The results of the August 2 Primary election held a few surprises, none being bigger than incumbent Senator Bill White (R-Joplin), losing to political newcomer Jill Carter. Her victory was the hallmark of the Senate’s Conservative Caucus efforts to grow their numbers in the upper chamber. They also saw victories in other races around the state, including Mary Elizabeth Coleman in SD 22 in Jefferson County, Nick Schroer in SD 2 in St. Charles County, and Ben Brown in the 26th district which runs from western St. Louis County to Osage County. The growing numbers of elected Senators rumored to be aligning with the Conservative Caucus left many Capitol concerned the dysfunction in 2023 would top last year’s dysfunction.
The biggest surprise, however, came nearly two weeks after the election, when members of the Conservative Caucus announced they were disbanding. Excerpts from their press release are as follows:
“On August 2nd, 2022, the Republican Primary electorate decisively voted in favor of the conservative message espoused by Conservative Caucus-aligned Republicans—support for the Party platform and accountability for votes taken…. As such, we believe the time has come to seek unity within a single majority caucus in the Missouri Senate chamber under exclusively the Republican banner…. The best way to now accomplish these objectives is through a new coalition of leadership within the Republican Senate majority that is not constrained by the labels of the past. Such a change is necessary to achieve peace within a body that has seen little of it since the final legislative day of the 2021 First Regular Session…. Therefore, effective immediately, we must disband even the informal designation of “Conservative Caucus” or any other label that separates us from the single Republican majority that holds a supermajority in the Missouri Senate. We are committed to forming a new leadership coalition with any Senator that is ready to prioritize the passage of major Republican policy above a desire for continued conflict.”
While no one knows for certain what this means for the future of the Senate, it surely makes it easier for individual Senators to align themselves with Conservative Caucus beliefs, while not being labeled as belonging to a group intent on obstructing progress. It also sets up the opportunity for former members of the Conservative Caucus to make a play for leadership positions within the Senate.
In other news, Governor Mike Parson will likely set the date of a special legislative session to begin the first part of September and run concurrent with the upcoming veto. As of press time for this newsletter, the Governor had not officially made the call, but it was expected within days. As you will recall, Parson has announced his intent to pass a massive tax cut for Missourian’s, based on the recent record setting revenues in the state coffers. This comes on the heels of his veto of a legislative proposal to give certain taxpayers a one-time tax credit of up to $500. Parson’s proposal puts in place a permanent, across the board tax cut. Additionally, he intends for legislators to renew certain agricultural tax credit programs for a six-year period instead of the tow- year extension they passed during the last legislative session.
Next up on the legislative calendar is the constitutionally mandated veto session on September 14, followed by the General Election on November 8. At this point, we are not aware of any effort by legislators to override any of Parson’s vetoes. We appreciate the opportunity to represent you in Jefferson City and will keep you updated on all the news in the political world as it occurs.
Nikki Strong, Strong Consulting Group.