Sen. Gary Romine’s Capitol Update: 2017 Legislative Session Down to Final Four Weeks

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It is hard to believe, but we’re now down to the final four weeks of the 2017 legislative session. When compared to some of the other weeks we’ve had and the ones we’re likely still to have, this one was relatively quiet. With the better part of five Senate sessions now behind me, it seems as though each session tends to more or less follow the same pattern. We have an intense start, where floor debate and committee work is dominated by caucus priorities. Then, usually right about now, we move into a short period where the Senate’s focus shifts to the budget process, and we get the chance to clean up remaining legislation and focus on more personal legislative priorities.

This week, the Senate passed a variety of legislation, including measures pertaining to education, app-based ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft, and a senior nutrition farmers’ market program. We also took some time to consider and pass Senate Bill 376, designating “Old Drum” as the historical dog of the state of Missouri. For those who’ve never heard of Old Drum, the following excerpt from the secretary of state’s website briefly addresses his story and 1870 court case:

“The story of the Burden v. Hornsby trial, involving the untimely death of a black and tan hound dog named Old Drum, comprises people and events that have become more legend than fact. Yet, the Burden v. Hornsby trial, or the Old Drum trial as it came to be known, is a true story well-documented through court records progressing from a Justice of the Peace to a final appeal before the Supreme Court of Missouri.”

In his introductory remarks on SB 376, the senator from the 21st District mentioned how the Old Drum bill isn’t just about the story of “Man’s Best Friend”; it’s about the history of our state. It’s about the first time Union and Confederate attorneys came together to argue a case. It is about remembering where the well-known “Eulogy of the Dog” speech originated. It is also about promoting tourism and economic development in the Warrensburg area, which is known as the “Home of Man’s Best Friend” and also happens to be the home of my alma mater: Central Missouri State University, now the University of Central Missouri.

While lawmakers sometimes get criticized for spending time on legislation that isn’t necessarily seen as critical or urgent, I believe a measure like the Old Drum bill do serve a purpose. Whether highlighting a historic event or naming a state symbol, these bills tend to not be too controversial in nature, giving me and my colleagues a chance to have some more good-humored, nonpartisan discussion — something that’s too often in short supply in today’s world of politics and government. In between debating serious, complex measures, these bills give us a chance to slow down for a minute and focus on something we can all generally support.

In other news, I briefly mentioned in last week’s report that the Fiscal Year 2018 budget bills have finally made it over from the House. Because lawmakers received the governor’s proposed budget later than normally happens, we’re slightly under the gun to pass an on-time and balanced budget before the May 5 constitutional deadline.

Pictured above: Senator Romine and his staff with Clark the bald eagle Wednesday, April 12. Clark was brought to the Capitol by the World Bird Sanctuary as part of the Conservation Federation of Missouri’s annual Conservation Day.

Since the Senate received the budget, the Senate Appropriations Committee has been holding hearings on each of the budget bills. After we make any changes we feel are necessary, the budget bills will go before the full Senate body for further deliberation. Once adopted, the bills will be returned to the House, where they will either be accepted or, if not, conference committees will be formed to reconcile any differences. Once a final budget has been agreed upon, it will be sent to the governor for his consideration.

Also this week, the annual legislative charity softball tournament was held Wednesday evening, with proceeds going to support the Samaritan Center. As always, it was a great chance to spend time with colleagues outside of the Capitol while raising money for a very worthy cause. My staff and I were also able to sneak in a photo with a bald eagle named Clark. The World Bird Sanctuary brought Clark to the Capitol as part of Conservation Federation of Missouri’s annual Conservation Day at the Capitol.

And last but certainly not least, my staff and I were happy to welcome the following guests at the Capitol office this week: Paula Arbuthnot, of DeSoto; Lance Mayfield, of Viburnum; Linda Lyons from Desoto, who was visiting with the Sierra Club to discuss solar energy issues; Sherry Weisel, of Desloge; James Copeland, the St. Francois County Coroner; and Josh Carter and Jennifer Lee, who were both here for Young Bankers Day at the Capitol.

Contact Me

 I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4008. You may write me at Gary Romine, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101; or email me at