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MO Legislators Start Second Special Session, Amid Grumbling

The State Capitol is home away from home for Missouri lawmakers this summer as they begin their second special session in as many months. (Wikipedia)
The State Capitol is home away from home for Missouri lawmakers this summer as they begin their second special session in as many months. (Wikipedia)
June 12, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Special sessions of the Missouri Legislature are typically reserved for emergency budget matters, but that isn't the case this year.

State lawmakers are back in session today to address abortion-related issues, including a St. Louis ordinance banning discrimination in housing or employment based on a woman's "pregnancy and reproductive health decisions.” They were called into special session in May by Gov. Eric Greitens to debate a possible utility rate reduction for two employers.

University of Missouri Law School Professor Richard Reuben said neither topic falls into the category of true emergency.

"Instead, to me they suggest that Gov. Greitens is using his authority to call a special session simply to further his own political agenda,” Reuben said. “And I think that's a highly questionable use."

But Republican Sen. Bob Onder, who represents parts of suburban St. Louis, has said "No greater issue fits the category of 'extraordinary' than the safety of Missourians and the protection of life.”

Opponents of the St. Louis ordinance say it penalizes local businesses that want to hire only workers who are anti-abortion.

Gov. Greitens, whose party has majorities in both houses of the Legislature, has told lawmakers he's "cancelling their summer vacations." Reuben said it's a move that's getting a mixed reaction.

"While he clearly has the authority to do so, the question in my mind - and, I think, the minds of a lot of people in Missouri - is whether he is abusing that authority,” Reuben said.

The last special session in Missouri cost taxpayers $66,000.

Kevin Patrick Allen, Public News Service - MO