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Jones expands legislative slots for members

   

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Just days before the beginning of the 2014 legislative session, House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, made changes to caucus policies related to individual member legislative priorities.

In an email sent to every House Republican acquired by The Missouri Times, Jones promises two significant changes. First, Jones’ email says that all bills will automatically be referred to committee within 10 legislative days of its second reading.TJ

Second, Jones’ says he will guarantee one “slot” for each Republican lawmaker, meaning that every caucus member will have one bill guaranteed to go to the floor for debate and vote — pending approval by its committee. Caucus members have until the end of February to take advantage of their guaranteed floor time. In previous years, each House committee had 3 guaranteed slots, and committee chairmen typically decided what bills that made it through their committee would get a promised slot.

“What we are doing is empowering members to pursue their legislative priorities and encouraging and empowering committee chairs to focus on caucus priorities and not feel pressured to create unwieldy omnibus bills,” Tim Jones said.

Now all members, including chairmen, will have a single slot to present a legislative priority. Caleb Jones, R-California, says the new system is “the best thing for the caucus.”

“I think it’s really important to engage all members and allow them to bring at least one priority to the floor and work on their agenda,” Caleb Jones said. “I think it’s a great change.”

Some lawmakers attributed the new policy to the Speaker’s race last summer between Caleb Jones and John Diehl, R-Town and County. During the race Caleb Jones frequently argued for greater engagement with all caucus members and a decentralizing of the leadership decision-making.

“I don’t necessarily attribute this to me,” Caleb Jones said. “I see it as a move to get our members more involved and allow them more leeway to work on their issues. If I helped that at all then great, but what’s important is that we are doing it.”