Missouri Legislature

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

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday he will use $125 million in federal funding for job training and to assist public universities in the fall. 

The money, which was distributed from the federal government to help states deal with the coronavirus pandemic, comes with restrictions on how it can be used. 

Colleges and universities will collect $80 million to help them prepare for students and faculty returning next month. Higher Education Commissioner Zora Mulligan said the money will be used for a variety of purposes to make public spaces safe. 

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday signed legislation allowing people at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus to vote absentee without needing an additional notarized statement. 

“Any Missourian affected by COVID-19 should still be able to vote, including those who are sick or considered at-risk,” Parson said in a statement. “I applaud Senator Dan Hegeman, Representative Dan Shaul, and the rest of the legislature for taking this important step, which provides Missourians with a safe and secure way to vote while still safeguarding our elections and ballot process.”

Sen. Paul Wieland has seen a lot of startling events during his 12 Missouri legislative sessions.

The Imperial Republican has witnessed resignations of House speakers, deaths of statewide officials and implosions of gubernatorial administrations. But Wieland says he’s never gone through anything like 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic massively altered the Legislature’s workload and focus.

The way Missouri draws its state House and Senate districts will be up for referendum later this year after the House Wednesday backed a ballot initiative aimed at repealing the so-called Clean Missouri redistricting system.

It’s a move that could greatly increase the power of appellate judges to draw state legislative districts — and make compactness a bigger priority in mapmaking than competitiveness and partisan fairness.

Missouri legislators approved a $35.2 billion state budget on Friday that includes $14.7 billion from the federal government’s coronavirus relief package. 

This comes at a time when State Budget Director Dan Haug said net general revenue collections for April were down 54% — from $1.5 billion to $725.2 million — compared to last year. 

Missouri lawmakers are headed into the last week of the 2020 legislative session Monday, with leadership saying they’d like to keep it “uneventful.” 

Typically, the final days of session mimics that of a college student cramming for finals. It’s reserved for some of the bigger and more controversial pieces of legislation, but the coronavirus halted much of the lawmaking process. 

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade is the latest guest on Politically Speaking. The Springfield Democrat joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jaclyn Driscoll to provide her impressions of how the Missouri General Assembly is faring after it was idle for weeks due to the coronavirus.

Quade represents a House district that takes in part of Springfield. As the leader of the House Democrats, Quade is largely responsible for crafting her party’s message and strategy in the Missouri House.

Missouri is spending $66 million in federal money to help with child care needs because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The money will allow low-income families looking for work to be eligible for 90-day child care benefits through December, Missouri Department of Social Services Director Jennifer Tidball said Wednesday. 

In addition, families with incomes up to 215% of the poverty level and with a “documented child care need” will have access to subsidies for transitional child care through August. 

Missouri lawmakers are headed back to the state capitol Monday to pass a state budget by May 8. 

The coronavirus has left the 2020 legislative session in limbo, and there’s still serious concerns about spreading the virus. But House Speaker Elijah Haahr said it’s imperative to get a budget complete. 

“Our constitution doesn’t allow us to do anything but to pass it by May 8,” said Haahr. 

The Missouri Legislature on Wednesday approved $6.2 billion to fight the coronavirus statewide. 

The supplemental budget gives Gov. Mike Parson spending authority for the money, most of which comes from the federal government’s stimulus package. That money has yet to be doled out to states, and there is some speculation as to how it can be spent. 

State Sen. Andrew Koenig and state Rep. Deb Lavender are both accustomed to meeting lots and lots of voters during election time.

The two lawmakers are running against each other in the 15th Senate District race, and one of the reasons the contest is compelling is because of both candidates’ ability to campaign door to door.

But everything’s changed with COVID-19. Koenig said he’s put his campaign on hold and is focused on using his office to get the word out about the governmental response to the virus. 

As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, Missouri lawmakers say they are planning to return to Jefferson City next week to pass a supplemental budget that includes millions of state and federal dollars to help deal with the outbreak. 

Legislation creating a statewide prescription drug monitoring program cleared its last major hurdle on Thursday — passing the Missouri Senate 21-10.

The measure has passed in the House for years, but a strong filibuster in the Senate has allowed some of the conservative members to kill the proposal due to privacy concerns. A monitoring program is designed to prevent abuse, especially of opioids. 

Missouri Capitol
David Shane / Flickr

A bill making its way through the Missouri House would fundamentally change the representation on the school board for Springfield Public Schools. 

House Bill 2591 would mandate that school board candidates come from various parts of the city.  It would create two at-large districts—one in north Springfield and the other covering south Springfield—and five subdistricts.

jimmywayne / Flickr

Governor Mike Parson says the state is “very well-prepared if a coronavirus outbreak were to happen in Missouri.”

During a press conference and briefing in Jefferson City Tuesday, Parson praised the ongoing efforts of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services as well as local health officials in the state.

Parson says they’ll “continue taking proactive steps to educate, inform and protect” the people of Missouri, according to a press release from his office.

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