JEFFERSON CITY • Two House Republicans have been pulled from a committee because of their votes blocking education reform legislation.
Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones said he removed Rep. Denny Hoskins of Warrensburg and Rep. Jeff Messenger of Republic from the House Fiscal Oversight Committee because they voted on policy, rather than the fiscal analysis, of legislation that would create a new educator evaluation system and change teacher tenure.
“Because they had no fiscal objections to the bill, I could not understand why they would be voting ‘no’ on it,” Jones told reporters after he was asked about the committee change-up.
Jones, R-Eureka, has made the education reform legislation a priority this session, but his effort suffered a major setback recently when the House shot down the earlier version of the bill in a 102-55 vote, despite the GOP’s holding a veto-proof majority in the chamber.
After the House bill’s defeat, Jones chided his Republican members who voted against the proposal and praised bill sponsor Rep. Kevin Elmer, R-Nixa. “I need 2 trade for 26 more Elmer’s,” Jones tweeted. “For the kids.”
Hoskins and Messenger were among the Republicans who voted against it.
The legislation — in both the House and Senate versions — would require schools to implement yearly educator evaluations based, in part, on student achievement. The reform bills also would tie those evaluations to teacher tenure. The effort is backed by the Children’s Education Council of Missouri.
“Education reform is an important priority for this entire state,” Jones said. “I think many people are very much afraid of the political ramifications back home. It takes a lot of courage to stand up against the educational institution in this state.”
After their committee votes Thursday morning that helped block the latest version of the bill from moving to the House floor, Hoskins and Messenger were replaced on the committee with Reps. Sonya Anderson of Springfield and Kathy Swan of Cape Girardeau. Swan and Anderson both voted in favor of the earlier version of the education reform bill when it was on the House floor earlier this month.
“Fiscal review is to review the fiscal notes on the matter. … They had policy objections,” Jones said of Hoskins and Messenger.
He said he decided to replace them with Swan and Anderson, two freshman lawmakers, because they “completely understand the purpose of fiscal review.”
The committee is scheduled to meet again at 2 p.m. Monday, and members could move to advance the education reform bill then.
After lawmakers left for the week on Thursday, two other Republicans appeared to have been removed from the House Education Committee. Reps. Mike Thomson of Maryville and Elaine Gannon of DeSoto were no longer listed on the committee page. It’s unclear what prompted that shift.
Jones did not mention the change to reporters, and neither Thomson nor Gannon could be reached for comment Thursday evening. Both were among those who voted against the education bill on the floor.
Hoskins, who said said he was concerned that the education reform legislation took power away from local school boards, said he was frustrated over Jones’ decision to pull him from his committee.
“I enjoyed serving on Fiscal Review,” he said, before adding that he also respected that it is within the speaker’s authority to control committee assignments.