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TWMP Column: Session Recap 

Senator Caleb Rowden – He finally got his charter school in Columbia and ended his six-year run in leadership without ever smearing the Senate with a PQ. He proved worthy of the faith that Senators RichardWasson, and Kehoe placed in him.

Senator John Rizzo – The ultimate statesman. He spent a good deal of the last four years knowing just how much to push, and just when to step back and watch the Republicans fight amongst themselves. He will leave the Senate as the most respected Senate Minority Leader since the legendary Senator Webster.

House Speaker Dean Plocher – God, the left-wingers hate him now. He beat them 7-2 and The Independent will NEVER forgive him for it. A year ago he was running for statewide office in a crowded field and his message was, “I agree with those other white dudes”. Today he has a message of “I’ve seen the swamp and I beat it 7-2”.

Senator Cindy O’Laughlin – She made progress towards cleaning up a mess that she didn’t make in the Missouri Senate. Senator O’Laughlin got through the last session of the Eigel/Rowden/Hoskins melodrama from the leadership elections six years ago pretty well. There were some strong legislative achievements, but mostly she stood up to the folks Senator Schatz didn’t, to better results. Now can she win the three key primaries this summer? If she does she will deserve to have her name go down alongside Senators Kinder, Dempsey, and Richard. If she stays out of the primaries like Schatz did, well then she deserves what she gets and will likely hand it off worse than she found it.

City of St. Louis & Senator Karla May – Mayor Jones made a crucial move when she took office keeping Jacque Bardgett as the city’s lobbyist, and it paid off again this session. Against all odds and near-daily attacks they were able to fend off:

– State control of the police.

– Elimination of earnings tax.

– Takeover of the Lambert Airport commission by collar counties.

– Effort to create a second firefighters pension fund.

– Legislation to protect Paul McKee land from eminent domain.

Senator Bill Eigel – He got everything he wanted this session, attention. He came out of the 4th quarter on fire, I’m not sure he entered the 2nd quarter as hot, but he has the message of “everyone is awful and I would do it better”, and he can deliver it better than anyone not named Eric Greitens.

Look, Eigel is in 3rd in the Governor’s race, but make no mistake he is one seven-figure donation from being right there in the thick of it this summer.

Governor Mike Parson – Like he was ever gonna let anyone tell him when to sign a bill…Now strap in for those line-item vetoes.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade – She did her normal job of competently leading the House Minority and impressing most everyone she came into contact with. The live rounds being fired at her this session weren’t from Republicans, they were from Illinois Democrats in Mike Hamra working with Missouri Democrats to make her summer, and the entire democratic ticket’s fall harder.

She is the most talented politician in the party, and put a capstone on her turnaround of a dismal House Democrats operation and is off to the governor’s race, and then probably a senate race. Regardless the capitol hasn’t seen the last of the Lady from Greene.

Missouri Right to Life – They had a big win in passing the latest ban Planned Parenthood bill. However, they didn’t get what they wanted in the IP debate. They will still be the biggest endorsement in the primaries, and the only question is are they just a wing of the Freedom Caucus or are they still their own entity? In reality they will be blamed for the losses if the abortion IP is on the November ballot. However, that IP passing is the best possible thing for them.

Senator Lincoln Hough – This might not have been the domination of the budget process he has enjoyed for the last five years, but he did land the thing in the absolute worst conditions. All while raising money like a young Kit Bond for his Lt. Governor’s race.

Missouri Realtors Association – What was all that about this being the year IP reform was gonna happen?

House Majority Leader Dr. Jon Patterson – He showed all the savvy and poise in how he stayed out of the Plocher/staff drama. Now he will benefit from a staff that knows they can’t fall out with two consecutive speakers, and he will be able to call his shots. He is cut out of the Todd Richardson mold, the most honorable man to ever hold that gavel, in that his caucus isn’t supportive of him because of a shared position or a promise of a chairmanship. Similar to Richardson they support Patterson because of their respect for him as a man and as a leader.

