Missouri Legislature

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

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.

Democrats in the Missouri House are fighting to undo a state requirement for abortion providers to perform pelvic exams prior to abortions.

Legislation filed late last month would prohibit health care providers from requiring such examinations unless they are medically necessary.

The Missouri House on Thursday passed legislation that would exempt private and religious school workers from statewide minimum wage increases.

The measure passed by a vote of 94 to 53. The bill aims to create parity between public and private schools, said state Rep. Tim Remole, R-Excello, who sponsored the proposal.

Democrats in the Missouri House are ramping up their efforts to pass legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, known as MONA, was filed weeks ago but has yet to have a public hearing.

The current Missouri Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex and disability in employment, housing and “public accommodation,” which refers to access and service at businesses and facilities. MONA would add sexual orientation and gender identity to that list. 

The two top candidates for Missouri governor signed up to run in their party’s respective primaries on Tuesday, and spent their first moments as official candidates diverging on a ballot item to expand Medicaid.

Gov. Mike Parson and state Auditor Nicole Galloway’s entry into the 2020 gubernatorial contest came as scores of other congressional, statewide and legislative candidates traveled to Jefferson City to file for office.

Brandon Reid remembers watching Barack Obama win the presidential election from his living room couch in 2008. 

Most of his friends had gone to the polls that day to vote in what became a historic election. But Reid, who was in and out of prison because of drugs, couldn’t vote. He was on criminal supervision at the time. He missed the 2012 presidential election for the same reason. 

“If you don’t have the right to vote, of course, you are going to know about it, right? You see it on the news. It’s voting day. You want to be a part of it,” Reid said. 

As the Missouri General Assembly is poised to give voters another chance to decide how to draw state House and Senate maps, one of the lesser-discussed parts of the debate is how judges will gain expansive power if voters scrap the Clean Missouri system.

Under a ballot measure that recently passed the Senate and will likely be approved in the House, bipartisan commissions will have first crack at redistricting instead of a demographer. But the truth is the commissions have been historically irrelevant because they tend to deadlock along party lines and then turn over authority to appellate judges. 

There’s been little insight into how the judges actually came up with House and Senate districts — until now.

Hundreds of gun-restriction advocates visited the Missouri Statehouse on Tuesday to encourage lawmakers to pass stricter gun control measures. 

The specific legislation Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action want would prohibit anyone with a domestic offense conviction or an order of protection from purchasing a firearm.

Missouri lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow some inmates 65 or older to be released from prison early. 

The sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Tom Hannegan, said a small number — about 100 inmates — would be eligible for an early parole hearing. 

The Missouri House of Representatives passed legislation on Monday to create a statewide prescription drug monitoring program. 

The program, designed to prevent opioid abuse, was approved 98-56. The measure now moves to the Senate, where it has failed in recent years at least partially because some members say it is an invasion of privacy and they do not want to create a government list. 

More than 80% of the state’s population is covered under St. Louis County’s PDMP, and this measure would essentially expand that statewide, with added protections. 

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