The big news of the day is that four senators were removed from their committee assignments.
Below is my column on what went down Thursday that led to today.
Session began with members of the new and improved Washington ran conservative caucus now with House members saying they are not going to just kill things and attack their fellow Republicans…..well that’s pretty much exactly what went down for 12 hours today.
The morning started off with Senator Hoskins offering an SJR to pull the IP reform legislation into a committee of the whole so they could pass it in next week.
Now I’m confident there is 24 votes for IP reform, but I’m not sure there is 18 votes for any one specific reform, but that didn’t stop anyone.
The Democrats finally getting their ducks in a row on their abortion IP was a fitting backdrop to the IP legislation.
Around this time the Washington group that is now running the conservative caucus sent out a press release stating that Senators Brattin, Eigel, Carter, Koenig and Hoskins would be holding up the gubernatorial appointment slate until IP reform is passed.
Senator Hoskins selected Senator Carter’s IP reform bill to attempt to move and during their inquiry they announced that the press release was accurate and that they would be filibustering the gubernatorial appointments unless IP reform was sent to a committee of the whole.
One of the best arguments for IP reform is that out-of-state foreigners come in and spend money here and run misleading public relations campaigns to enact provisions into our constitution.
One of the greatest ironies of a day filled with irony is that an out-of-state group was sending out a press release announcing Missouri senators would be filibustering an unrelated committee report in order to get rid of the out-of-state groups in the IP process.
That debate took several hours and included one of the best inquiries in the last decade. Senator Eigel inquired of Senator O’Laughlin and the sparks flew.
Senator O’Laughlin discussed a conversation they had in private where Senator Eigel told her that the senate could move forward if all the IP bills went to his committee instead of the committee of the whole, and he would have them on the floor Wednesday.
She says that he makes demands and if she doesn’t give in to those demands then terrorist acts ensue.
Then she asked him, “Do you want me to be Floor Leader”? Then reminded him that he voted for her.
Senator Eigel mentioned it was hypocrisy that some Republicans don’t support the platform. Senator O’Laughlin then said she was for exposing all the hypocrisy and said that she wanted to do all of the platform.
At that point Senator Fitzwater broke the tension by introducing a special guest, the Mizzou QB Brady Cook.
Then Senator Eigel went back to explaining his plan to have a committee of the whole or have his committee handle the IP bills.
Senator O’Laughlin then said she was fine with voting on this motion right now, but if it passed she would be adding a tort reform amendment to the bill.
Senator Eigel then said he would oppose that amendment, to which she replied, “I bet you would”.
Its easily the best lobbying job of the last decade of trial lawyers to heavily contribute to conservative caucus members and have them build a republican wall of resistance to any new tort reform laws.
Then came the day’s sharpest exchange when Senator Eigel stated that, “I just wanna pass IP reform”.
To which Senator O’Laughlin replied, “You just wanna be governor”.
Then Senator O’Laughlin urged Senator Eigel to have the motion voted on, and thanked him for the inquiry.
Then Senator Rehder gave a lengthy speech airing her grievances about the new and improved conservative caucus. Followed by Senator Brattin giving a lengthy speech airing his grievances about his legislation not having enough support to make it out of committee.
I would say that today was probably the best possible day advocates of the K.C. landfill could have hoped for. Honestly the landfill folks and Senator Rizzo if they were being Christian about it should cut checks to the new and improved conservative caucus.
The vote came and it was 25-7 rejecting the motion to put the bill before the committee of the whole.
Senators Eigel, Hoskins, Brattin, Moon, Carter, Schroer, and Koenig voted in favor.
Notably Senator Koenig voted for the motion, but Senator Ben Brown didn’t.
After the vote Senator Brattin announced that the gubernatorial appointment slate was, “not gonna happen”.
Then Senator Rowden inquired of Senator Koenig and asked if he was alright with the citizen volunteers that were picked by the Governor were not going to be allowed to serve, “because a small group of people didn’t get their way”.
To which Senator Koenig replied honestly that yes he did support that.
Then Senator Rowden said that he had never been so disappointed in this chamber. “This is the biggest show of bad faith I’ve ever seen in my life”.
Then Senator Rowden asked Senator Koenig if he trusted him to refer the IP legislation and Senator Koenig said that the majority of the time he did.
So Senator Rowden asked him if he trusted him then why did you vote with them. To which he replied, “…uhh….umm…ya”.
It would appear that Senator Koenig voting against Senator Rowden at every turn but relying on their shared disdain for public schools to bind them together is fraying.
Then Senator Eigel inquired of Senator Rowden and it turned confrontational with Senator Rowden explaining that he is in the position that he is in because the majority of this chamber trusts him.
When that inquiry ended it became a much more traditional filibuster of the slate with each of the six taking their shifts starting with Senator Eigel reading a god awful boring book.
