Senate Avoids Planned Parenthood Contempt Showdown
April 22, 2016

(AP) – The Missouri Senate announced Thursday it is suspending contempt proceedings against a Planned Parenthood CEO after reaching an agreement to review some documents a legislative committee investigating the organization subpoenaed last year.
The fetal tissue disposal policies of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri will be made available along with other documents, including blank patient forms and written protocols for abortions. Republican and Democratic Senate leaders will designate people to review the documents during business hours in the office of the regional organization’s attorney, but they will not be allowed to copy them, according to the agreement.
Some documents will be available for review as soon as noon Friday, while others will take longer to produce, the agreement said. All the documents must be provided by May 9.
Senators voted last week to summon to the chamber Mary Kogut, CEO and president of the regional Planned Parenthood, to justify why she had not complied with the Senate’s subpoena and explain why she should not be held in contempt, a rare move that could carry jail time.

Missouri Statehouse Journos: Thou Shalt Not Tweet
January 7, 2016

(AP) – Missouri senators have ordered journalists off the Senate floor after some lawmakers complained their private conversations had been tweeted.
The Senate voted 26-4 on Thursday to relocate reporters to a visitors’ gallery overlooking the chamber in Jefferson City.
Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard says he initiated the move because some reporters had violated the Senate’s trust in recent years by tweeting private discussions and negotiations they overheard on the Senate floor.
He didn’t cite any specific examples.
Starting on March 29, journalists will no longer be allowed at their longtime 10-seat table near the Senate dais and the desks of several senators. Photographers will still be allowed on the Senate floor.
In the House, reporters generally use the press gallery overlooking the chamber.

Now It’s Senate Leader Dempsey Leaving Missouri Senate
July 31, 2015

(AP) – Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey said Friday that he is resigning from office to launch a new private-sector career and spend more time with his family.

Dempsey told The Associated Press his resignation will take effect Aug. 7 and he hopes to say more about his new job in the coming weeks.

The Republican from St. Charles first was elected in 2000 to the House, where he rose through the ranks to become majority leader, and has served since 2007 in the Senate, again as majority leader before ascending to the chamber’s top position of president pro tem.

He is the fifth lawmaker to resign in the past year. But Dempsey said his departure is unrelated to recent scandals involving colleagues. Last week, Democratic Sen. Paul LeVota said he would resign effective Aug. 23 while denying allegations that he sexually harassed interns. In May, Republican House Speaker John Diehl resigned after acknowledging he exchanged sexually suggestive text messages with an intern.

Dempsey said he had considered stepping down late last year but decided to wait until after the 2015 legislative session in order to maintain continuity in the Senate after the chamber’s longtime secretary and its staff administrator both retired.

“It’s time to do this for my family,” Dempsey said in an AP interview before releasing a written statement about his resignation. Serving in public office has “been rewarding, it’s been challenging, but it also takes its toll.”

Democrats Filibuster Snags Senate on Final Day
May 15, 2015

(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.

Senate Over Rides Nixon Welfare Veto
May 5, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri senators have voted to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill removing several thousand low-income families from a welfare program.

The Republican-led chamber voted 25-9 Monday to pass a measure that cuts the lifetime limit for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program from five years to three years and nine months. The bill also imposes stricter work requirements.

The bill now goes to the House, where a two-thirds vote also is needed to override Nixon’s veto.

The Democratic governor says the bill would harm thousands of children due to the actions of their parents.

Republican supporters say the measure would end dependency on welfare and encourage people to get jobs.

The cash assistance program provides up to $292 a month for a single parent with two children.