The first half of Missouri's 2014 legislative session is over, and lawmakers have left Jefferson City for their annual spring break.
House Speaker Tim Jones, a Republican from Eureka, touted the passage of several of his priorities, including photo voter ID legislation, conscientious objections to certain medical procedures, and ending the economic border war between Missouri and Kansas. Jones told reporters Thursday he wants to push several issues when they return in a week and a half, including right-to-work legislation.
"We have an economic choice to make here in Missouri: Do we want to move forward and debate that issue? I personally do. I believe there's a large majority of our caucus (which) does as well," Jones said. "We're going to discuss that when we come back and decide how to move forward."
The first priority when House members return from spring break will be taking up the state budget and voting it over to the Missouri Senate. The Senate, meanwhile, is expected to continue working on revising the state's criminal code when their members return. That extremely large bill could run up against opposition in the House because it would change the way marijuana cases are handled. Someone convicted of possession of small amounts of marijuana would no longer run the risk of a felony and prison time. Some House members think revising drug laws should be done in a separate bill.
"There are going to be issues that are brought up in that large of a bill, where someone is going to say, 'I'm fine with the overall bill, but this issue is a deal breaker for me, or that issue is a deal breaker for me,'" Jones said. "Where the caucus is specifically, I do not know yet, so we're going to have to wait and see ultimately what comes out of the Senate."
President Pro-tem Tom Dempsey's top priority for the Senate was accomplished last month, passing a bill that softens the blow of the student transfer law. The Senate has also passed its version of the Border War "cease fire" bill. Dempsey says his goals for the second half include reaching a resolution on a tax cut.
"I'd like to see us pass a tax cut that is more than a tax cut in name only and to put that on the governor's desk, try that first," Dempsey said.
Senate Republicans are currently wrestling with a proposed compromise between Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, and state Sen. Will Kraus, a Republican from Lee’s Summit. The latest version of Kraus' bill deals more with tax credits, and only includes a deduction for Missourians who earn less than $20,000 a year.
The second half of the 2014 regular session begins March 24.