|▴ Chamber: Description
The role calls cover only significant, news worthy votes for which there is a clear issue. Excluded are votes on amendments or substitutes which contain a laundry-list of topics making it impossible to discern the issue upon which legislators actually were voting and also making it impossible to write a simple description on what the vote was about.
Unfortunately, the legislature has begun routinely passing these omnibus, multi-subject amendments and substitutes that are in clear violation of the state Supreme Court's decisions affirming a constitutional provisions restricting bills to a single subject and prohibiting changing the original purpose of a bill.
The descriptions of the votes are written by MDN's director, Phill Brooks, who has covered the legislature for one-half century, making him dean of the statehouse press corps.
The first click will display the list in descending order of the category. A second click of the same button will display the list in ascending order. When you first load VOTES.HTM or call up a new year, the vote list wil be in descending order by date, with the latest vote for that year at the top.
The sort-order of the column you selected is identified by the arrow in the button. ↓ indicates a descending order while ↑ indicates an ascending order.
The Date button sorts the list in numerical order, putting the latest vote at the top in descending order.
The Chamber: Description button sorts the list in alphabetical order. So in descending order, House chamber votes will be at the top of the list, followed by Senate chamber votes.
The Bill sort is a bit complicated. There are two components to the sort, the bill type (in alphabetical order) followed by the bill number in numerical order (asending or descending order). So, in descending order, HBs would be at the top of the list followed by HJRs, followed by SBs followed SJRs.
One exception are votes such as resolutions, member compaints and confirmation These votes always will be placed at the bottom of the list, regardless whether the selection is in ascending or descending order.
The default order when the VOTES.HTM is loaded in descending order of roll-call dates. So, the latest vote will be at the top.
To see details of a vote including how individual legislators voted along with links to the bill, simply double click the vote in which you are interested.
At the bottom is a selection box to select a different year for the votes display. There also is a selection box to limit the display to the votes taken in a specific chamber. Switching the year or chamber automatically with update the vote list to your selection.
The View simply displays the details of a vote for which you made just one rather than a double click. The vote you selected will be displayed in red.
Note: The NV (not voting) covers those who missed the vote and those who voted present (P). Obviously, someone who voted present did vote, but it simplifies the table and the chart to include those votes in the not-voting figure since voting present essentially is an abstention.
The summary panel does not include vacant seats, although there will be an indication as to the number of vacancies at the time of the vote.
Vacant seats will be identified in the list of member votes.
At the top of the list scrollable list are four labels you can click to change the order of the display by the vote cast, legislator names, party or legislative district.
The first click of a label will sort list in ascending order. A second click will resort the list in descending order.
For example, the first click on Vote label would desplay the list in the over of N, P, Y. A second click would display the list in order of Y, P, N. A ? indicates a vacancy for the designated district.
Like the summary panel, both absent and present votes are included in the NV category.
The percentages are based on the actual number of members, not all the districts. So, vacant districts are not used to calculate percentages.
Unlike the summary panel, however, the chart does not include the occasional independent. Since there's never been 1 independent for a few years (in the House) for the period covered by MDN's role call database, the vote bar for the independent would be too small to even appear in the chart.
The reason is that your browser's print function will just print what's displayed by the brower. So the votes of members that are not visible in the member vote panel will not get printed.
With the print button, the summary panel and the full list of the member votes will be printed (in the order you selected -- but not the graphical chart.
The form will begin with any substitutes approved by a chamber or by a committee (HCS, SCS, HS or SS) -- in recent years House rules have prohibited subsitutes offered during chamber debate (HS). Next will be the bill type (HB, SB, HJR or SJR).
Note, MDN's database does not include chamber resolutions or General Assembly concurrent resolutions (HR, SR, HCR, SCR). Except in rare occasions, these resolutions have no real legal effect. Instead they just seek to express legislative opinion on a subject.
There are an occasional worthy of news coverage, but the time time it would take to read hundreds of resolutions to find a rare gem is not work the effort.
When a bill clears a chamber, the sponsor will pick a bill handler to handle his/her bill in the second chamber. But this is not a particularly formally position.
Prior to third reading (a chamber's final vote on a particular version of the bill), the bill must clear the chamber's budget oversight committee that reviews the financial costs or benefits to government from the bill.
If the bill is on the third-reading calendar, but has not cleared the chamber's budget control committee, the status field for the bill will include (In Budget)
See below for a detailed flow-chart of the path of a bill or joint resolution to clear the legislature.
Note, MDN will not identify assignment of a bill to a committee of the chamber of introduction if the assignment is too late for passage -- the fate of many bills in the House. Because committee assignment effectively is meaningless, the status will remain H 2nd Read.
The description focuses on the most significant and/or news worthy aspect of the bill. Amendments added to a bill that include unrelated subjects may not be included in the description unless the bill clears the legislature.
Because of the recent trend of the legislature to attach completely unrelated aspects to a bill, it is impossible to provide a description of every component that may have been attached. Do a search of 2019 bills for the word unrelated to understand how frequent this trend has become.
Many of these amendments are in clear violation of a clearly worded state Supreme Court decision that bills had to be limited to a single topic.
Besides the financial impact, a fiscal note can provide a far more detailed description about the bill independent of the description written by the staff of the chamber of the bill's introduction.
