A video of yesterday’s House Democratic Caucus end of session press conference provided by the Missouri House Communications Office:
Representative Jacob Hummel (D), House Minority Leader: Um, you know, we’ve had, uh, we have now historic Republican super majorities and historic dysfunction. Um, it’s been a rough couple of days, um, some personal failings on the part of the Speaker [John Diehl]. Um, you know, I think he did the right thing. He needed to go. He went. I look forward to working with, uh, Speaker Richardson. Um, I think he’s a man of integrity and, uh, hopefully we can work together on some issues in the future and actually get some good things accomplished for the State of Missouri.
Um, I think that we’ve seen that the majority seems to have an agenda of cruelty, uh, towards poor people, poor children especially, um, we’ve eliminated local control, uh, we’ve hurt working families with right to work, we’ve cut unemployment benefits to the lowest in any state in the nation, uh, we’ve failed again to expand Medicaid, we’ve left billions of dollars on the table, we have still yet again failed to pass any type of ethics reform, um, we have failed to properly address Ferguson, Uh, we did pass Senate Bill 5 which made some important and, uh, needed reforms but by treating St. Louis County differently, uh, we’ve put the constitutionality of the bill into question. Um, once again, we’ve also failed to pass a clean [school] transfer fix. All we’ve actually passed is an expansion of charter schools. Um, that’s actually all I can think of that’s been done. So, happy to take any questions.
Question: With the deadly force bill there seems there’s some disagreement in the Democratic caucus about what it would actually address in the issue of deadly force by police officers. Do you think that was a needed change that needed to happen this session?
Representative Hummel (D): Um, I think that public perception is that change needed to happen. Absolutely.
Question: Was that language sufficient?
Representative Hummel (D): I don’t know that it was sufficient, but it was a step in the right direction.
Question: You mentioned ethics reform did not get passed. Um, how serious was the effort to pass that [inaudible]?
Representative Hummel (D): Uh, I believe what I told, uh, a few reporters, uh, a couple of weeks ago that was, that both sides would probably blame the other side for not getting the bill done. I’ve proven that I was absolutely correct in my prediction that they would pretend to get something done and then never actually get anything done.
Question: Also, uh, Speaker Richardson says that some of his caucus have said they want to look at rules regarding interns for anything that can be done with the situation with the former Speaker.
Representative Hummel (D): Sure. Absolutely.
Question: Uh, do you have a plan on that, or what are you gonna [crosstalk]?
Representative Hummel (D): Actually, we talked about that, uh, obviously, over the last few days. And, uh, I appreciate Speaker, Speaker Richardson saying that. Um, and I look forward to working with him on that over the interim. And hopefully we can do a joint committee. I know that on both sides of the aisle this is a bipartisan issue that needs to be fixed and I look forward to working with him on that.
Question: Speaker Richardson said that he wanted new, uh, a revised policy in place by the time the legislature comes back in January. So, most likely I’m assuming that’s gonna by something you’re gonna be working on throughout the summer.
Representative Hummel (D): Yeah, that, that’s our hope and, and I plan on, uh, getting with him shortly to, uh, see what we can do to work together.
Question: To those thousands that were protesting in Ferguson, um, what do you say to them about a legislature that did not deal with the specific issue that they were raising of police shooting [inaudible] black man?
Representative Hummel (D): I think that the legislature failed them.
Question: And what can the legislature, what can you guys do to prevent that failure next year?
Representative Hummel (D): Well, for one, we could get some of our bills referred to committee. Um, we could get some of the bills heard, some of them actually voted on. Brandon, [Representative] Brandon Ellengton, uh, representative from Kansas City, is chair of the Black Caucus. Brandon, would you like to address that?
