Government & Politics

Missouri Senate floor will soon be off limits to reporters

After March 29, reporters will not be allowed on the floor of the Missouri Senate.
After March 29, reporters will not be allowed on the floor of the Missouri Senate.

Missouri senators voted overwhelmingly Thursday to bar reporters from access to the Missouri Senate floor.

Reporters for decades have had a table on the Senate floor from which they have covered the chamber’s proceedings. After March 29, reporters wishing to view Senate debates will have to do so from a space in the fourth-floor public gallery.

Reporters were originally told by Republican leaders Wednesday that the move was motivated by the need for more room on the floor for Senate staffers.

However, Senate President Ron Richard, a Joplin Republican, said Thursday the real reason was reporters overhearing discussions between senators on the floor and posting them to Twitter.

He called the action a “violation of journalistic ethics,” although he didn’t cite any specific incidents.

The Senate voted 26-4 to move the press to the fourth-floor gallery. Democrats Jason Holsman, Jamilah Nasheed, Jill Schupp and Scott Sifton voted against the measure.

The vote comes several months after the Senate decided to turn offices used by the media for several decades over to its in-house communications staff. Reporters were moved to fifth-floor offices.

Jason Hancock: 573-634-3565, @J_Hancock

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