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Politically Speaking podcast: Right to work prompts no compromise, all hands filibuster

Rep. Jacob Hummel and Sen. Joe Keaveny, Democrats from St. Louis
Tim Bommel of House Communications and Rebecca Smith of St. Louis Public Radio
Rep. Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis, and Sen. Joe Keaveny, D-St. Louis

On a special edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies use the magic of radio to interview the Missouri General Assembly’s two Democratic leaders – Senate Minority Leader Joe Keaveny and House Minority Leader Jake Hummel.

The two St. Louis Democrats are leaders of diminished caucuses that could find themselves in a combative position over the last few days of session. Senate Democrats, for instance, are as of press time pulling out all the stops to block so-called “right to work,” which bars unions and employers to require all workers in a bargaining unit to pay dues if a majority have voted to organize. (At around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Senate Republicans used a procedural move called the previous question to kill the filibuster and passed right to work by a 21 to 13 margin.)

Even in caucuses that sometimes disagree on key issues, House and Senate Democrats are  unanimous in their opposition to right to work. Before Republicans unleashed the previous question, Keaveny predicted the Senate's business would be ground to a halt if Republicans ended debate on the matter.

Things are a bit more dire for House Democrats, who don’t have the numbers to stop bills – or prevent most veto overrides. But right to work in particular didn’t have enough votes in the House to withstand a gubernatorial veto, meaning that Democrats may play a particularly large role in that debate if that bill actually makes it to Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk.

Here’s what Keaveny and Hummel said during the show:

  • Keaveny said there is no circumstance where Democratic senators would stop filibustering “right to work.” “It is a no compromise, all hands on deck filibuster right now,” he said.
  • Keaveny also said that using a “previous question” motion would prompt Democrats to slow down other business of the Senate. That’s typically been what’s happened in the past when Republicans use that maneuver.
  • Keaveny gave the Missouri General Assembly a ‘C’ for how they’ve responded to the unrest in Ferguson, adding he’s not sure the legislature “did a whole lot” besides an overhaul of the state’s municipal courts system.
  • If right to work does make it to Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk, Hummel doubts there are enough votes in the House to override – which means there may never be an override attempt in the Missouri Senate.
  • Hummel said Rep. Nick King, R-Clay County, may end up regretting his vote to override legislation limiting the amount of unemployment benefits Missourians can receive. King narrowly won election in a district that includes the Claycomo automobile plant.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Joe Keaveny on Twitter: @joekeaveny

Follow Jake Hummel on Twitter: @JacobHummel

Music: "Turnpike Divides (Daytrotter Edition)" by Thursday

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.