Senate decides against confirming UM Curators again

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Before the legislative spring break, Republican senators made a stand against Gov. Eric Greitens by declining to confirm some of his gubernatorial appointments.

Events Thursday showed little had changed in the two weeks since the Senate last passed on those confirmations. Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard requested his report on the Senate Gubernatorial Committee be sent back, preventing any debate on the confirmation of Greitens’ picks on the University of Missouri System’s Board of Curators and some other positions.

At a press conference after session Thursday, Richard did not expand on the caucus’ decision to hold up the appointees.

“The Republican caucus wants to visit with the governor on a couple of issues,” he said bluntly, adding that Majority Caucus Chair Dan Hegeman had set up a meeting with Greitens next week.

Richard did not expand on specifically what “issues” the caucus wanted to speak about with the governor, but sources told The Missouri Times last week that Greitens’ executive order granting paid family leave for some executive branch employees rubbed some GOP senators the wrong way. Some believed it served as a unilateral action on an issue which should be taken up by the Legislature, or at least in collaboration with the General Assembly, while others feel in a year of tight budgets, the approximate annual cost of $1.1 million to pay for the leave policy could be better spent.

Greitens’ office did not respond to requests for comment.

Senate Democrats meanwhile are on the outside looking in for the situation. Minority Floor Leader Gina Walsh said she would allow the majority caucus to sort out their own issues.

“I usually do defer to them unless there’s something really glaring about that candidate,” she said. “What their issues are with their governor’s appointees, I do not know. That’s their deal.”

She added if she was governor, she would hope her allies in the Senate would give her the chance “to surround myself with people I think are capable and would do a good job for me.”

However, Sen. Doug Libla, a member of the Gubernatorial Appointments Committee, said he had nothing negative to say about any of the appointees for the MU Board of Curators, saying they were good selections. The hearing for attorney Darryl Chatman, businesswoman Jamie Farmer, and Morgan Stanley wealth advisor Jeff Layman was generally good-natured and complimentary, with senators asking what the three candidates would do to fix some of the problems the university system has either endured or brought upon itself in recent years.

The continued show of strength by the Senate indicates the relationship between Greitens and the Senate may remain strained to an extent. Early in the session, Greitens received flak from multiple senators for his aggressive vote whipping on a bill to deny legislative pay raises, and he frequently referred to politicians in Jefferson City, the vast majority of whom are Republicans, as corrupt.

A new date to vote on the appointments was not immediately decided upon.

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