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Keaveny reflects on tumultuous 2015 session

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Minority Floor Leader Joe Keaveny (D – St. Louis) released his 2015 Legislative Report last week to summarize highs and lows of the 2015 session from the Democratic point of view.

Sen. Joseph Keaveny
Sen. Joseph Keaveny

Keaveny emphasized in the report that a large portion of the Senate Dems’ victories came by stifling the Republican supermajority’s ability to pass certain legislation, for instance, Keaveny and his colleagues managed to stop a bill that would require voters to have a photo ID, a measure which Democrats have argued disenfranchises minorities from voting.

“We stopped a lot of what we feel were bad bills,” Keaveny said. “Only about 113 bills passed, that’s probably half of what normally passes. I think there’s a lot of stuff in there that didn’t pass that…we didn’t want it to get into law, and sure enough it didn’t.”

For all of the bills where the Republicans overpowered Democrats, like the Right to Work bill and unemployment benefit cuts, Keaveny and company had to rely on Gov. Nixon for vetoes.

“In this instance especially, the Governor’s help was extremely effective,” he said. “It was a big plus for us.”

Those vetoes essentially assured for now that those pieces of legislation in their current form would not make it into law, considering the Republican Party would not have enough votes to override vetoes on those two pieces of legislation.

Keaveny noted that the large Republican Caucus had enough diversity that with some Republican allies, Democrats could halt Republican action on certain pieces of legislation.

“Quite frankly, with the supermajority that the Republicans have, they are so large, they have almost like separate factions within their own caucus. So, there are several issues that Democrats and some of the Republicans can come together on,” he said.

Obviously however, the two sides did not see eye to eye on everything. The Republicans’ movement to previous question on the Right to Work bill also irked many Democrats who believed it reflected poorly upon the decorum of the Senate.

“We’re going to have to work our way through that,” Keaveny said. “I am meeting with Rep. [Todd] Richardson next week to see how we are going to move forward. I’ve got some in my pockets that want to move on and some that want to have it affect next session.