do better. And again, if we can’t do it, then shame on us.”
Senate Democratic Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, said he would give the Senate an incomplete grade.
“It’s always a situation, as I said last year, like playing against Michael Jordan in the fourth quarter. So you can have three-and-a-half great quarters, but it really matters that last few weeks. I would give the Democrats an A+. I mean, we’re still working together. I’d imagine if we went to dinner, we could all sit at the same table,” he said.
Rizzo followed up with a shoutout to the upper chamber’s 11 female Senators.
“I would also give really, truly on a serious note, I would give a super extra credit to the women of the Senate who have clearly been the level heads in the chamber this session and done a great job with building coalitions across the aisle and coming up with legislation that is effective for everyone in the state, not Democrats or Republicans, but just taxpayers in Missouri. The women have done a fantastic job,” said Rizzo.
State Senator Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, said he would also give the Missouri Senate an incomplete grade. He’s a member of the Senate Conservative Caucus, which has been stalling work this session.
“I think that those of us in the Conservative Caucus are committed to doing what, in my case, 200,000 citizens would like us to do. And I think those items include ensuring election integrity, putting parents and students first in education in part by banning critical race theory, by keeping obscene materials away from our public school students, by protecting women’s sports, by ending taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, which most assuredly our recently passed budget did not do. And of course, fulfilling our constitutional responsibility of drawing a congressional map, which is not facilitated when one side tries to force a really awful 5-3 what I’ve called a Pelosi map down our throat. And then finally, by exercising fiscal responsibility with the tax dollars entrusted to us by the people of this state,” said Onder.
He said the bad news is there is a lot of unfinished business.
“The good news is that many of our members, and we’ve been reaching out to a lot of our colleagues outside the conservative caucus, they say they want to do all these things I just outlined. So I’m hopeful in the second half of the session we can work together and get those things done,” he said.
The Senate did pass a few bills today, including one that aims to boost literacy skills among K-12 students and another that would increase the funding for the Kansas City Police Department.
The Legislature does not work the rest of this week and is on Spring Break next week.
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