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House adopts rule changes amid security talks

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House voted to approve new rules for the 101st General Assembly after nearly a dozen amendments died on the floor Tuesday. 

The resolution, sponsored by Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher, altered several House rules for the next two years, including those on virtual testimony and committee sizes. It was approved 105-40. 

One major provision included in the resolution gives the House sergeant-at-arms the same authority of a police officer, allowing him full leave “to oversee the security of the areas within the Capitol under the control of the House of Representatives.” It also gives him the ability to apprehend and arrest individuals who violate House Chamber rules and allows him to carry a firearm. 

Security was a topic of discussion on the floor, though no amendment was offered on it. Reps. Keri Ingle and Ron Hicks discussed safety issues in response to the events on Capitol Hill last week, with Ingle noting it would be an ongoing discussion as session continues. 

“While we’re under an increased threat right now, I don’t see the discussion ceasing in the near future,” Ingle said. “There are holes within our system that need addressing.”

Rep. Keri Ingle discusses security on the House floor. (HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS)

Other provisions in Plocher’s recommendation included re-establishing the Committee on Emerging Issues — which was active during the 98th General Assembly — and addressed bills relating to general issues as determined by the Speaker, including gun laws and tax regulations.

Eleven amendments were proposed and voted down by the body, including one handled by GOP Rep. Shane Roden that would have established a fine for members of the body facing censure by the House Ethics Committee, collecting nearly $36,000 from a member’s pay unless they were to resign.

“Right now, when people violate our rules, the most they get is a hand-slap,” he said on the floor. “In continuing down this path, a slap on the hand should not be enough for intimidating or abusing their position and power — it’s wrong. I’m tired of the body facing the disgrace of seeing certain members break the rules in our House and nothing happens.”

Roden ultimately withdrew his amendment, saying it was a discussion that would be brought up again in the coming weeks. 

The amendment came after Republican leadership said it would be pursuing censure of Rep. Wiley Price last month after an Ethics Committee report on an alleged “inappropriate relationship” with an intern. The report also said Price threatened a staff member for disclosing the incident.

Other proposals included an amendment that would have established a 15-day threshold for bills to be referred to committees, and another that would have enforced COVID-19 precautions suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the lower chamber.

House members also sat through training conducted by the Capitol Police following adjournment.

The resolution passed through the Consent and House Procedures Committee Friday after a lengthy discussion on remote testimony and committee makeup. 

The Senate also enacted new rules last week, allowing for the electronic distribution of documents on the floor and altering committee sizes.