JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri legislature wrapped up the 2018 legislative session, which ran from January to May, allowing lawmakers to escape the Capitol before the Republican governor’s sudden resignation.
The state’s dominant Republican Party, which holds super-majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives, chalked up a few major wins in the session’s final weeks. But any legislative accomplishments were soon overshadowed by the beleaguered Gov. Eric Greitens’ decision to forfeit his powerful perch.
Among the bills passed:
- House Bill 1729, a partial repeal of the state’s prevailing wage statutes
- House Bill 2540, which lowers tax rates on individuals and corporations
- House Bill 1413, which imposes regulations on public-sector labor unions
The majority party was also successful in changing the date of an upcoming referendum on right-to-work legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Greitens last year. The question on whether to repeal the law, which prevents labor unions from requiring represented workers to pay dues, will be placed on the August ballot, as opposed to facing voters during the November general elections.
The Missouri legislature also approved the state operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Taking advantage of a projected rise in state revenue, the updated budget avoided cutting funding for higher education and increased spending on several social programs. You can read more about the legislation here.
The General Assembly will reconvene in September to consider overriding any legislative vetoes from Republican Gov. Mike Parson. Parson, a long-time fixture of Missouri politics and, until last week, the state’s lieutenant governor, was sworn into the governor’s office Friday evening following his predecessor’s resignation.
Greitens stepped down under intense pressure from state and national politicians of both parties. His abdication came amid ongoing legislative and criminal investigations into his alleged use of sexual blackmail against a former lover and possible campaign finance violations during his 2016 run for governor.
As a historic first, the General Assembly called itself into a special session for the sole purpose of considering possible impeachment charges against Greitens. With the former chief executive’s resignation, however, such action is no longer necessary — but the House-led investigation might continue some aspects of its fact-finding mission, regardless.
Political attention in the state now shifts to the upcoming midterm elections, where U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, will face likely Republican nominee Josh Hawley, the state attorney general, for a seat that could decide partisan control of Congress’ upper chamber.
At the state level, the August right-to-work referendum will get plenty of attention, as will the November vote on an initiative to increase government transparency. The proposed constitutional amendment, Clean Missouri, would eliminate lobbyists’ gifts to state lawmakers, establish a citizen commission for legislative redistricting and lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates.
A majority of votes would enshrine Clean Missouri into the state’s constitution. After Greitens’ successful strategy of campaigning on cleaning up corruption in Jefferson City, but his perceived failure to deliver on that promise, one can expect a strong drive for the initiative’s passage this fall.