JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Missouri state senators gaveled in just before noon on Wednesday for the beginning of a special session.
Gov. Mike Parson called this special session to address income tax cuts and extend agricultural tax credits. The session started in the state Senate on Wednesday when over 20 bills were introduced, not all of them pertaining to the call for the special session.
Parson's proposed plan would lower the top tax bracket rate from 5.3% to 4.8%, with Parson saying it will save Missourians more than $700 million per year. However, senators introduced bills that take a variety of different approaches to tax cuts.
With nearly two dozen bills introduced Wednesday, senators still have some work to do if they're going to pass a bill. However, Senate Minority Leader Sen. John Rizzo, a Democrat from Kansas City, points out that lawmakers are not required to pass anything.
"There's nothing in the Constitution that says we have to pass a bill during special session," Rizzo said.
With a newly dissolved conservative caucus, Republicans hope to see party unity this special session.
"We've had a bit of a fraction for several years by frankly, and so I think this is an opportunity for the folks who maybe have been saying, you know, one thing to another side, that this in my opinion I see this as an opportunity for everyone to come back and work together," said Sen. Lincoln Hough, a Republican from Springfield.
However, members of the dissolved caucus introduced bills relating to critical race theory and held the floor discussing transgender school policies.
"Doesn't seem like they're the kumbaya was as long-lasting as maybe some people thought," Rizzo said. "I think that there's just friction within the Republican Party."
All but one of the bills introduced Wednesday are Republican-backed. Rizzo introduced the lone Democratic bill.
"I hope that the tax cuts if there are tax cuts that get done through this are done reasonably and responsibly," Rizzo said.
Senate leadership and the governor have had ongoing discussions about how to approach these tax cuts, but Hough says there are no "concrete" plans yet, even as the special session is underway.
"We had a lot of members who have a lot of ideas on tax policy in this state, and will probably spend the next few weeks trying sorted out," Hough said.