With veto session behind us, The Missouri Times wanted to do something new. The motivation behind doing this was to acknowledge the work — both on and off the floor — of Missouri’s senators and representatives. In doing so, leadership has been excluded. Why? To level the playing field and point out the work of those who are not in the spot light as frequently as leadership was covered consistently during session.
Senator Eric Schmitt – He began the session by passing an amateur sports incentive and before session could end speculation was rampant that the incentive package has already lured the SEC men’s basketball tournament to St. Louis.
Schmitt also passed landmark legislation that prohibited insurance companies from overcharging for physical therapy thus creating parity with physician copays to help bring down the cost of healthcare and encouraging better health outcomes. Further, and aftermuch debate he was able to move a tax credit reform bill through the senate.
He was also a leader in passing the historic broad based tax relief measure in the senate and was successful in helping defeat other measures that would have raised taxes on consumers and increased costs for Missouri businesses.
He leaves the first session of his second term as the legislator best poised to win a statewide election.
The most emotional day in the Senate was the final day of session when Senator Justus successfully attached her amendment banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation onto HB 320 by a vote of 19-11.
She is also the minority leader of the Democrats and was actively involved with many other issues, but her work of fighting discrimination is a capstone achievement not only for her, but for the movement for equality.
Senator Rupp proved his credentials as a senator who can handle the most challenging issues in state government with the passage of SB1. The second injury fund has been a growing problem for the state since Governor Nixon was Attorney General. Rupp spent hours working with Democratic members and the final passage had senators hugging each other on the floor.
He also moved the New Markets Tax Credit bill through the Senate and was deeply involved with several of the session’s most contentious debates.
Senator Romine’s first year in the Senate saw him involved in almost every major issue. Though those issues were not ones that lived in the headlines, they were still tough, technical issues that required a depth of knowledge not typically found in Senate freshmen.
First, he was deeply involved with defeating the ISRS legislation and was a leader in the Senate, fighting to not only pass a bill that could incentivize the Doe Run plant in his district to reinvest in its site, but also spearheaded the effort in the Senate to override the Governor’s veto of the legislation. Now, he is chairing the Senate Interim Committee studying Medicaid. During veto session, he cast a critical vote that defeated the “paycheck protection” anti-union legislation. He has four years of a portfolio in one.
Many senators pick up an issue and specialize in it, but few in the term limits era have mastered their issue area like Senator Pearce has with education issues.
The Chairman of the Education Committee has been successful in holding the line on measures that are generally opposed by educators, and has not only been a voice for protecting education funding, but has seen that funding increase. Whether you are a supporter of the education establishment or an education reformer, he is a force on education issues.
Senator Lamping is an unapologetic conservative, and set out to defeat a few select pieces of legislation, and he did. He stated publicly that he did not believe that more laws or taxes meant better government and he wasn’t afraid to step on some toes in the Senate to advocate his positions.
He was a key senator who filibustered the transportation tax the final week of session and many look for him to be a key advocate for cutting taxes in 2014.
Senator Kraus had one of the busiest sessions of anyone in the legislature. He was a driving force behind the tax cut bill in the Senate and was able to move the bill by building relationships with Democratic senators. He also moved a TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) bill restricting the used of EBT cards at casinos. He was also deeply involved with the passage of five bills impacting veterans and active service members — most notably the legislation that will make it easier for service members serving overseas to vote.
However, the most ink was spilled over his discovery of that the Department of Revenue was scanning Missourians documents in order to obtain Right to Carry permits.
No senator was forced to drink from a fire hydrant right out of the gate like Sen. Libla. The day he was elected, his district’s largest employer was in jeopardy from ISRS legislation and he had to learn on the job how to build a coalition to stop the legislation.
Ultimately, he was successful in building a coalition of opposition and defeating the bill. Who knows what is next on utility issues or what issue Senator Libla will focus on in 2014, but his energy and obvious talent for coalition building make him not only someone whose work deserves recognition in 2013, but also a senator to watch going forward.
Senator Nasheed had a big 2013. Early in her freshman term in the Senate, she played a leading role in working to see Mayor Slay re-elected in St. Louis. Her role as lead critic of his opponent garnered her a great deal of respect amongst the St. Louis political class.
In the Senate, she was able to get a piece of education reform through the body and passed by the House. While the legislation may have had to be weakened in order to pass the House, the issues surrounding the transfer of students in unaccredited school districts have vaulted education reform back to the top of many senators’ legislative agendas and Sen. Nasheed may be well placed to play a key role in those discussions.
This isn’t a congeniality contest and neither is being a Senator. Whatever your thoughts are on Senator Schaaf, he has established himself as a force in the
Senate. When strategists are setting out how they will proceed on a bill, one of the most frequently asked questions in the Capitol is: “Where is Schaaf on this?” That is impact.
Rep. Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff
No one set himself apart with his work on legislation like Rep. Richardson. When the House needed someone who could understand the Second Injury Fund legislation, they turned to him. When the Doe Run legislation needed a field general to pass the bill and override, the Governor of the caucus turned to him. He is set to become Floor Leader during the next General Assembly and is likely already the most influential caucus member not in leadership.
Rep. Caleb Jones, R-California
If there was one piece of legislation that was brought back from the dead through a concerted one-on-one effort, it was the Liquor Bill carried by Rep. Jones. He was involved with many pieces of legislation as he was the Chairman of the General Laws Committee and played a key role in most every large issue the House passed.
Rep. Noel Torpey, R-Independence
Representative Torpey is excellent at building relationships and effectively used those relationships to further common sense economic development bills. He was also credited with having a major influence in passing the measure providing political freedom for firefighters in the state.
