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House bills put on hold

May 04, 1999
By: Jennifer Lutz
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 273, SB 18

JEFFERSON CITY - While the Missouri Senate is consumed with debating the future of partial-birth abortion, House members are left unsure of the chances of their bills making it out of this year's session.

With less than two weeks left in the legislative session, every hour the Senate filibusters is an hour lost for action on other bills.

As 1 p.m. rolled around Tuesday, the House-passed bill to lower the amount of alcohol needed to be considered legally drunk suffered a near fatal blow from the filibuster.

The Senate Transportation Committee was set to discuss the bill, which would lower the legal intoxication limit from .10 to .08. But with the Senate continuing its debate, and only a 45 minute lunch break in between, there was not enough time to hold the committee meeting.

"It is illegal for a committee to meet while the Senate is in session," said Sen. Danny Staples, D-Eminence and committee chairman.

The bill is not necessarily dead, Staples said. The committee meeting will most likely be rescheduled for later in the week, he said.

"We weren't surprised that the committee didn't meet because of the debate in the Senate," said David Leek, legislative assistant to Sen. Morris Westfall's, R-Halfway.

"The chances of it passing are getting slimmer as the time goes on," Leek said.

Legislatures are not the only ones dealing with the consequences from the Senate. Cliff Graham and George Graver, two small grain and livestock farmers from Bowling Green, traveled to Jefferson City to talk about a farm bill with Sen. Ted House, D-St. Charles, and Sen. Joe Maxwell, D-Mexico.

"Where's all the other senators doing their jobs?" Graham said. "Aren't we paying these people?"

Because of the continuing debate, Graham and Graver were unable to speak to the senators. Graver said the Senate shouldn't continue to debate the partial-birth abortion.

"It is killing other bills," he said.

Rep. Tim Harlan, D-Columbia, whose health care bill was also to be heard Tuesday, realizes that as time goes on certain bills will not be able to be heard.

"I'm certainly concerned at this stage of the session when one issue monopolizes all of the Senate's time," Harlan said. "However, I realize it is an important issue and appreciate the efforts of Sen. Jacob, Maxwell and Sims."

Harlan said he would like his bills to move faster through the Senate, but realizes there is nothing he can do about it.

"I know this is an important women's health issue which needs to be dealt with," he said.

House Majority Leader Wayne Crump, is concerned the House is working on passing Senate bills, yet the Senate is not discussing House bills.

"This has become a major concern on the House side," Crump said. "We are over here passing Senate bills while they are sitting on our House bills."

Because the Senate is locked in debate, it is unable to discuss House bills.

"The tax relief bill is one area of concern," Crump said. "There are other bills that we have spent a lot of time on that are not being addressed."

Crump said several representatives have asked him why they are working so hard to pass Senate bills when their bills are not even being heard.

While the legislative calendar has been disrupted by the filibuster, not so the Senate's social calendar. Monday night, the Senate adjourned early for dinner at the home of a fellow senator.