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Special Session Underway

September 8, 2003
By: Thomas Warren and Matthew Lunders
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri legislature's special session had a short beginning for it's opening day Monday. Gov. Bob Holden called for the special session to close four relatively small tax exemptions.

The governor's plan was introduced by Democrats in both the House and Senate. But neither chamber did much else.

After fielding a few questions about the schedule from Minority Leader Mark Abel, D-Festus, House adjourned until noon Tuesday.

The House's short session was not a surprise to representatives, who expect most of the special session's issues to be brought up in the Senate.

"The House will be anticlimactic this week," said Rep. Jeff Harris, D-Columbia. "The real action will be in the Senate."

The Senate lasted only a little longer -- but still less than one-half-hour.

The chamber's senior member -- Sen. Wayne Goode, D-St. Louis County -- introduced the governor's package, but conceded it had an uphill change in the GOP-controlled legislature.

On the other hand, the Senate's top leader gave some, although little, hope that the bill might pass.

"The governor's become somewhat more reasonable in his requests," said Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau. "Let me say the door is not slammed shut."

However, the bill first must pass through the Ways and Means Committee chaired by Sen. Carl Vogel, R-Jefferson City.

Vogel gave the governor's plan little chance. "If there were a vote on (the motion), it would probably fail."

House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, R-St. Louis County, was even more critical of the governor's decision to call lawmakers back in another effort to raise taxes.

"I think we should stop being called back here for special sessions...and let the interim committees do their work."

Both chambers of the legislature will convene Tuesday to assign the tax bills to committee. The following day, Wednesday, lawmakers will hold a meeting of both the special session as well as the veto session that starts on Wednesday.

In the veto session, the Gov. Holden's vetoes on a 24-hour waiting period for abortions and permission for Missourians to carry concealed weapons will first be reviewed in the House.