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Senate Republicans pass concurrent jurisdiction with PQ

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Senate Republicans opted to move the previous question in a last-ditch effort to pass a concurrent jurisdiction provision early Thursday morning after a long day of debate in the chamber. 

Republicans forced an end to debate with the motion, putting the issue to a vote before the body 15 hours after the day began. The measure passed the upper chamber shortly before 3 a.m.

A common tactic in the lower chamber, this is the 18th time a PQ has been successfully used in the more deliberate Senate since 1970. 

The language in question was an amendment to HB 2, which concerns witness statement admissability. The amendment from Sen. Bob Onder, which would allow the attorney general to take over homicide cases in St. Louis after 90 days with no progress, was first proposed shortly before noon on Wednesday and led to considerable debate on the floor over the next few hours. 

“We have a crime problem in the state of Missouri right now,” he said on the floor. “This, I believe, can be a valuable tool to fight the murder epidemic in the city of St. Louis.”

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed spearheaded the opposition, sparring with Onder and other Republican opponents over St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, former governor Eric Greitens, Missouri’s gun laws, and the focus of the special session as a whole.

“You’re spending time playing politics instead of dealing with the real issues of crime when it comes to the city of St. Louis,” she said on the floor before going on to call the session and the amendment itself “an act of political theater in an election year.”

Nasheed offered five amendments to the amendment on the floor. The first sought to extend the circuit attorney’s deadline to take on a case from 90 to 120 days, but she withdrew it after extensive debate in favor of a series of tongue-in-cheek provisions, the first of which would have extended concurrent jurisdiction across the state, and the following three covering Springfield, Branson, and Vinita Park. 

After nearly six hours of debate, the bill was placed onto the informal calendar and shelved until 1 a.m. with the last amendment from Nasheed still on the table. The version that passed with the underlying bill early Thursday was a substitute proposed by Onder with no additional amendments attached. It will be taken up by the House again for further consideration.   

The Senate third read and passed the other bills with relative ease. HBs 46 and 66, concerning the St. Louis residency rule and the witness protection fund, were third read and finally passed within an hour of gaveling in on Wednesday. Both move on to the governor’s desk.

HB 11, which would modify the offense of endangering the welfare of a child, was also third read Wednesday morning. HB 16, which seeks to upgrade the offense of unlawful transference of a weapon to a minor, was third read with amendments after HB 2 was moved to the informal calendar. Both bills will return to the House for further consideration before moving on for the governor’s signature. 

 Gov. Mike Parson expanded the call to the special session to include concurrent jurisdiction in St. Louis just after the flagship Senate bill passed to the House. Despite the governor’s call, no bill on the subject had been assigned to a committee or seen any traction in the House. 

The lower chamber dissolved the bill in committee, splitting it into six individual House provisions. HB 12, which would have altered the way juveniles are certified as adults in court, passed out of a House rules committee after considerable debate and revisions but had not been brought up since.