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Legislature Reform Plan

    Reforming the Missouri Legislative Process - Details

The Principles

  • All political power resides in the people. They LOAN that power to their elected representatives who to be are stewards of that power and must truly represent their constituents.

  • Political power should NOT be concentrated in a few hands, but should be distributed evenly among the originators and representatives of that power. (e.g. “one man, one vote”).

  • Subject to the constraints in the Constitution, the majority will of a representative body rules.

The Problem

  • Only a few of the People's representatives – those in leadership – set the legislative agenda and the rest are relegated, at best, to vote yea or nay. Their constituents are, therefore, not truly represented.

    • Most representatives' only hope of enacting legislation is to attach it to a bill that has the blessing of the few in leadership positions.

    • The net result are bills with overwhelming support from the entire body that never really have a chance. An example from the 2020 session is HB 1637, the Second Amendment Preservation Act, which had 87 sponsors but was prevented by leadership from even making it to the floor for debate. (It takes 83 votes to pass the House.)

    • The current system also results in passage of unconstitutional multiple subject omnibus bills with elements that don't truly have the support of a majority of the people's representatives, since their only hope of getting their piece of the bill passed is to vote in favor of the whole thing.

  • The top down power structure of the Senate and House concentrates power in the hands of just a few in leadership – especially the President Pro Tem of the Senate, Speaker of the House and Majority floor leaders.

    • The Speaker and Pro Tem have ultimate power over the selection of committee chairmanships and assignment to committees.

    • Chairmen who displease the Speaker or Pro Tem can be removed from their positions.

    • Members of committees who vote their conscience or with their constituents instead of the way the leadership wants can be removed from the committee and replaced by someone who will toe the line. (This is more of a problem in the House.)

  • Just a few in leadership have total control over the flow of legislation.

    • Although they can't always force the passage of bills, they have the absolute power to stop any bill that does not suit their agenda.

    • The Speaker can hold onto filed bills until it is impossible for them to even be considered by the body.

    • The Speaker and Pro Tem can assign bills to committees they think will do their will.

    • Chairmen of committees can stop even the most popular bills by preventing or delaying hearings and votes. They can also withhold bills that have been recommended by committee members to “do pass” from the whole body for consideration – often at the direction of the Speaker.

    • The Floor Leaders control whether a bill that has made it through the committee process gets to the floor for the whole body to consider, regardless of how much support the bill has from the whole body.

  • The concentrated power of the House and Senate invites corruption and empowers special interests.

    • Special interests often need not appeal to the whole body, they can influence the few in leadership to accomplish their goals.

    • One need only to examine whose campaigns get the most special interest monetary support to see where the power is. Most of the big money is used to directly or indirectly affect the few in leadership.

The Solution – give every representative, and their constituents, an equal say.

  • Committee Assignments

    • Committee membership should be selected by random lottery. Legislators should be permitted to make a specified number of “bids” for committees of his or her choice and the members randomly selected from among those desiring to serve on a given committee.

    • The lottery process would be performed separately for each party to maintain proportional representation in each committee.

    • The lottery process would take into account tenure, so each committee would include both more and less experienced legislators.

    • Committee members could only be removed for misconduct which would require a super-majority vote of the committee, no longer by displeased leadership.

  • Selection of Committee Chairman.

    • The members of a given committee would select their own chairman.

    • Only the members of a given committee could remove their own chairman.

  • Assignment of Bills to Committees

    • A committee made up of the chairmen of all the committees would decide which committee bills are assigned to.

    • All bills must be promptly assigned to committees. A set number per week should be required, with more per week in the first days of session.

    • The bills with the most cosponsors at the time the Committee of Chairmen meet shall be assigned to committee first.

  • Advance of Bills Through Committees

    • Bills with the most cosponsors shall receive hearings and other considerations first.

    • Any committee member can move to take up a bill for hearing, executive session, or do pass vote, providing the bill sponsor has requested such action and bills with the most cosponsors are given first consideration.

    • All bills will be reported out of committee within 24 hours of either a do pass or do not pass vote.

  • Bills on the Calendar

    • Bills shall be placed on the calendar upon a do pass vote and written request of the bill sponsor.

    • Bills shall be taken up for perfection in an order based on the number of cosponsors.

    • Bills shall be taken up for third read upon request of the sponsor or sponsor's proxy based on the number of cosponsors. (A bill can advance to a final vote only with the approval of the sponsor.)

  • Presentment of Bills to the Governor

    • Every bill that is truly agreed to and finally passed prior to the fifteenth day preceding the last day of the legislative session shall be presented to the governor that same day.

    • The presentment requirement may be suspended upon majority vote by both chambers.

  • Cosponsorship of Bills

    • Each member of the House and Senate shall permitted to cosponsor limited prescribed number of bills.

    • Cosponsorship may be withdrawn at any time.

    • Withdrawn cosponsorships may not be reused after an action is taken on the bill it was originally used on.

    • An additional allotment of a prescribed number of cosponsorships shall be provided each member after spring break.








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