2018 legislative session underway at the Capitol

2 years 4 months 2 weeks ago Wednesday, January 03 2018 Jan 3, 2018 Wednesday, January 03, 2018 3:07:00 PM CST January 03, 2018 in News
By: Savannah Rudicel, KOMU 8 Reporter and The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - Missouri lawmakers have kicked off the 2018 legislative session.

Lawmakers returned to the Capitol Wednesday for the start of the roughly five-month session.

Some Missouri senators are already clashing with Republican Gov. Eric Greitens over his appointments to the State Board of Education, and his work to replace the state's top education official.

Shortly before the start of session, Greitens withdrew his appointees and then re-appointed them in a technical move that will give senators more time to consider confirmation.

The people re-appointed face a tough road to confirmation. They recently voted to fire former Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven, who had support among educators and some lawmakers. Greitens pushed for months for Vandeven's ouster.

Fellow Republican Sens. Rob Schaaf and Gary Romine said they'll block Greitens' school board appointees. The Senate President Pro Tem also disagreed with the governor's decision.

"I'll give the governor, maybe it's his first chance as a freshman governor, that it could have been handled better," said Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin.

Democrats were less lenient.

"This was a hatchet job," said Sen. Gina Walsh, D-St. Louis.

Republican legislative leaders say they want to enact more limits on liability lawsuits and more laws on unions this session. Both the top Republican senator and the GOP House majority leader said their goal is to end a law that requires minimum local wages for public construction projects.

Proposed changes to the state's tax laws will also come up. Greitens said he wants a tax overhaul this session, but he has not given any details. Richard said he will be cautious before he votes to approve any major tax cut.

"I'm going to be very careful to make sure that we're not endangering this institution, this building, the taxpayers after I'm gone beyond repair, Richard said. "I don't want a Brownback thing. I don't want what's going on with the Kansas Senate."

Republicans are expected to focus on the expansion of charter schools, transportation funding and the minimum wage requirements for construction. 

Democrats are expected to focus on items such as the opioid crisis, healthcare cuts to seniors and an ethics package. 

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