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Politically Speaking: Sen. Dempsey Takes Stock Of Another Eventful Veto Session

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio

In what’s becoming something of a post-veto session tradition, Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Chris McDaniel, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum to discuss the impact of the General Assembly's annual event.

  The St. Charles Republican leads the 23-member Republican caucus in the Missouri Senate. And this past week, his chamber participated in votes to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s vetoes of 10 standalone bills and 47 line-item vetoes of spending items in the current budget.

The bills that now become law include a broading-ranging bill that expands gun rights and another measure enacting a 72-hour waiting period for abortions.

To pass the 72-hour waiting period bill, the Senate needed to unleash a rarely-used procedural motion known as the “previous question.” That maneuver shuts off debate, kills off filibusters and forces a vote on a particular bill or motion. This was the first time the motion was used since 2007, which the Senate quashed filibusters on an abortion-related bill and a constitutional amendment making English the official language of proceedings.

The Senate's action during the veto session ended a Democratic filibuster that lasted two hours. But it came at a cost: Democrats were upset over the action, so the Senate took up no more overrides and adjourned hours before the House did. A number of bills died as a result of the Senate's early shutdown.

During the show, Dempsey said:

  • He had gotten no advance notice of the Democrats' filibuster of the abortion bill. He said a majority of Senate Republicans considered a filibuster during the veto session to be a special circumstance that warranted use of  the "previous question."  The Senate had to vote on the override on Wednesday because it only had the exact number of 23 votes needed to override the veto -- and one Republican wasn't going to be present on Thursday.
  • He doesn't foresee any major abortion-related legislation during the next session.
  • He expects some bills may seek to address concerns raised during the unrest in Ferguson.  The General Assembly may even address the issue of St. Louis County's 90 municipalities, some of whom are small and rely on fees and traffic tickets to raise the money to operate.
  • He has no plans to run for statewide office in 2016, although he does have a campaign committee. Dempsey says he's using some of that committee money to help other Republican candidates this fall.

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter@jmannies

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter@jrosenbaum

Follow Tom Dempsey on Twitter: @senatordempsey

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.