Representative Brandon Ellington (D): Yeah, hopefully next year with our new Speaker we can actually work on some of these bills. Uh, we had over sixty bills that was related to police, uh, uh, police misconduct or, or police reform. None of those bills made it out of committee. Uh, the last Speaker that was here said we would not have a Ferguson agenda and he guaranteed that none of the bills moved out of the committee. Uh, so I look forward to actually working with, uh, uh, Speaker Richardson to address these issues. But like, uh, the Minority Leader said, we have to get these bills moved. And currently the way the system is set up it’s all on the majority to make sure our bills can move or they can kill our bills.
Question: [inaudible] You had another, uh, part of a bridge close in, uh, Kansas City just recently. Uh, what will it take for the legislature to pass something transportation related? And what can be done?
Representative Hummel (D): I think, well, I, I think that we were actually moving in a direction, um, I, I think there was Senator Schaaf (r) I believe and a few others that were filibustering that in the Senate. I don’t think there’s any question that something needs to be done. Um, what that level is I don’t know. Um, I would have voted for the gas tax increase. I think that was the responsible thing to do. Uh, I mean, certainly I think some people would be willing to look at toll roads. Uh, there has to be some combination of funding, um, we just are not going to be able to maintain, uh, the roadways that we have.
Question: Does the Governor have any responsibility for coming up with a proposal, a comprehensive proposal?
Representative Hummel (D): You know, it’s, I, I can’t speak for the Governor but it was my understanding that, that, uh, a deal, or compromise was reached, after that debate, after that filibuster and because of what happened with right to work in the Senate, uh, the Senate imploded, um, which they knew was going to happen. Uh, I know that, uh, Leader, uh, Richards said that that was his agenda and that was more important so I guess he got his way. Um, and as a result Missouri is not able to fund their roadways.
Question: Well, that bill was a tenth of what the Transportation Department says it needs. Who’s responsible for coming up with a half a billion dollar or more total transportation package that the department says it needs or roads continue to crumble, bridges continue to be closed?
Representative Hummel (D): Obviously it’s the legislature’s job to, to enact that change.
Question: Are the Democrats gonna come up with a plan for the next session?
Representative Hummel (D): I would raise the gas tax.
Question: Well, back in two thousand eight the Governor flatly said he wasn’t gonna raise taxes. And he talked in two thousand twelve about how he didn’t raise taxes [Representative Hummel (D): “Okay.”] and then in two thousand fourteen he didn’t support the sales tax hike. So, doesn’t the Governor bear a little bit of responsibility by painting himself in a corner like a year before he’s leaving office instead of like before the crisis occurred?
Representative Hummel (D): I mean, I, I can’t speak for the Governor. I think, uh, I think at least right now he seems to be, uh, in favor of some type of gas tax hike, um, or at least some combination of, of fix. So, I, I think he’s at least moving in the right direction now. I can’t speak for his previous, uh, previous stances, but, uh, I mean, at the same time, let’s be honest, the legislature creates the legislation. We file the bills. Nothing’s been done.
Question: What is your reaction to the House basically stripping off provisions they did not like in bills they passed today because of the Senate’s inaction?
Representative Hummel (D): Well, I mean, I don’t believe that they stripped them off because they didn’t like them. I think they stripped them off because they had no [crosstalk], because they had no other choice. Um, I think that you can ask, uh, Senator [Ron] Richard. It was his idea, he decided that that one piece of legislation that he knows is not going to become law, uh, would destroy the Senate. He was right and he got what he wanted. Blame lies at his feet.
Question: Can the Senate in your opinion, um, take up the veto override of the unemployment comp bill that the House overrode?
Representative Hummel (D): No, I don’t think they can.
Question: Missouri state workers have been asking for a pay raise for years. Uh, you guys have mentioned you’ve had a plan but haven’t given details. Do you have any plans on that?
Representative Hummel (D): Well, I think next year we’ve, a, a few of us have talked, uh, and we plan to file legislation to increase worker pay. Um, there’s, every year we hear of, there’s going to be a different study, there’s going to be a different study. Missouri workers are the lowest paid in the state, in this country. Um, we need to move the needle. We’ll look at, we will be filing legislation next year to address that.
Okay. Thank you. Thanks everybody. Thanks for a good session.