School Choice – Big win, and now it should be clear to all that charter schools, are here to stay. Now they have to follow up on that big this spring win by electing their intellectual leader Rep. Phil Christofanelli to the senate this summer. If they get on that roll, then look for them to follow up with some sort of win every other year until full school choice is finally won.

Education Establishment – They took a loss, but got paid well for it. Look, Senator Eslinger taking over DESE is probably the last gasp for that outfit. If they don’t all fall in behind her and do exactly as she says then I’d look for DESE to be gutted in 3-4 years. Honestly as it stands now, who would even notice?

For all the interest groups and bureaucrats dedicated to defending the Mr…errr Dr. Aaron Cornmans of the state, they are going to have to make a decision. Come up with a way to call out and cull the worst 5% of your superintendents or continue to watch parent after parent tell you to go to hell.

Senator Jill Carter – She was elected in one of the biggest upsets in state senate history, and the surprises didn’t stop there as she completely upended the education debate in the state. Then she help found, and then left the Freedom Caucus. I predict she will be at the center of a lot next session.

MATA – The greatest turnaround in lobbying world in at least 20 years. You couldn’t squeak a tort reform bill through the Senate for love nor money, well maybe money. They have been investing in the freedom caucus and building a wall of Republican senators that would have never been thought possible even five years ago. To hear Senator Eigel work in pro trial lawyer talking points into his end of session press conference is a work of art by MATA.

Senator Rick Brattin & Rep. Mike Haffner – Speaking of MATA one of their favorite sons, Senator Brattin had a great session. He was able to harass and attack republican senators all session and still get Senator Cierpiot to pass his landfill bill. There hasn’t been a greater persuasion of fools since Tom Sawyer convinced the children of Hannibal to whitewash Aunt Polly’s fence for him.

While it was Rep. Haffner’s bill, I wonder who the folks of Cass County will really give the credit to this summer.

Senator Doug Beck – He did what he needed to do to put himself in prime position to be the minority leader next session. He will win Webber, he might win Sauls, if he wins both and pulls a hat trick in Peerless he will come in with a renewed head of steam in a more balanced senate.

House Budget Chairman Cody Smith – In his last session he got to write the majority of the state budget. It’s nice to see a genuinely good guy have a good day.

Labor – It appears organized labor has fallen in line behind the Carpenter’s lead and had a pretty quiet session because of it.

Senator Mike Moon – I think it might have been fair to call Senator Moon an obstructionist at times. However, this was the session where he took a step forward and was in the room when several of the deals were cut this session.

Kill the Fill – A great grassroots movement that got a supermajority of Republicans to trample all over property rights, pick winners and losers, and pretty well make a mockery of all their “conservative” rhetoric. It took organization and tenacity, and in the end they won.

Senator Mary Elizabeth Coleman – She passed her latest defund Planned Parenthood bill, and earned some respect from her fellow senators when the clown show somehow tried to blame her for IP reform failing.

Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe – Anyone at the core of the school choice debate knows in the end it was Kehoe who was in the trenches working to bring in the last few votes. I suspect that won’t be forgotten this summer.

Rep. Alex Riley – He began session in a tight race for Floor Leader with Rep. Burger, and ended session unopposed and ready for a coronation.

Initiative Petition Reform – Look, if the Republicans really thought they could sell IP reform they would have taken the Senate bill to the voters. In the end they didn’t think they could win. If the abortion IP passes then it will be a very long time before IP reform is taken seriously.

Rep. Phil Christofanelli – He passed the school choice bill, completing a long legislative resume in the House and stockpiled cash for his Senate run this summer.

SENATOR Jason Bean – All the pressure to become a State Rep. was on him. From Jeff City, to Facebook, to Washington everyone was pressuring him to smear shit on the Senate. While a man’s word means nothing to people in Washington, or on Facebook, it still means something in Peach Orchard.

Rep. Dane Diehl – Holy hell is there actually a Republican who can lead the business community in a tort reform fight? After years of MATA kicking the business community they might have found their hero in the Gentleman from Bates.