JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — After five hours of session, there was only one clear winner in the Senate Monday: drama.
The upper chamber seemed to have a complete breakdown as relationships among Republicans openly fissured on the floor. Some lawmakers are still agitated over how the Todd Graves appointment to the University of Missouri Board of Curators played out; others think Dave Schatz has taken too much of a hands-on approach as Senate president pro tem, keeping priority legislation like raising the gas tax or tackling so-called gray gambling machines, sources said.
The fracas began when Schatz’s SB 11, creating a statewide mechanical contractor licensing system, came to the floor. While Democratic Sen. Doug Beck was the most vociferous opponent to the bill, arguing from the floor that it hampered local control and weakened training requirements, Republicans, too, were making their displeasure known.
Sen. Steven Roberts, a Democrat, called for a quorum at 8 p.m. — and it took about an hour before the required 18 senators came back to the floor. It took some cajoling but after Republican Sen. Elaine Gannon finally helped establish a quorum, the bill was laid over.
Next up was SB 1, Sen. Dan Hegeman’s legislation extending the sunset on certain federal reimbursement allowances. And it was Sen. Paul Wieland’s turn to air his grievances.
“I have been waiting breathlessly for you to contact my office and for us to have this discussion, but apparently I’m not important enough for you to do that,” Wieland told Hegeman. “Apparently your tactic [for] how to get this done is to do it in the middle of the night without any discussion on my part.”
The last time SB 1 was on the floor, Wieland successfully attached an amendment that would not allow Medicaid payments for abortions (unless the life of the mother was endangered) or “any drug or device … that may cause the destruction of, or prevent the implantation of, an unborn child.” After the amendment was attached, the bill was laid over, and some senators questioned the legality of the added provision.
The version brought up Monday was stripped of Wieland’s amendment. After he spent some time conversing on the floor with Sen. Bob Onder — who got gaveled for saying “damn” while decrying SB 1 without strong anti-abortion provisions as a “betrayal to the pro-life movement” — Hegeman withdrew the substitute and offered an olive branch. Hegeman and Wieland promised before God, the other lawmakers, and anyone still listening online, to meet Tuesday morning to discuss the bill.
Despite some insinuations that SB 1 was brought up in a clandestine manner, Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden’s office informed staffers SB 1 was on deck for Monday earlier in the day, according to communications provided to The Missouri Times by multiple sources.
“Possibilities for this week include 1-20 on the formal calendar, SB 11 (mechanical contractors), SB 1 (FRA), SB 55 (education), and SB 179 or HB 345 (both are on the .065 language),” the text said. “Not sure yet if it would be the house bill or senate so be prepared for either. It’s going to be a great week.”
The Senate adjourned shortly after 9:30 p.m. with a Hegeman/Wieland summit on the horizon. Tuesday is a new day, but it remains to be seen if the tensions percolating will continue to spill out publicly on the floor.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.