(Missourinet) Missouri Senate Republicans are expected to finish three days of caucusing Thursday in St. Louis.
Republicans will control the chamber 24-10 in January. Incoming Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, says his agenda will be caucus-driven.
“A person put in the pro tem position, it’s not necessarily, does not become your priorities, it becomes the caucus priorities and ushering those priorities through the process,” Schatz says.
The Senate president pro tem is responsible for appointing committee members and assigning legislation to committees, in addition to ruling on points of order in the Senate.
Senator Schatz says transportation will always be an issue in Missouri, until the problem is resolved.
He sponsored a proposed ten-cent gasoline tax increase this year. Proposition D failed statewide by about 173,000 votes last week.
“We’re going sit down I think at some point in time with Governor (Mike) Parson, (and) the leadership of the House, and we’re going to try to figure out just exactly how we go forward on this particular issue,” says Schatz.
Missouri’s 17-cent gasoline tax has remained the same since 1996.
Schatz says workforce development and infrastructure will be two top priorities for Senate Republicans. Job creation and changes to liability lawsuits are expected to be other top issues.
Republicans have nominated Schatz to be pro tem. The formal election will take place in January when the full Senate returns to Jefferson City.
Schatz tells Missourinet he’s developed a good relationship with Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh, D-Bellefontaine Neighbors, during the past four years. He says while they don’t always agree on policy, they respect each other.
“We respect each other’s opinion and we work together on issues to come and compromise on things like prevailing wage and other issues like that,” Schatz says.
Schatz defeated Democrat John Kiehne last week to win his second and final four-year term in the Missouri Senate. His district includes eastern Missouri’s Franklin and parts of west St. Louis County.
Schatz is the first Senate President Pro Tem in Missouri history to be from Sullivan, and believes he’s the first state senator from Sullivan as well.
Senate Republicans have been caucusing in St. Louis since Tuesday afternoon, evaluating what they worked on in 2018 and mapping out priorities for 2019.
Schatz says they’ve also been hearing reports from committee chairs.
Republicans will control the Missouri House 116-47, when the 2019 session begins on January 9. House Speaker-designee Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, notes 116 seats is larger than a supermajority.