Mo. Lawmakers Finish 2013 Session
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri lawmakers wrapped up this year's legislative session on Friday evening. Leaders in the Republican-controlled legislature are calling the session a success.
"It was a session of historic accomplishments and substantive reforms," said House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka.
But Democrats in the Statehouse are singing a different tune.
"First I wish that I could call this legislative session a success. I'm sure the Speaker did. I think it is an absolute abject failure," said House Minority Leader Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis.
And Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon fell somewhere in between those two views.
"I think there were some things that got done and some things that didn't get done," said Gov. Nixon.
Republicans cited several bills that the legislature sent to the Governor's desk when proclaiming their success including a massive tax cut, restrictions on labor organizations, more funding for education and a fix to an insolvent state fund for disabled workers called the Second Injury Fund.
While leaders touted the things that got accomplished, they also acknowledges priorities that fell by the wayside.
"Though we were not able to move comprehensive economic development in tax credit reform this year, I know as a restaurateur when you have a great experience you tell two people and when you have a bad experience you tell 10," said Senate President Pro-Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles. "So, people may dwell on the items that weren't accomplished."
Senators blocked two major pieces of legislation early Friday. One was a priority lawmakers and the governor shared - reining in the amount of money the state spends on tax credits. Sen. Brad Lager, R-Maryville, blocked the bill that would overhual several of the state's tax credit programs because the measure didn't do enough to reduce tax credits.
Another major issue that was blocked in the Senate on the final day Friday would have given voters the chance to approve a one cent sales tax to fund Missouri's underfunded roads.
Gov. Nixon gave a mixed review of the legislature's performance but remained critical of some issues.
"All this important unfinished business is particularly stark in the light of unnecessary things that the legislature did find time to address like Sharia Law and something called Agenda 21," said Gov. Nixon.
Even though his key priority of Medicaid Expansion was deemed dead weeks ago by legislative leaders he was still optimistic that progress was made.
"Just because you don't get to the finish line doesn't mean you're not closer to the finish line," said Gov. Nixon. "We're making progress."
The governor now has until July 14 to sign or veto legislation that passed this session.
The bills that the governor indicated Friday that he would look at extra closely included the massive tax cut that would put a projected $800 million hole in Missouri's budget and bills that attempt to nullify federal gun laws.
If Nixon does veto bills the General Assembly will have a chance to override that veto in September.