Filibuster on unemployment benefits bill still looms in Senate

With seven weeks to go, Missouri lawmakers face a number of major issues this spring, before the state Constitution requires them to cease business at 6 p.m. May 13.

They include the budget for the business year beginning July 1, congressional redistricting and a several proposals to rewrite.

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  • Last fall’s voter-approved anti-Puppy Mill law.
  • The minimum wage law voters adopted in 2008.
  • State labor laws so no one is forced to join a union or pay union dues, overturning the voters’ rejection of a Right to Work proposal in 1978.
  • The 1976 voter-passed law that prohibits investor-owned utilities from charging consumers for power plant constructionwork-in-progress. But, while the Legislature’s Republican leaders remain optimistic of passing their agenda this spring, some issues could be problematic. And reporters keep asking — so far with no definitive answers — whether the Senate leadership will force a vote to end debate on some of the controversies, by invoking the “previous question.”

It’s a procedure used regularly in the House, but rarely in the Senate where lengthy discussions - and vote-blocking filibusters - are a main part of the tradition.

In the spotlight is a House-passed bill using federal stimulus money to extend unemployment benefits for another 20 weeks - up to 99 weeks’ assistance for those who are out-of-work — ran into opposition from several Senate Republicans.

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