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Missouri lawmakers balance regular business with observing Greitens’ legal battles

vinwim | Flickr
The Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, 2014

With four weeks left in the legislative session, Missouri lawmakers are running out of time to pass bills while keeping an eye on the legal battles involving Gov. Eric Greitens.

On Thursday, the Missouri House passed its version of a tax cut plan 91-61. The bill would lower the state income tax rate to 5 percent for both individuals and businesses, exclude elderly renters from using a housing tax break known commonly as the circuit breaker, and raise fees on vehicles to provide more money for roads and bridges.

“It came on with an amendment to delay the implementation for one year,” said it’s sponsor House Speaker Pro-tem Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield.

“We’re very hopeful and optimistic, we’ve got a month left of session, and we’re going to send it over to the Senate and see what kind of discussions we can have with them.”

The Senate debated its version of the tax cut Thursday, but delayed taking a final vote.

The upper chamber confirmed one of Greitens’ appointees to the Missouri Ethics Commission – former Democratic State Rep. Wayne Henke of Troy. Republican Senate President Pro-tem Ron Richard supports Henke, and said he’s not worried about any attempts by the governor to stack the commission with so-called “yes” men.

“You have to understand who’s chair of gubernatorial appointments – that’s me,” Richard told reporters Thursday. “I will not allow packed boards and commissions without advise-and-consent or a severe cross-examining.”

Critics have accused Greitens of stacking boards and commissions with people who’ve either agreed ahead of time, or who found out after the fact, to vote on issues the way the governor wants. Henke will actually get to vote on an ethics complaint filed against the governor.

Richard praised Henke’s past record as a lawmaker and believes he will vote his conscience.

“I was very direct with [Henke],” Richard said. “He’s given me his word, and he always kept his word in the House, that he will do the best job he can and be as bipartisan as he can.”

Next week, the full Senate is scheduled to debate and vote on next year’s state budget, after which negotiators from both chambers have to craft a final version and send it to the governor by May 11.

Meanwhile, the House committee investigating Gov. Greitens is holding more closed-door meetings next week.

Follow Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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