Note, however, that not every bill will have a fiscal note written. In recent years, a bill that has little or no change of advancing out of the original chamber's committee will have a fiscal note.
Note, however, the General Assembly did not have online website information about legislation prior to 1995. So, for the first ten years of MDN's legislation database (going back to 1985), there are no links to legislative pages for a measure (because they did not exist).
See:Bill Links below for more information about bill links.
At the bottom of Bill Display panel will be buttons to return you to the main Vote List page or the Vote Page for the specific roll call you are exploring.
Outside links deserves a brief explanation. Technically, these links are displayed in an iframe to avoid cluttering your computer with unnecessary pages.
But there is a problem for printing these pages. Most web browsers prevent changing information from an iframe external link to protect hackers from altering the information that is displayed.
The problem is that that access restriction prevents the calling page (such as VOTES.HTM) from accessing the infomation to generate a print function.
Compounding the problem is the House page about a bill or joint resolution. It includes its own seperate iframe to displaying a list of the action taken on the legislation.
There are programming techniques to get around these iframe problems, but I have not implemented that approach because I am not not sure if they would work on every type of browser.
So, to print one of MDN's iframe-link pages, you will need to right click the page to print the displayed iframe. In FireFox, the print function can be accessed from the "This Frame" option in the menu that will be displayed when you click the right mouse button when the pointer is in the frame.
The bottom of MDN's link page will include buttons to return to the main vote list, the specific vote page you had been viewing or the bill page from which you called up the link.
While there eight types of measures before the legislature, this description will use the generic term bill (although some are resolutions).
Except for single chamber resolutions (HR or SR) the other forms bills (HB or SB), joint resolutions (HJR or SJR) and concurrent resolutions (HCR or SCR) must follow the steps listed below:
Missouri's Constitution requires that the short "title" of a bill be read on three seperate days in each chamber. That imposes a minimum five day limit for a bill, since after third reading in the chamber or origin, the second chamber can first read the bill on the same day (if it's in session and the first chamber delivered the bill to the second chamber).
First and second reading are formalities, but third reading is when the chamber votes on the bill to send it to (or back to) the other chamber.
So, here is a list of the most complicated process a bill can take:
In addition, it's also up to the chair to decide when, if ever, a bill approved by the committee is reported to the full chamber for further action.
It's extremely rare, but a committee chair can kill a bill approved by the committee. Sometimes it's because the chair does not support the bill, but more often it's because of pressure from the leadership because the bill would be too divisive for chamber debate or the leadership doesn't like the bill.
A committee can vote "do not pass," but that triggers a more complicated process this flow chart will not address since it rarely happens. If the committee wants to kill the bill, the chair simply won't bring the bill up for a vote.
Perfection is a fancy title to indicate it's the process to "prefect" the bill with amendments or substitutes (although House rules no prohibit substitutes being offered during chamber perfection.
Perfection requires just a simple majority (50 percent plus one of the members voting) and often is done with just a voice vote.
Prior to an actual third reading vote, the bill must be cleared by a budget control committee that evaluates the cost of the bill to government. In recent years, approval has been almost routine, but occasionally a bill will get blocked by a House or Senate budget-controll commmitee
The constitution actually requires a majority of elected members, suggesting a smaller vote might be required depending on vacancies. But for decades legislative leaders have determined a "constitutional majority" requires a majority of the seats, not members.
In the second chamber, there is no perfection stage, a bill that clears the second chamber committee goes immediately to a third reading calendar for bills bills from the other chamber.
Amendments and subsitutes (in the Senate only) can be offered before the final third reading vote that requires a constitutional majority.
If the second chamber has made not even one-letter change to the original chamber's version, the measure clears the legislature.
One option is for the original chamber to simply accept the second chamber's version, which requires a 3rd reading vote to clear the legislature.
A second option is to send the measure to a House-Senate conference committee to work out the difference between the two chambers. That conference committee substitute will require a constitutional majority vote of both chambers to clear the legislature.
The third option is a gridlock. Occasionally a chamber will refuse to accept a motion to put the issue before a conference committee, a chamber will reject a conference committee compromise or the conference committee cannot reach an agreement.
In those cases, passage requires one of the chambers to accept and third read (with a constitutional majority) the version passed by the other chamber.
If it is a joint resolution that amends the constitution, it requires statewide voter approval to become part of the constitution. The only power a governor has over a constitutional amendment is to select the ballot upon which it will appear.
Normally a bill requires approval by the governor. But that can be avoided with a provision in the bill to submit the measure to the voters. In that case, like a joint resolution, the only power a governor has the ballot upon which the measure will appear.
If he vetoes the bill, that bill will be subject to an over-ride by the legislature, which requires a two-thirds vote of each chamber. Unless the bill was vetoed early in the legislative session, it will come before a short session in the fall to deal with gubernatorial vetoes.
But Missouri differs from the federal system if the governor refuses to sign or veto a bill. Under the federal system, failure to sign is called a "pocket veto" -- meaning failure to sign has the same effect as a veto.
But in Missouri, you could call it a "pocket signature." If a governor refuses to act on a bill, it automatically becomes law. That's happened less than two dozen times in more than three decades.
|▴ Chamber: Description