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‘Just buckle your seat belts:’ Missouri legislature opens its 2018 session on Jan. 3

Missouri Statehouse
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio
The Missouri Capitol building.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio reporters joined host Don Marsh to preview the 2018 Missouri legislative session, which opens tomorrow, Jan.3.

Statehouse reporter Marshall Griffin, political reporter Jo Mannies and interim political editor Jason Rosenbaum gave their insights on what to pay attention to in 2018.

What’s the Republican governor’s influence likely to be with a GOP controlled state legislature?

Besides the budget and top bills coming out, Griffin said all eyes will be on paying attention to the working relationship between Gov. Eric Greitens and the Republican leaders.

“It was bit of a rocky journey at times in 2017 and there will be a little bit of rockiness right off the bat [in 2018], especially in the senate, when it comes time to confirm the governor’s choices for the state board of education,” Griffin said.

Mannies said she’s curious to see if common efforts will also get caught in the cross-fire of the fight between Greitens and the GOP state legislature. She said “right to work” was the one common point of agreement between the state legislature and the governor.

Rosenbaum said the source of the tension has to do with Gov. Greitens calling out Republican legislators.

“I don’t think someone like Senator Gary Romine or Senator Rob Schaff appreciate when they’re called out on a particular issue by name, which they were last year,” Rosenbaum said.

Griffin said the tense relations could impact other issues that affect rural Missouri.

“Just buckle you seatbelts,” Griffin said. “[Issues] impacting rural Missouri could lead to some real battles as far as, is Greitens really paying attention to the needs of Missourians?”

What are the chances that legislation will reduce income tax?

Mannies said further income tax cuts coupled with the federal tax cut measure could have a dramatic effect on Missouri’s income. She said some projections estimate the state could lose hundreds of millions of dollars.

“That may end up being an exaggeration, but bottom line is, if you have that climate where there’s a projection of a lot less money, and then you’re talking tax cuts on top of that, you’ve got some swing voters in the middle that may be a little concerned,” she said.

Rosenbaum said it’s important to point out that the Missouri legislature passed an income tax cut in recent years that has yet to take effect.

“That’s not going to be a completely painless situation for revenues,” he said. “But it could be less painless for actual people if they get more money.”

What else will come up?

“Abortion and guns in Missouri legislature always comes up,” Mannies said. “Republicans want to have something to show their base because … they need to get their based revved up.”

One bill proposal would allow people to carry guns in religious institutions without letting religious leaders know who’s armed in the building.

In terms of abortion, legal fights continue to prevent court decisions to expand access in Missouri and from new clinics opening.

Listen for more insights into how healthcare, gun control, income tax, marijuana and more will fare in the upcoming session:


St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.