As Missouri lawmakers are called back to Jefferson City for the second time in a month their patience with Gov. Eric Greitens may be wearing thin.
Greitens has repeatedly said the lawmakers failed to act on several issues during the regular session and now they are simply on summer vacation.
State Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, says he doesn’t appreciate the way the new governor is talking about his colleagues.
“He is saying we didn’t do our job during the regular session,” Schatz said. “It’s frustrating. That kind of talk needs to stop.”
Schatz added Missouri lawmakers have other jobs and careers to make a living.
The repeated special sessions are not only becoming a strain on lawmakers, but also on the taxpayers costing as much as $22,000 each day the General Assembly is in session.
“I’m not on vacation,” Schatz said. “We are all part-time legislators. I have a business that needs my attention.”
Schatz said the special session did not come through the usual channels and lawmakers were caught somewhat off guard.
“That’s one area he (Greitens) can work on,” Schatz said. “We (lawmakers) don’t get a lot of communication from the governor’s office. This session announcement was not communicated via the Senate leadership. Hopefully, we can mark it up to his inexperience. He can’t just spring an issue on the Legislature.”
Schatz added there were a couple of things he would have liked to accomplish during the regular session, but because of the log jam at the end of the session, they just didn’t happen.
“The governor needs to realize it’s a long process,” Schatz said. “You can’t just push things through.”
Legislation addressing both of the special session issues was sponsored in the regular session that ended May 12, but because of infighting toward the end of the session, they were not voted on.
Greitens called the first special session May 22, to push legislation that would allow the Public Service Commission to negotiate utility rates with the end goal of luring business to the southeastern part of the state.
This week, Greitens called lawmakers back to address several provisions related to abortion.
The General Assembly does not have to take up any legislation in a special session just because the governor calls for one.
For this special session, Schatz said a conference call was held and it was determined this issue was time sensitive and needed to be addressed before the next session in January 2018.
He added if Greitens does call for additional session this summer or fall, they may not be met with the same results.
“He has to be careful,” Schatz said. “We could simply come in, then adjourn without taking any action. I talked to the governor a couple of weeks ago and he didn’t allude to any issues, or what was on his mind.”
Greitens has hinted at calling several consecutive special sessions since the state Constitution dictates only one specific topic can be covered in an extraordinary session.
Other key issues which may be addressed in special session this year include a prescription drug monitoring program, lobbyist gift ban, expansion of charter schools and prevailing wage.
Schatz added he will be traveling to Europe with Greitens next week and hopes to get a chance to make lawmaker’s concerns known and get a feel for what other issues the governor may want addressed during the off season.