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House GOP caucus divided after income tax cut fails

Jason Sheppard photo
Courtesy photo
Rep. Jason Sheppard has been stripped of his House committee chairmanship by Speaker Tom Leonard.

There’s a lot of turmoil among Republicans in the state House right now. That’s after the GOP leadership took a get-tough approach on Republicans who refused to support an income tax rollback.

After a little over 12 hours of trying to wrestle enough “yes” votes, House Republicans still came up short. About a dozen Republicans voted against the legislation.

But it wasn’t just the long hours that left members frustrated. State House Speaker Tom Leonard accused one of his colleagues, Rep. Jason Sheppard, of lying and stripped him of his committee chairmanship.

But some have questioned the Republican leadership’s tactics in trying to get the votes.

Republican Rep. Dave Pagel says “I felt pressure. I think all of us felt a lot of pressure to change our votes.”

Leonard defended the decision to remove Sheppard, saying Sheppard lied to him about his vote. “The Representative from Monroe County looked me in the eyes and told me he was going to be a yes vote,” Leonard says. “That was the only surprise.”

Now Pagel wants to meet with members of his party and look into the way the vote was handled. “I’ve got concerns that hopefully we’ll address next week in caucus and maybe get some of our unity back," Pagel states, "but we’re not a real unified group this morning.”

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