Missouri Legislature adjourns after ‘personal, petty politics’ slowed key GOP priorities

Missouri Legislature adjourns after ‘personal, petty politics’ slowed key GOP priorities
Missouri Legislature adjourns after ‘personal, petty politics’ slowed key GOP priorities
Published: May. 12, 2023 at 10:01 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOV) - Republican infighting on the final days of the 2023 session stalled many of their key priorities before the session officially closed on Friday.

Friday morning, Senator Bill Eigel took up the session, upset that his bill to lower personal property taxes wouldn’t be debated or taken up for a vote.

“We have spent an entire session with few exceptions passing bills that will change the trajectory of this state,” said Eigel, a Republican, who is considering a run for governor.

Other local lawmakers weren’t pleased.

“I really wish that we can put personal, petty politics aside and focus on the real business of this state,” said State Sen. Tracy McCreery.

Sen. McCreery, a Democrat of St. Louis County, tells News 4 that while plenty didn’t get done, she was pleased with some smaller bills - citing helping new mothers with healthcare.

But there was plenty that didn’t happen, such as sports betting.

“Well, they made it very clear that unless the personal property tax bill happens that sports betting is not going to happen,” said McCreery.

But Republican lawmakers did accomplish one of their goals this week.

“Frankly, it’s dangerous to have a strong man competing in sports,” said Republican Rep. Jim Murphy, also of St. Louis County.

Rep. Murphy, also of St. Louis County, applauded the two transgender-related bills, requiring student-athletes to compete with the same gender assigned at birth and banning gender-affirming care for children.

It’s something Democrats believe will lead to stricter trans-related bills.

“We believe there’s going to be more attacks on this,” said Crystal Quade (D), Minority Floor Leader in the Missouri House.

But Murphy doesn’t buy it and said he’s had no discussion of banning medical care for adults down the road.

“We’re really doing it for the children,” said Murphy.

Republicans also were unable to pass reforms to the petition initiative process. A house bill would have required a 57 percent threshold to get future petitions into the state constitution.

St. Louis City State Senator Steve Roberts said on bills like initiative petition reform and others, Democrats can take credit for stopping or making them less strict.

“The dysfunction within the Republican Party, you got some folks that are just so far out there, they’re not willing to compromise, and that really played to our benefit,” said Roberts.

And other bills that include ‘red flag’ laws and banning children from carrying weapons did not get close to passing, something many St. Louis lawmakers wanted to see.

“Gun violence affects every part of the state of Missouri. It’s not just a city or suburban problem,” said McCreery.

Another bill that did get out was a texting and driving ban, making it illegal, albeit a small infraction.

Rep. Roberts said he was initially skeptical as he worried about its impacts on African-Americans.

“I had a lot of concerns that this could be used as a potential stop.”

The bill makes that infraction a secondary offense, meaning you must get pulled over for another violation of the law, such as speeding, to also get a texting and driving ticket.

“I was shown data on how similar legislation has reduced accidents of texting and driving in other states, and I really hope it helps with that,” said Roberts.