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Gov. Greitens' Special Sessions: Truly Special?

Missouri legislators may be spending much of their summer vacations in Jefferson City. (David Mark/Pixabay)
Missouri legislators may be spending much of their summer vacations in Jefferson City. (David Mark/Pixabay)
June 6, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri state legislators have already been called back to Jefferson City for one special session and Gov. Eric Greitens says he's "canceling their summer vacations," indicating he may call them back for more.

But the word "special" is open to interpretation. The governor or the Legislature itself can call a special session on virtually any matter, as long as it's defined in advance.

University of Missouri-Kansas City political science professor Greg Vonnhame says the recently-concluded special session cost taxpayers approximately $66,000.

"In the grand scheme of things, you know, for about a $30-billion state budget - that's not an extraordinary share of the state budget if there's really an important issue that needs to be addressed," he says.

According to Vonnhame, it is debatable whether the session - which authorized a special electricity rate for two companies - was that important.

Gov. Greitens says there are plenty of topics that would justify a special session and he's leaving his options open.

But there can be political costs of calling special sessions, Vonnhame notes, regardless of the financial tally.

"Politically it doesn't look great for the legislature if more taxpayer dollars are being spent on a legislature when the question is - if this needed to be done, why wasn't it done in the five months of the regular session," he questions.

Missouri state senators have said they should only be called back again for urgent matters. Vonnhame says it's surprising that the new Republican governor has been so critical of the amount of work done by a legislature controlled by his own party.

Kevin Patrick Allen/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - MO