Rep. Robert Ross, R-Yukon
The freshman legislator’s session was capped by his successful handling of the Doe Run bill in the House during the veto session, but he also set himself apart as one of the most capable freshmen on the Budget Committee, especially relating to issues dealing with the Department of Natural Resources.
Rep Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage
He was a very capable Vice-Chair of the Budget Committee that produced a relatively amicable budget. He was so deeply involved with the process that when Chairman Stream lost his mother, he stepped in and carried the budget bills on the floor.
Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia
Representative Kelly has more institutional knowledge than any other legislator and most entire committees. As he once said to The Missouri Times, he is cantankerous but he is also one of the few Democratic members who is not afraid to take on the Governor on an issue if need be.
Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield
It seems like when the Republican caucus looked for someone to carry a big bill, they went in search of Rep. Burlison. He sat for hours defending his Right to Work legislation in committee and handled several professional registration bills.
He is one of the biggest brains in his caucus and is proving adept at moving legislation.
Rep. Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield
Representative Haahr was deeply involved in the floor debate and offered the only successful floor amendment to the piece, and was in the middle of the Second Injury Fund reform compromise alongside Rep. Richardson. He also served on more committees than any other legislator.
Rep. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield
His tough exterior can sometimes mask one of the more skilled legislators in the body. He is very accomplished regarding budget issues and this session, worked on the fixing the use tax on cars purchased out of state and provided a key fix for municipal utility companies. He was also responsible for stepping up and voting not to override some of the more extreme social measures during veto session.
Rep. John Rizzo, D-Kansas City
He works extremely well with Senate colleagues and has a proven his ability to get Republicans to compromise in order to obtain support. He is one of the most skilled legislators in the Democratic caucus at representing his constituent’s interests, as well as those of the entire caucus.
Rep. Jay Barnes
Representative Barnes may not have won many of the high-profile fights from tort reform, to Doe Run, to Medicaid expansion, but he fought intelligent and excellently-debated fights. In doing so, he won respect and many admirers. Some even believe his work with Medicaid expansion could lay the groundwork for success during coming sessions.
Rep Mike Cierpiot, D-Lee’s Summit
Representative Cierpiot emerged as a key leader in the House who has an immense influence on the floor. He is a member of leadership who has real life experience and his advice is sought by members of both parties.
Most discussed bill of the year
Winner: Sen. Scott Rupp & Rep. Todd Richardson (R) — Second Injury Fund
Runner-up: Reps. TJ Berry (R) & Sen. Will Kraus (R) — Income tax bill
Most Effective Debater (Senate)
Winner: Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah
Runner-up: Sen. Ed Emery, R-Vernon County
Best Floor Debate
Winner: Sens. Eric Schmitt (R) & Kurt Schaefer (R) — Liquor Legislation
Runner-up: Reps. Caleb Jones (R) & Don Gosen (R) — Liquor Legislation
Freshmen: Reps. Robert Cornejo (R) & Jon Carpenter (D) — Tax Cuts
Best Floor Speech (House)
Winner: Rep. Steve Webb (D) on education reform
Runner-up: Rep. Jay Barnes (R) on patient’s rights in opposition to medical malpractice
Freshman: Rep. Jeremy LaFaver (D) on children
Best Floor Speech (Senate)
Winner: Sen. Eric Schmitt (R) on why tax cuts and small government are good for the state
Runner-up: Sen. Jason Holsman (D) on renewable energy
Most effective debater (House)
Winner: Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington
Runner-up: Rep. Vicki Englund, D- St. Louis
Freshman: Rep. Robert Cornejo, R-St. Charles
Taking Bull By the Horns on Tough Issues
Winner: Sen. Mike Kehoe (R) transportation funding
Runner Up: Rep. Kevin Elmer (R) education reform
Freshman: Rep. Caleb Rowden (R) on Medicaid expansion
Surprise of the Year
Winner: Sen. Ryan Silvey (R) filibustering the budget
Runner-up: Sen. Wayne Wallingford (R) on “paycheck protection”
Freshman: Rep. Nate Walker (R) opposing HB 253
Conflict of the Year
Winner: Reps. Robert Cornejo (R) & Jake Hummel (D)
Runner Up: Sens. Kurt Schaefer (R) & Rob Schaaf (R) on medical malpractice caps
Freshmen: Reps. Caleb Rowden (R) & Jeremy LaFaver (D) on the budget
Best signature statement on the house floor
Winner: Rep. Caleb Jones (R) – “This bill is about freedom.”
Runner-up: Rep. Jill Schupp (D) – “Voice of the children”
Freshman: Rep. Shawn Rhoads (R) – “Howelllllllll”
Best in the Dias in the House (who isn’t Speaker)
Winner: Rep. Shelley Keeney, R-Marble Hill
Runner Up: Rep. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield
Freshman: Rep. Ron Hicks, R-St. Charles
Best in the Dias in the Senate (who isn’t Pro Tem)
Winner: Sen. Will Kraus, R-Kansas City
Runner Up: Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Cole County
Rep. Most Likely to be a Senator (Republican)
Winner: Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-Bethany
Runner Up: Rep. Jeannie Riddle, R-Fulton
Freshman: Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob
Rep. Most Likely to be a Senator (Democrat)
Winner: Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart
Runner-up: Rep. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur
Freshman: Rep. Josh Peters, D- St. Louis
Scott Faughn is the publisher of The Missouri Times, owner of the Clayton Times in Clayton, Mo; SEMO Times in Poplar Bluff, Mo.; and host of the only statewide political television show, This Week in Missouri Politics.