(AP) – Conceding they were hopelessly at odds, Missouri senators quit early on their final day of session Friday, effectively killing a bill to rewrite the state’s deadly force standards for police in response to last summer’s fatal shooting in Ferguson.
Senate Democrats briefly relented from a weeklong blockade to allow final approval of a bill reauthorizing $3.6 billion of annual health care provider taxes for the state’s Medicaid program. But that was the only bill they let come to a vote.
The Democrats have been stalling virtually all Senate action since the Republican majority used a rare procedural motion to shut off debate and force a vote earlier this week on a right-to-work bill barring the mandatory collection of union fees.
Acknowledging that nothing more was likely to get done, Republican Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard moved that the Senate adjourn around 3:15 p.m. – nearly three hours ahead of the 6 p.m. deadline. The other senators agreed.
The early adjournment means that all legislation pending in the Senate is now dead.
Meanwhile, the House continued to vote on bills, including many that had been passed by the Senate in previous weeks.
Special legislative sessions typically are called by the governor, but it’s unclear whether Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has any desire to summon lawmakers back later this year for more work.
One of the bills that died this session would redefine when police can use deadly force in response to the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black, by a white Ferguson police officer.
The House passed the bill earlier Friday, but because it made changes to a version previously passed by the Senate, the bill needed one final vote from senators, which did not occur.
Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, who represents Ferguson, denounced her colleagues for creating a “fiasco” that she described as “an embarrassment to this nation.”
“Now, any person in my district can be killed (by police) and, still, the person who killed them doesn’t have to be prosecuted,” said Chappelle-Nadal, who participated in protests after Brown’s Aug. 9 death. “All I ask is for is the opportunity to have the deadly force bill passed.”
In November, a state grand jury decided not to charge former Ferguson officer Darren Wilson for shooting Brown, and a U.S. Justice Department report released in March determined Wilson acted in self-defense.