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Senate conservatives continue ‘defense’ filibuster against House bills, avoid PDMP

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — In what was described as a “defense of the Senate conversation,” conservative senators held court for several hours Tuesday, lambasting two House committees for blocking Senate legislation while simultaneously stalling on a bill from the lower chamber regarding a prescription drug monitoring program.

Those tuning into the Senate chambers Tuesday afternoon would have heard the recitation of a variety of Veterans Day speeches read by Sen. Denny Hoskins, a member of the Conservative Caucus. It was Hoskins’ second day of holding court on the floor, filibustering the reading of the journal for a few hours while decrying the House rules committees for not making conservative senators’ bills more of a priority.

State Sen. Denny Hoskins

Specifically, Hoskins lamented two conservative bills — his SB 283, removing a sunset on a higher education grant program for veterans; and SB 145 from Sen. Eric Burlison, the HAILEY’S Law bill that would reform the state’s Amber Alert System — that are being held in the two House rules committee. He accused the lower chamber of playing “political games.”

“I don’t play political games, particularly with veterans and veterans’ survivors,” Hoskins said. “I’m not here to play political games with … children’s lives. Unfortunately, a small few in the House are willing to do that.”

SB 283 has been in the House Rules – Administrative Oversight Committee since mid-April; SB 145 has been in the House Rules – Legislative Oversight Committee since late last month.

“If you’re a House member, and you thought your bill was going to come up tonight, the chances aren’t very good,” Hoskins said Monday night as he filibustered the reading of the journal.

He reiterated the sentiment Tuesday, saying he would encourage any state representative who has a bill sitting on the Senate’s calendar to meet with leadership and the committee chairs as to “why they wouldn’t release Senate bills out of [the] committees.”

“We as the Senate will not be held hostage. We as the Senate … will not reward those by taking up their House bills when our Senate bills linger and die in the House rules committees,” Hoskins said.

Legislation pertaining to Hailey’s Law is, however, awaiting Senate approval as well. Language is attached to Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman’s HB 397, which under Sen. Jeanie Riddle’s guidance, has expanded into an “omnibus-esque bill” pertaining to child protections. That bill is currently awaiting Senate confirmation for a conference committee.

But the crux of the fight is over a House bill that would create a statewide PDMP. Missouri is the only state without such a program. 

Republican Rep. Holly Rehder’s HB 188 — creating a PDMP — sits on the Senate’s calendar for the third reading of House bills. Rehder chairs the House Rules – Administrative Oversight Committee which only passed Sen. Justin Brown’s SB 71, modifying provisions related to workers’ compensation, out of committee Tuesday morning.

“I have no problem bringing up the PDMP bill,” Hoskins said Tuesday afternoon. “I have several amendments for that bill. And we’re going to discuss the PDMP bill until the sun comes up tomorrow.”

Sen. Bill Eigel called Tuesday’s move a “defense of the Senate conversation” and said Rehder’s PDMP bill could “potentially put the First and Fourth Amendment protections of our citizens at risk here in the state of Missouri.”

“It’s never a good time to have legislation hijacked by just two chairmen over in the House, but here we are,” Eigel said, before holding the Senate floor for nearly an hour.

Rehder declined to comment on the actions in the Senate Tuesday afternoon. Rep. Rocky Miller, the chairman of the House Rules – Legislative Oversight Committee, did not return a request for comment.

With less than two weeks to go before the end of the legislative session, the House adjourned around 1 p.m. Tuesday. Hoskins’ filibuster — aided by Eigel — lasted until just before 6 p.m.

The Senate did tackle a couple of House bills up for third reading Tuesday, laying most over and only passing two. PDMP was not taken up Tuesday night.