Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Missouri Senate Adjourns; Presidential Primary Bill Saved for Supposed Last Special Session Day on Friday

After threatening earlier in the day to walk out of the Missouri General Assembly special session altogether, the Republican Senate majority came out of recess this evening to announce that it would adjourn until Friday, September 23. At issue was a deal reportedly cut between the state House Republican leadership and Governor Jay Nixon (D) on an economic development package that excluded the Senate Republican leadership input. What this means is that Friday becomes particularly important not only for that specific piece of legislation, but for all the other active bills yet to reconciled between the House and the Senate. That is a list that includes the presidential primary bill.  The pressure is raised even higher for Friday considering that many lawmakers are resistant to the special session extending past that point.

And that translates into a likely whirlwind afternoon and evening session in the Missouri General Assembly to finish up work on the economic package as well as square the differences -- if they exist -- in the chambers' versions of the presidential primary bill. The House has passed a version of HB 3 that shifts the date for the Show Me state presidential primary from February to March but also raises the candidate filing fee in the process. However, there is a Senate amendment to be considered that would eliminate the presidential primary election completely and push for early caucuses by the parties.

Now, it should be noted that the General Assembly had a similar marathon end to the regular session in May. The move of the presidential primary was equally in doubt in conference committee at that time given that committee substitutes to both the House and Senate bills called for the primary, among other things, to be anchored to the the New Hampshire primary, falling a week after the Granite state. In the end, the differences were reconciled in conference and agreed to in both chambers, though the deal was ladened with additional provisions.

The time crunch will potentially produce a similar result on Friday; decreasing the chance of the primary elimination amendment receiving a positive vote before the Senate while also decreasing the chance that the Senate and House enter separate veto sessions to override the Governor Nixon's veto of the regular session bill to move the presidential primary to March (SB 282). The Missouri presidential primary may or may not be moved, but an answer will likely be revealed once and for all on Friday.

In other words, by then it will be known whether Missouri will be stuck on February 7, thus triggering another forward shift in the dates Florida, South Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire and Iowa -- in that order -- are likely to adopt. Oddly enough, that very likely pushes Florida back to January 31 where it was scheduled in the first place before the law was changed earlier in 2011.

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