Then Senator Moon began the quorum calls.
It was around this time, say 4:00 or 4:30 that many of the senators started asking what the plan was.
The consensus was that if they were ultimately going to stop then why go past 5:00 or 6:00? Many wanted to either go all in and stay the weekend or leave before dinner.
At that point, most senators generally agreed to push through to crushing the filibuster.
Then there was a new wrinkle in that the majority of the majority started asking for roll call votes on the quorum calls.
By this point Senator Ben Brown had to leave the capitol and return home for a family commitment.
But the other Republicans who did not answer the quorum call were Senators Brattin, Carter, Koenig, and Moon. Senator Hoskins did not answer the second.
Then Senator Schroer took his shift of the filibuster, and tried to go a different route with it by bringing senators in the majority of the majority out on the floor for what turned into some odd inquires.
First was Senator Trent. He was extremely firm in that what the minority of the majority was doing was not helpful in passing any of their shared policy goals.
When Senator Schroer asked him where he thought the senate should go from here he replied, “I would like to see everyone sit down, go to the regular order of business, and move onto the issues we care about. With that I no longer yield”.
Senator Trent is raising eyebrows among his colleagues who are looking for someone who can hold his ground for floor leader. He is garnering everyone’s attention.
Then it was Senator Black’s turn. He was nice about it, but he wasn’t thrilled to be out there either. He finally pulled a slick one in saying that he had to leave the floor because nature was calling. It was country slick.
After running afoul of a point of order called by Senator Rizzo, Senator Schroer inquired of Senator Rowden.
While Senator Rowden gave him some credit in attempting to forge a compromise earlier in the day, it was clear that Senator Rowden wasn’t thrilled with helping filibuster his own committee report.
Senator Schroer finished his session with some quality Waylon Jennings talk.
Then Senator Moon took his shift and began reading a book.
That took us to around 9:00, and those five o’clock plans of crushing the filibuster were dwindling and in a stunning feeling of deja vu they pulled the report and adjourned.
So all the talk about the new and improved conservative caucus is pretty much exactly like the old one. However, I do prefer Jim Lembke to anyone in Washington.
The new conservative caucus, like the old one, tends to filibuster with no real plan to get a victory. In the end they don’t have the votes to do much of anything they really want. Then some of their member compound things by trying to pass things when they kill everyone else’s legislation which rarely ever works.
However, they can torment leadership and in the end it all ensures that not much gets done.
Before they adjourned they received some bills placing the FRA legislation above the ESA expansion bill on the calendar.
My takeaways were: Senator Rowden and Senator O’Laughlin were more forceful in their rhetoric on the floor. Especially Senator Rowden with Senator Koenig and Senator O’Laughlin with Senator Eigel.
Senator Koenig’s tactics of trying to be the nicest member of the conservative caucus could have run its course. I think Senator Rowden has fallen for that so many times you kinda just expect it, but today he seemed like this was somehow different.
Maybe next week they get to ESAs and their shared disdain of schools rekindles their relationship, but as sure as we know that Lucy will move that ball when Charlie goes to kick it Koenig will vote against Caleb when the chips are down.
Senator Brown is staking out his independence. Would have been easy to just fall in line and do as he was told, but he is putting himself in a place where both caucus might have to work for his vote. Would be a pretty sweet spot to be in for the freshman senator.
As much as Senator Schroer would like for folks to get along, it’s just not meant to be. He is on a side now, and maybe in a perfect world it’s not so clear cut, but it kinda is in the real one. Maybe next year.
The FRA being above ESAs on the calendar will give some room for negotiation next week. However, there is no way the attention amendment doesn’t get offered.
Everyone running for higher office will want their shot to propose the Planned Parenthood amendment on the FRA so they can get some Facebook likes. You assume they just vote it down, but at this point who knows? You would assume that the fact that the state has paid them $0 this fiscal year would mean it’s unnecessary, but that would be logical and this is about abortion in the General Assembly.
I really don’t think the relatively worthless last several hours of this filibuster will hurt leadership that much. This type of thing has happened many many times, but I do think the next time they push them they should preprepared to go all the way or you’ll never get your bluff back on anyone.
It will be interesting if leadership forces a vote on the FRA before moving to something else. On the other hand if the Senate passes an ESA bill it will be pretty liberating for Senator Rowden to be tougher on everything else. I think folks know schools are the thing he will go all in for, and if that gets done he is kinda playing with house money.
And that led to the majoirty of the majoirty planting their flag and making a stand today. This column was sent to subscribers Thursday.
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Scott Faughn is the publisher of The Missouri Times, owner of the Clayton Times in Clayton; SEMO Times in Poplar Bluff; and host of the only statewide political television show, This Week in Missouri Politics.