The Missouri General Assembly had a short week this week. Due to inclement weather and President’s Day, they will not return to session until Tuesday of next week.
The Missouri Senate decided to not take up redistricting this week in an effort to get things done, with the intent of taking up bills that were seen as less controversial. However, it has become increasingly apparent that regardless of subject matter, bills will be met with opposition and tension until differences are resolved among Senators.
There have been over a thousand bills filed thus far, many of those related to education. As mentioned during our advocacy presentations, the link for a list of key bills is listed below. We have highlighted a few below.
Tracking List: https://www.govwatch.net/report/21265
Senator Lincoln Hough’s Fastrack Workforce Development was taken up on the Senate floor this week and was met with several amendments including an amendment banning critical race theory (CRT) in public higher education institutions and another amendment that would have prevented men from participating in women’s athletics. These amendments were laid over and the conservative caucus threatened to filibuster to delay action further. However, the Senate was finally able to perfect its first bill this session, Senator Lincoln Hough’s Fastrack Workforce Development bill (SB672).
Historically Black College and University Week
This week, the Senate Progress and Development Committee successfully passed out of committee Barbara Washington’s bill that would designate the third week of September as “Historically Black College and University Week” in Missouri (SB718).
Missouri House of Representatives
Parental Bill of Rights and Critical Race Theory
This week the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education passed several bills regarding increased parental involvement regarding their children in Missouri schools. Please see below a list of bills that were passed out of committee.
- The Parents' Bill of Rights Act of 2022 (HB1474), introduced by Representative Nick Schroer, would require school districts that receive any federal or state money, to provide specific rights and information relating to minor children to the parents of the child. The bill also prevents the teaching of critical race theory and the 1619 project. This bill is superseded by House Bill 1995.
- The Parents’ Bill of Rights for Student Well-Being (HB1995), introduced by Representative Doug Richey, seeks to prohibit the infringement of the rights of parents or legal guardians when it comes to a minor’s upbringing, education, healthcare, or mental health. The bill establishes several parental rights to include what information the school district must share with them and the ability for students to opt out of lessons or instruction. The legislation also implements an online portal that will give greater access to parents regarding the curriculum being taught to their child.
- Representative Phil Christofanelli’s resolution which proposes a constitutional amendment relating to the parents' bill of rights (HJR110).
The House Rules and Administrative Oversight committee also successfully passed out of committee several vaccine mandate bills. Please see a list of bills that were reported out of committee to pass below.
- House Bill 1475, introduced by Representative Nick Schroer, would prohibit institutions of higher education from mandating COVID-19 vaccines or gene therapy treatments. This would be a prohibit to require the vaccine as a condition of employment or for acceptance of a student or to be physically present at an event, premises, or facility.
- House Bill 1624, introduced by Representative Nick Schroer, creates provisions relating to COVID-19 tests and vaccinations.
- House Bill 2093, introduced by Representative John Wiemann, would prohibit state and local governments from implementing workplace vaccination programs.
- House Bill 1861, introduced by Representative John Eggleston, creates provisions relating to COVID-19 vaccination status with respect to organ transplant procedures.
- House Bill 1641, introduced by Representative Jeff Coleman, creates provisions relating to employer responsibilities associated with vaccine mandates.
The Missouri House of Representatives perfected several bills this week regarding vaccine mandates. Please see a list of those bills below.
- House Bill 2358, introduced by Representative David Evans, requires that employers make reasonable accommodations from a COVID-19 vaccine mandate including sincerely held beliefs and clarifies the religious exemption. There would also be a shifting of the burden of proof on to the employers to prove that what the employee is claiming is false. The bill also addresses employee misconduct, unemployment, workers’ compensation, and visitation rights.
- House Bill 1686, introduced by Representative Bill Hardwick, which establishes exemptions for the right to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine and limits the entities that are able to require vaccine mandates. There is a specific provision that excludes public colleges and universities that that have to require the vaccine for employees in order to receive federal funds but that it should not be a mandate for students to get the vaccine for enrollment.
The House Rules and Administrative Oversight Committee successfully reported out Representative Dean VanSchoiack’s House Bill 1619, which would prohibit the use of a drone or unmanned aircraft to photograph, film, videotape, create an image, or livestream another person or personal property of another person. There are criminal penalties to the violations of these provisions. The bill also provides several exceptions to the provisions of this act.
Preventing Religious Discrimination
The House Rules and Administrative Oversight Committee successfully reported out House Bill 1724, introduced by Representative Brad Hudson, which would prohibit public institutions of higher learning from discriminating against a religious student association or denying a religious student association any benefit available to any other student association.
Advanced Placement (AP) Exams
On Monday, the House Higher Education committee met to hear public testimony regarding Representative Chis Brown’s House Bill 1683, which requires in-state public educational institutions to grant undergraduate course credit for students who score 3 or higher on advance placement examinations. The University of Missouri System testified against the bill citing concerns that the bill might have unintended consequences with a one-size-fits-all approach that could potentially hinder student success and therefore enrollment. The University of Missouri System looks forward to working with the bill sponsor to make reasonable changes to the text that would enable student success, reduce student loan debt and continue to meet Missouri’s high-demand workforce needs.
Speakers on College Campuses
On Monday, the House Higher Education committee met to hear public testimony regarding Representative Adam Schnelting’s Missouri Censorship Prohibition Act, which seeks to protect the rights of speakers on campuses of public institutions of higher education (HB 2105). Specifically, the bill tries to ensure that public institutions of higher education are not censoring a speaker based on the speaker’s political ideology and or party affiliation. The bill also has provisions that if a speaker is censored by a public institution of higher education that they can bring civil action against the institution.