As the dust settles on the 2017 legislative regular session, State Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, feels positive about what was accomplished.
After a quick start, infighting between the House and Senate seemed to grind lawmaking to a halt.
“The last couple of weeks were by far the worst I’ve seen,” Alferman said. “Disgusted doesn’t go far enough to describe how the Senate acted. No offense to the senators I work with, but I would give them a solid D minus. It was a joke. There is no other way to describe it.”
On the House side, 76 bills passed of the 1,231 that were filed.
Alferman filed 11 bills and he’s pleased with the progress they made.
“Just because my name wasn’t on a bill that passed, almost all of them found vehicles,” he said. “About 75 percent found their way onto a bill and onto the governor’s desk.”
Last year, Alferman made national news with the passage of a Voter ID bill, which was vetoed by then Gov. Jay Nixon and later successfully overridden.
“There was nothing quite as flashy as voter ID this year for me,” he said. “But, we got some pieces of legislation done we had been trying to pass for years.”
Alferman serves as the vice chairman of the budget committee and says the highlight of the session for him was the budget generated in the House which was later passed by the Senate and sent on to Gov. Eric Greitens.
“We were able to cut almost $500 million and avoid cuts to education and Medicaid,” he said. “The biggest thing was to take the start off of the education foundation formula.”
The infighting between the two legislative houses began after a senator requested all seemingly benign house consent bills be removed from the Senate calender.
House members retaliated by ambushing Senate bills and tacking on amendments to bills that were very near passage.
The actions on both sides caused several bills not to be passed due to time running out on the session May 12.
Alferman said despite promises from Senate leadership, many simple bills languished, barely squeaked by or died.
In addition to his pride in the state budget he helped formulate, Alferman also was the House handler of State Sen. Dave Schatz’, R-Sullivan, bill to name Highway 100 bridge over Boeuf Creek near New Haven after MoDOT worker Lyndon Ebker, who was killed while working there last year.
Alferman had filed an identical bill in the House, which was expected to pass without issue as a consent bill before it was removed from the Senate calender.
Alferman has worked closely with the Ebker family and has made a formal request to the governor’s office for Gov. Greitens to come to Franklin County for a bill signing ceremony.