Missouri senator delays bills to gain support for village law

JEFFERSON CITY | We’ve got a multiple hostage situation in the Missouri Capitol.

Sen. Jack Goodman, a Mt. Vernon Republican, is holding up a series of House bills in the Senate this morning and also delaying action on a major immigration bill in order to force the House to return a clean fix to the controversial village law.

Let’s break it down.

Goodman comes from southwest Missouri, ground zero for the village law change – a measure that was mysteriously slipped into legislation last year allowing landowners to flout county zoning laws by incorporating their property as a village.

It’s never been determined who slipped the language in, but House Speaker Rod Jetton, a Marble Hill Republican, has long been the prime suspect. A wealthy southwest Missouri landowner and friend of Jetton’s was one of the first to take advantage of the new bill.

Goodman introduced a bill to reverse the law first thing this year and now, after languishing for months, it’s finally come up for discussion in House.

The bill, however, has been amended six ways from Sunday and now contains provisions concerning new fees for wireless 911 service, clarifications on liquor licenses, restrictions on sexually oriented businesses and more.

The House is debating the issue now, and adding new amendments all the time.

It’s in this environment that Goodman is taking his hostages.

The Senate took up House consent bills this morning – a long list of uncontroversial and often perfunctory measures that have no fiscal impact on the state.

Goodman, with help from fellow southwest Missouri Sen. Chuck Purgason and others, held up the bills for the whole hour and a half the Senate met this morning and has said he will continue his filibuster this afternoon.

The move is significant not only because it stymies passage of the simple bills, but also because it reduces the time senators have to discuss bigger issues.

As chairman of the Senate’s Fiscal Oversight Committee, Goodman is also slowing progress on an immigration bill . The Senate debated the bill for nine hours last night and could be ready to pass it, but it first must win approval in fiscal oversight.

The committee met this morning, but put off until this afternoon discussion of the immigration bill. When they reconvened, Goodman delayed the vote again – until a meeting after the Senate adjourns this evening.

Goodman’s demands are simple: he wants the village law back in the Senate and completely stripped of amendments.

The senator says he’s been in contact with House leadership over the impasse, but you wouldn’t know it from the debate on the floor.

House lawmakers continue to add on amendments, and show no sign of slowing.

Keep your browser tuned to Prime Buzz, because things are probably only going to get crazier around here until lawmakers adjourn for good at 6 p.m. Friday.