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Covering state lawmakers, bills, and policy emerging from Jefferson City.

Missouri lawmakers keep working on bills despite cloud of Greitens’ indictment

File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers debated and passed several bills this week, even with the ongoing distraction of the indictment of Gov. Eric Greitens.

The first-term Republican faces a May 14 trial date on an of invasion of privacy charge, in which he’s accused of taking a semi-nude photo in 2015 of his then-mistress without her permission. Greitens maintains he’s innocent.

The House on Thursday voted 154-0 on a resolution to authorize a newly created committee to investigate the indictment of the governor, which could lead to impeachment.

Just before that vote, the chamber passed legislation designed to ease regulations on animal owners who have been cleared of abusing pets or livestock. It includes shortening the time authorities have to appear before an animal disposition hearing from 30 days to 10. Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette, opposed the bill.

“We have had a law in place since the early '90s that has worked just fine,” she said. “I think this bill is a solution to something that has not been a problem.”

Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette.
Credit Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio
Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette.

The sponsor, Republican Sonya Anderson of Springfield, disagreed, saying some owners lost custody of their animals because they couldn’t afford to post bond or pay other legal costs.

“It gives the animal owner an opportunity to have his or her animals returned, at no charge, should they be found innocent of (criminal) charges,” she said.

The measure passed 113-42.

The Missouri Senate passed and gave initial approval to several bills this week. They include a measure that would block an attempt to ban horse-drawn carriage rides in St. Louis but allow the city to pass more regulations on their use. It’s now in the hands of the House.

But the upper chamber was again delayed by a filibuster, this time on a bill designed to curb the number of lawsuits filed in Missouri involving incidents that happened in other states. Plus, Republican Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph and Democrat Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City are threatening to slow down the Senate by speaking for four minutes on every motion made on the floor.

Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said it’s their right to do so. However, he added: “It’s up to the body, as I told Sen. Schaaf in an inquiry, how we proceed when those kind of threats are made, but it’s not probably the best thing for the relationships in the (Senate) body, and that’s all that I hope they keep in mind.”

Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City.
Credit Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City.

The two Senators have expressed frustration on several issues, ranging from Schaaf’s opposition to a recently passed utility bill to the failure of Chappelle-Nadal’s bills on environmental cleanup to make it to the governor’s desk. Chappelle-Nadal has also voiced disappointment over the body’s vote last fall to censure her for a now-deleted Facebook message in which she wished that someone would assassinate President Trump.

The Senate may resume work next week on legalizing hemp for industrial use, while the House may take up a bill requiring non-union workers to be paid the same rate as union members on public projects, commonly known as the prevailing wage.

And on Thursday, Gov. Greitens signed the first bill of 2018 into law. It requires anti-human trafficking posters, which would contain a national hotline phone number displayed at airports, train and bus stations, strip clubs and any business with prior citations for prostitution. The new law requires the posters to be in place by March 1, 2019.

Follow Marshall on Twitter:@MarshallGReport

Copyright 2018 St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.