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TWMP Column: Session Winners

Session Winners

Senator Cindy O’Laughlin – She came into office after four years of chaos and played a key role in restoring a relatively normal session of the Missouri Senate. Of course, some will argue that she just put off problems till the end of session, but either way from eliminating the worthless 10:00 a.m. session to adjourning when the senate deadlocked, to insisting bills be close to a deal before coming to the floor the scoreboard showed that her approach showed success.

Senator Mike Moon – When session began it seemed likely that the General Assembly would pass a bill banning trans athletes from high school sports, and that he would not be that bill’s sponsor. By the time it ended, there was that as well as a bill banning all puberty blockers and it was his legislation. Now that he is passing legislation, this could be a turning point in the career of the Senator from Lawrence.

House Speaker Dean Plocher – The house laid out a clear set of priorities at the beginning of session and passed all of them. There has never been a speaker who hasn’t been frustrated with the Senate, but that isn’t on him. He still has an issue in IP reform to come back to next year and can head off on the campaign trail with a long list of accomplishments and a goal for next year.

Quarterbacks and cheerleaders – For the past several years the suburban Republicans have driven the debate on education, and that debate has been a constant drumbeat of helping charter schools at the expense of rural schools. This year the rural schools offered a version of education reform in Rep. Brad Pollitt’s open enrollment so no one can accuse them of just being against everything, and this year it was the suburbans who were the ones saying no.

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones – There was no question that it was tough for her to express concerns about the Circuit Attorney’s Office, but it was just the first in a series of savvy moves the mayor has made in Jefferson City. It is not easy for the mayor of a modern very liberal city to relate to a supermajority of a very conservative state Republicans.

However, her first move that has seen instant results was keeping Jacque Bardgett as the City’s lobbyist. By the end of session the Circuit Attorney had resigned, and a week later has been replaced by someone she could see herself voting for, and the city still has control of its police force. Now she has seven months to rest before the next onslaught of legislation starts again.

Senator Lincoln Hough – Ran the budget process as smoothly as anyone can remember, albeit with an assist from a house fumble. In the end, the only complaints were about the budget being too large from senators who threatened to not allow it to pass…unless it was millions larger.

He has now passed the largest tax cut in the history of the state and passed the largest infrastructure project in the history of the state in the rebuilding of I-70.

House Floor Leader Jon Patterson – He was right there in moving the very large Republican agenda through the house. Also, he has not only IP reform to fight for next session but a list of his own priorities to run for speaker on.

Attorney General Andrew Bailey – He took the job in January, and by March was leading the charge addressing the biggest issue facing the state, St. Louis crime. His quo warranto motion to remove Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner was the catalyst that ultimately led to her resignation. There are a lot of people scrambling to claim credit, but the one fact that is indisputable is that without his unique and at the time controversial legal action there is no change in the Circuit Attorney’s Office.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade – There are some pushing an agenda to give her credit for her what they claim is a lack of suburban Republican priorities passing, but she was a winner this session not because of what she watched fail, but what she accomplished.

After five years she has put her caucus in a position they haven’t seen in a decade: relevance.

The more the house republicans allow the suburban and the Robert Ford rural members divide their caucus the more relevance the house democrats will have. As of now, if you’re a lobbyist and you don’t have a plan to be at the Democrat’s summer caucus, you’re not real good at counting to 82.

Senator Mary Elizabeth Coleman – She entered as a heat magnet from across the rotunda, and a session later she is someone independent, and building a reputation of addressing real issues that matter to real people.

Sports betting – Of course, it didn’t pass again, but now it’s free. The Chiefs and Cardinals no longer have to come to the capitol and ask legislators to free them from VLT legislation. Now they can just go to the ballot where it’s likely to pass. Further, they don’t have to meet the higher threshold that could come from IP reform. I’m sure the sports teams and their fans are frustrated, but they no longer have to rely on forces outside of their control to make it happen.

Senator Mike Bernskoetter – Everyone has their own theories as to why the Senate has seen five years of conflict. However, the date it started is not in dispute, and it was the day of the last senate leadership election in November of 2018.

Senator Bernskoetter was involved in one last November and could have easily chosen a different path than the one of putting his head down and going back to work in the Senate. It was a strategy that worked out well for an ‘ol Polk County Sheriff who once lost a senate leadership race himself.

There is a lot of credit to go around for the four months of relative normalcy in the state senate, but there isn’t nearly enough credit given to Senator Bernskoetter for it.

Senators Caleb Rowden and John Rizzo – Another session of the Missouri State Senate, the state’s most important institution, and no PQs and a return to some sense of normalcy. In an age where statesmanship and senatorial acumen is almost vilified is an amazing accomplishment. The state has been fortunate to have these two safeguarding its most sacred institution for the last half of a decade.

Senator Jill Carter – Who knew what to expect from a freshman who came out of nowhere to beat a Republican incumbent? Well, she showed that she has a backbone, and going forward you will have to ask on any piece of legislation, “Where is Senator Carter on this”. Not bad.

House Speaker Pro Tim Mike Henderson – He is assembling an impressive list of legislative accomplishments, and making inroads all throughout the 3rd for whenever that state senate is open. He has become a go-to person to handle tough bills, and that will continue in his final year in the house.

Senators Brattin, Hoskins, and Eigel – Senator Brattin went to the floor to stop the senate until his concerns on a local landfill were addressed, and they were. Senators Hoskins and Eigel wanted some spending in their districts and they held the budget up until they got it. Then the senators said session is over unless Senator Eigel’s county property tax cut was passed, and it was. You can like the tactics or not, but they had some success.

Governor Mike Parson – After seeing a total ban of abortion, cleaning up the mess of the Greitens debacle, signing the state’s largest tax cut, the most aggressive pro 2nd amendment legislation in the country, and seeing the state through a pandemic he laid out a pragmatic list of accomplishments that will improve the everyday life of Missourians. He got most of what he asked for. Not bad.

No show this weekend for Memorial Day, but we will be back next week with Senator Jason Bean.