Beginnings at the End

The last days of the 95th Missouri General Assembly signal the beginning of the 2011 legislative session, the 96th General Assembly.

About one-third of the members of the legislature who return to the Capitol on September 15 will be spending the last days of their lives as Representatives or Senators. Term limits have denied their constituents the chance to re-elect many of them. Others lost primaries or did not run for another office.

But in the brief time they’ll be in Jefferson City for the veto session, some of those lawmakers will be discussing issues their successors will take up next year. Several legislative committees will be meeting on the 14th and the 15th.

The Joint Committee on Education meets Tuesday afternoon, the 14th. The Joint Committee on Public Employee Retirement, meets later that afternoon. And later still, the Joint Committee on Tax Policy gathers to talk about Streamlined Sales and Use Taxes—a phrase often used to refer to collection of sales taxes on interstate sales.

Lawmakers decide on Wednesday the 15th if any of the Governor’s vetoes will be overridden. There weren’t many bills passed in the regular session and few vetoes, so the sessions in the House and the Senate are likely to be dominated by farewell speeches and ceremonies.

Once all of that is done, the Senate Committee on Educated Citizenry 2020 meets and the Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight gathers to talk about the search for a new state transportation director and some other things.

The committee meetings during the veto session are generally the kickoff to the committee season, if you will, that will increasingly focus on developing legislation for 2011, giving us an idea of some of the key issues for the next session and some of the positions lawmakers will take on them.

Days after the November elections, present and future lawmakers will be in the Capitol to pick the new leaders of the chambers for 2011-2012. A few more committee meetings in November and December and then we’re back in the sausage-making business in January.

It will be cold then. We can’t play outside. So we might as well go indoors for a few months and watch the legislature make some new laws and see then what and who the November voters hath wrought.

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