The Missouri Senate was in session this week, but no roll call was required. There would not have been many senators on hand to respond. In truth, just one elected member of the Senate was in the chamber for the business before the body. Only the Senate’s president pro tem was needed to fulfill the constitutional requirement that bills be signed by the presiding officer prior to legislation being forwarded to the governor.
The last day for consideration of bills in the Missouri Legislature was May 17, but the body’s work was not complete on that day. The Missouri Constitution says that all bills must be signed during an open session of the Legislature. And so, on a Wednesday afternoon, one day prior to the mandated adjournment “sine die” – meaning no future date of meeting is assigned – the leader of the Missouri Senate pounded the gavel at the dais, called the session to order and then proceeded to a side table with pen in hand.
With the Senate secretary and her staff standing by, and a handful of staff members watching, the president pro tem put his signature to 44 previously unsigned, truly agreed to and passed, pieces of legislation that originated in the Senate. The signed bills were then carried to the far end of the Capitol’s third floor where the speaker of the House of Representatives presided over a similar ritual.
The lone legislator and Senate staff gathered in the chamber while they waited for signed House bills to arrive. In time, copies of legislation that began in the House were delivered and the process was repeated with 46 more signatures.
Just 29 minutes after calling the day’s session to order, the president pro tem returned to the dais, pounded his gavel again and declared the First Regular Session of the 100th General Assembly of the State of Missouri complete. The stack of bills approved by the Legislature now go to the governor for his review. With the Legislature adjourned, the governor must approve or reject the bills within 45 days.