The Missouri House observed President’s Day on Monday, while the Missouri Senate had a normal legislative day. This past Wednesday, the Mizzou Alumni Association presented the 2023 Henry S. Geyer Awards to Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer and Pat Thomas at a reception held at the Governor's Mansion. Tensions in the Capitol are rising both in and outside of the Capitol. The House budget committee’s timeline is beginning to take shape.
Gaming Bill Elevates Senate Tension
On Thursday morning, the Senate Appropriations committee held an executive session on a pair of gaming bills.
- SB 30 (Sen. Luetkemeyer) authorizes sports wagering (only) and was voted out of committee by a vote of 11-1.
- SB 1 (Sen. Hoskins) authorizes both sports wagering and video lottery terminals and failed by a vote of 2-10.
The “early supplemental” bill, HB 14, was Truly Agreed and Finally Passed this week, and is expected to be signed quickly by the Governor. Most of the expenditures authorized in this bill are for a 8.7% pay increase for state employees, which will take affect upon the Governor’s signature.
House Budget Chairman Cody Smith (R-Carthage), announced this week that he would like to get the budget voted out of committee prior to legislative spring break. Spring break begins after session on Thursday, March 9, which leaves two weeks for the committee to hear from executive departments and complete the budget mark-up process.
Tragedy in St. Louis Brings New Focus to Public Safety Bill(s)
This past weekend, there was a horrific tragedy in St. Louis, involving a traffic accident in downtown St. Louis that resulted in a teenage volleyball star (who was in St. Louis with her team for a tournament) having both of her legs amputated. As details of the investigation emerged, it was found that the individual at fault had dozens of documented violations against the terms of his house arrest. Due to many vocalized concerns that these violations were not appropriately handled by Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office, Attorney General Andrew Bailey called for Gardener’s resignation in a press conference. When the resignation did not come, Bailey filed a Petition of Quo Warranto in the City of St. Louis to remove Gardner from office.
This tragedy has brought additional momentum regarding the passage of HB 301, which would allow the Governor to appoint a special prosecutor for any jurisdiction where the murder rate exceeds 35 cases per 100,000 people. The bill is a result of consistent criticism of Gardner’s office and the lack of prosecution for many crimes committed in the City. HB 301 has passed the Missouri House and is now scheduled for a Senate hearing this Monday.
This tragedy will also likely shine some light on the effort to return control of the St. Louis City Police Department back to the State of Missouri. On Thursday, the House voted out of committee four bills that would place the St. Louis Police Department under the control of a five-member board, which would consist of the St. Louis mayor and four Governor appointments with Senate consent.
Two weeks remain until the legislative spring break. Budget committee will hear from executive departments next week, with markup being scheduled for the following week. Bill filing ends on March 1, so there will be a mad rush early next week to get legislation drafted in order to meet the deadline in both chambers.