Missouri Legislature

Covering state lawmakers, bills, and policy emerging from Jefferson City.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is distancing himself from proposed gun restrictions that he previously supported. 

In a November meeting with the mayors of St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield, Parson agreed to several proposals to help fight violence, including some so-called red flag laws. 

The mayors and the governor laid out a clear initiative: increase funding for witness protection programs and mental health resources, pass a state law that would prohibit minors from buying handguns, and keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and violent criminals.

State Rep. Cody Smith is the latest guest on the Politically Speaking podcast. The Carthage Republican spoke with St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue about his role as House Budget chairman — and his thoughts on overhauling Missouri’s criminal justice system.

Smith was first elected to the Missouri House in 2016 in a district encompassing parts of Jasper County in southwest Missouri. He became Budget chairman after his predecessor, Scott Fitzpatrick, was appointed as state treasurer.

For the second year, legislation aiming to limit the use of seclusion rooms and restraint in Missouri schools has been filed. 

But this year, with Republican support in the GOP-dominated Legislature and more media attention, the chances of it passing appear more promising, backers say.

State Rep. Ian Mackey, D-Richmond Heights, filed the proposal last year. It passed it out of committee but did not make it to the House floor for a vote. This year, Mackey said lawmakers are much more aware of the issue. 

“Isolating kids, and in many cases telling no one, including the parents,” is happening every day in Missouri schools, Mackey said at a press conference promoting the legislation on Monday. 

The GOP leaders of the Missouri Senate say they plan to make changes in the process for drawing the state’s House and Senate districts a top priority — and are prepared to withstand any opposition among the Democratic caucus.

That makes it basically inevitable that Missouri voters will decide whether they want to retain a new redistricting system that they approved in 2018 — or largely go back to a prior system that was used to craft state legislative maps.

The Missouri General Assembly’s 2020 legislative session began with procedure and ceremony: lawmakers reading the Bill of Rights, new legislators being sworn in and hundreds of bills being formally introduced.

But even though Wednesday’s opening was fairly mundane, legislators from both parties are expecting fierce debates in the coming weeks over state legislative redistricting and gun violence — issues that could play a big role in the impending 2020 elections.

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