JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Republicans control the Missouri Senate. But so far, they also have been part of the opposition, preventing votes on some legislation favored by Senate leaders while heavily outnumbered Democrats have opted to condemn but generally not to delay the GOP-backed bills.
That has meant the protracted policy and political fights that regularly surface in the state Senate generally have pitted Republican senators against fellow Republicans, with Democrats sometimes participating but not leading efforts to bog down the chamber and prevent votes on disfavored measures.
Instead, with just eight seats in the 34-member chamber, the Democrats essentially have been saving their political capital.
And rather than block votes, Democrats have suggested changes while offering sometimes stinging commentary.
“You can’t get up on every issue when you’re in the minority,” said Sen. Tim Green, D-St. Louis. “So you pick the ones you’re most passionate about to use your abilities and the process.”
Democrats this week likely will need to decide whether to start spending some of the political capital in their accounts.
Senate leaders said they planned to start debate Monday on legislation that would make Missouri a so-called “right-to-work” state by prohibiting workers from being forced to pay dues, fees or assessments to labor organizations.
Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer has said the proposal is important to him, and it is backed by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Proponents say the legislation could help to make the state more attractive for manufacturing and other industries.
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