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Eigel proposes allowing senators to refer their own bills to committees

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — It’s been a week of proposed rule changes in the Senate

This time, Sen. Bill Eigel filed a resolution Tuesday that would allow senators to be able to have two of their bills each regular session referred to a standing committee of his or her choice. 

SR 448, which amends Rule 50, came after multiple conservative senators complained about which committees certain bills had been assigned to already this year. Bills are referred to committees by the Senate president pro tem. 

Eigel said he capped the limit at two so as not to ensue “total chaos.” He said the measure would give senators “a little bit of control over where their high-priority bills would go.” 

“A reasonable way to empower the senators is to allow them to have a voice in the movement in some of their biggest pieces of legislation,” Eigel said on the floor. 

He echoed comments made by Senate Minority Floor Leader John Rizzo who successfully changed the threshold to move a previous question (PQ) motion earlier this week. Both proposed their rule changes by billing them as an “olive branch” as tensions flare among different factions in the upper chamber. 

Prior to Eigel introducing the resolution, Sens. Bob Onder and Mike Moon, also members of the Conservative Caucus, complained during a floor inquiry about where certain bills had been referred. 

Specifically, conservative members are upset legislation dealing with the funding of abortion providers and affiliates — one from Onder and one from Eigel — were sent to Seniors, Families, & Military Affairs instead of Onder’s health committee. The senators also thought that committee should hear a series of bills related to COVID-19 vaccine mandates which were instead sent to Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy, and the Environment, according to Onder. 

The Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy, and the Environment Committee is chaired by Republican Sen. Mike Cierpiot. The Seniors, Families, & Military Affairs Committee is led by GOP Sen. Bill White. 

The beginning of session has been marred by infighting among the Republican caucus as accusations of dishonesty loudly fly around the Capitol. 

The latest source of tension was the PQ rule change. Rizzo brought his own resolution to the floor Monday, and Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz was ready with what he called a compromise substitute. It included Rizzo’s raise of the number of senators needed to move a PQ motion but kept the number of senators needed for the motion to be sustained at a majority. 

Although Republican leadership had not brought Rizzo’s resolution to the floor, conservatives were incensed that Schatz’s proposal wasn’t brought up in a caucus meeting earlier that day. 

Last week, conservatives held the Senate floor to accuse Republican leadership of dishonesty, decrying a meeting held before the new year that did not include the full caucus.