The success of the Kansas City Chiefs led to a shortened week in the Missouri Legislature. The House and Senate broke early on Wednesday so that members could attend the victory parade for Super Bowl LVII. The break did not prevent the legislature from having a productive week. Due to the victory parade the Senate made members aware on Wednesday morning that they would be cancelling activities on Thursday and would return on Monday. The House was in session on Thursday, but will not be having session on Monday in observance of President’s Day.
Senate Passes “Parent’s Bill of Rights”
The Senate on Tuesday took up and third read SB 4, sponsored by Senator Andrew Koenig. This education bill, referred to as the Parents Bill of Rights would:
- require school boards to adopt curriculum in advance of implementation
- require DESE to implement school accountability report cards
- empower parents to access records maintained by schools in a timely manner
- create a Missouri Education Transparency and Accountability Portal
- require that any electronic device issued by a school have filters prohibiting access to social media sites, video sharing sites, and pornography
- change the weighting of students who receive free and reduced lunch in the calculation of weighted average daily attendance
- establish that any school district that operates magnet schools shall not be considered inefficient for purposes of state aid for transportation
- prohibit discussion of certain concepts and beliefs in public schools
- require DESE to develop a patriotic and civics training program to prepare teachers to teach the principles of American civics and patriotism
This is a major priority for Senate Republicans. The bill now heads to the House for consideration.
Productive Week in the Missouri Senate
Despite the short work week, the Missouri Senate had an extremely productive week on the Senate floor. On Tuesday they progressed through the calendar and perfected twelve bills. Moving very deliberately yet expeditiously, they perfected bills dealing with:
- the Missouri Department of Transportation and Patrol Employees Retirement System
- First Responder Mental Health
- Film Tax Credits
- the Department of Revenue
- Automobile Dealers Collection of Sales Taxes
- Professional Counselors
- Court Automation
- Financial Institutions
- Public School Retirement Systems
House Appropriation Subcommittees Complete Mark Up
The House Appropriations Subcommittees met this week and completed their mark-up process. The next step in the budget process is for the budget bills to be presented to the full budget committee. It is unclear exactly what the process will look at this time as the structure of the committee deliberations and timing is still being contemplated.
Initiative Petition Changes Heard in Senate
HJR 43, which changes the percentage of voters required to pass a constitutional amendment from a simple majority to 60% of voters in an election, was heard in the Senate Committee on Local Government and Elections. Witnesses in opposition outnumbered proponents by a ratio of three-to-one. Given the early hearing in the Senate on a House bill, it is clear IP reform is a top priority for Republicans in both bodies.
Despite the abbreviated week, there was significant movement on legislation. With three weeks remaining until the legislative spring break, expect the Senate to continue working priority legislation through the process, while the House will continue to formulate their positions on the FY 24 operating budget. Bill filing ends on March 1, so expect an influx of bill introductions as that date approaches.