JEFFERSON CITY - The last in a recent string of resignations from the Missouri Senate Research division has President Pro-Tem Peter Kinder to respond to Democratic accusations of being the cause of the loss of manpower.
Senate Democrats have accused Kinder's firing of Research Director David Valentine as the reason for the division's current rash of resignations.
"Rubbish and hogwash," said Kinder, calling out Senate Democrats for trying to politicize the what he describes as " utterly typical garden variety turnovers."
Kinder also stated that such turnovers are mostly due to losing employees to better paying jobs in the private sector, and there is no connection to their close proximity.
But Democrats paint a different picture.
In a press release on Wednesday, Senate minority leader Ed Quick said that Republicans have "created an environment so insecure and hostile to our nonpartisan staff that they feel they had better resign before they are fired like their former boss [Valentine]."
Senate President and Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell also stated that he is worried that this issue is becoming too politicized, and perhaps splitting the Senate in two.
"I think we should join together in a bipartisan way," he said. "I know Sen. Kinder is capable of doing that."
But Maxwell harbors other concerns, he said, especially the possibility that the research division, which handles bill drafting duties for the Senate, might not be properly staffed or trained come the 2002 legislative session this winter.
"We have a very tough time ahead of us...and not having proper staff could put the Missouri Senate at a huge disadvantage," he said.
Maxwell said that lack of experienced manpower could lead to a slowdown in the Senate come December 1, when bills need to be filed.
Kinder said that he is not worried, and that the search for replacements is well under way. Furthermore, said Kinder, the last legislative session was finished with three or four vacancies.