Legislature starts 2014 session on note of partisan divide

By State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri’s legislative session started with a partisan speech from the GOP house speaker, who accused the Democratic governor of failing to lead and then cited a list of issues that Democrats oppose.

“In Missouri, our governor has stood in the way of significant legislation that would provide growth and opportunity for all Missourians,” said Rep. Tim Jones, R-St. Louis County. “Our governor has said no to lower taxes and policies that would create a vibrant business environment.”

Jones called for passage of the sweeping package of tax cuts Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed last year.

He also endorsed “right-to-work” legislation to prevent all-union shops, limits on liability lawsuits and easing government regulations over business.

The speaker made no reference to the two top issues that have been pushed by Nixon — Medicaid expansion and imposing limits on campaign contributions.

House Democratic Leader Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis City, charged Jones with posturing for his expected 2016 campaign for attorney general.

Hummel expressed disappointment the bipartisan spirit during the December special session had been lost.

“We came together in a bipartisan fashion. We were working on creating jobs in this state. And it shows we can do it,” Hummel said. “That’s what people in Missouri want. They don’t want this political rancor.”

A friendlier, more bipartisan tone was sounded in the Senate, where the chamber’s two top GOP leaders held a joint news conference with the Democratic Senate leader. Both sides promised bipartisan cooperation.

One day later, Nixon played down the significance of Jones’ attack.

“I think our system of government is designed to have tension in it,” Nixon said. “The real magic of government is to take that tension and use that for action and not to use that tension as an excuse to not move forward.”

Nixon indicated that he would be receptive to some sort of tax cut that is targeted to create jobs and is affordable.