Jones in line to become Missouri House speaker in September
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
August 14, 2012
JEFFERSON CITY • Missouri House leaders are planning to elect Republican Tim Jones of Eureka as the new House speaker in September when the chamber returns to the Capitol for the Legislature’s annual veto session.
House Speaker Steve Tilley of Perryville resigned from the Legislature this week – five months before his term ends - to become a political consultant.
In an interview today, Jones, the current majority leader, said he is looking forward to taking on the post, which he is expected to retain in January during the next regular session.
“I have been working very closely with Steve Tilley over the last year to prepare for the position,” Jones said.
Jones has been the speaker-in-waiting under the House Republican Caucus’ selection process, but the decision must be approved by the full House.
House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller of Willard said he thinks that will be one of the first actions when the Legislature returns Sept. 12.
“I have full confidence in (Jones’) leadership,” Schoeller said at an event in Jefferson City today.
He said he is not aware of anyone else who plans to seek the post, and he expects Jones to easily be elected.
Schoeller, who is running for secretary of state and will not return to the House in January, would have been in line to assume the acting speaker role during the veto session upon Tilley's resignation. But both he and Jones said they discussed a succession plan and decided that it made sense for Jones to get the jump on the position.
“I’m looking at building upon the legacy and the progress that has been made in the House in recent years,” Jones said, noting that he wants to focus on economic development, education and energy policy during his tenure.
Schoeller said he will handle any necessary speaker’s duties until Jones can be elected.
Tilley, 41, was term limited so his resignation wasn't entirely shocking, but some were surprised by the timing.
Schoeller said Tilley had spoken to him recently about his plans to resign, but he was not tipped off before the official announcement Monday.
“It’s a personal decision for him,” Schoeller said.
Tilley has not responded to calls for comment this week.
In a letter to colleagues, he said he “choose to leave early because I did not want to be a paid consultant while serving as the speaker of the House.”
He also cited his two teenage daughters as "key factors" in his decision to leave before his term expires in January.
"Over the past eight years, I sometimes put the interest of the (Republican) Caucus and the House ahead of my family; however, my decision to resign early is a decision that I made with my daughters and puts my family first,” he wrote.
For the veto session, Jones said Republicans will try to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would have allowed Missouri employers and insurers to deny coverage for contraception, abortion or sterilization if those things violate their religious beliefs or moral convictions.
Jones said he thinks the Senate will "definitely" approve the override and there is an “extremely strong likelihood” that the House will have enough votes.
Each chamber must have two-thirds vote to override a veto, which means they will need 109 votes in the House and 23 in the Senate. Republicans have a large enough majority in the House. The GOP controlled the House 106-57 before Tilley's exit.
Assuming all Republicans vote in favor of the override, the GOP will need help from four Democrats to pass it.
Jones said the GOP majority also hopes to override his veto of a bill that would have allowed cities and counties to resume collecting local sales taxes on vehicles purchased out of state.
“We should easily have the votes to override that in the House,” he said.
Jones ranked a bill dealing with liquor franchises as his third possibility for the veto session.
“Those really are the top three that I think will receive consideration,” he said.
Jones said his majority leader vacancy also could be filled in September, and Rep. John Diehl of Town and Country is the only announced candidate at this time.