With one week remaining before the legislative spring break, floor debate in both bodies increased significantly this week. Some spirited debate surrounding the St. Louis police department occurred in the House and the Senate. The budget process continues to move, though more slowly than anticipated.
Next Monday, March 6th, at noon, the House Special Committee on Government Accountability will conduct a hearing on HB 489, the “Do No Harm Act,” sponsored by Representative Ben Baker, and HB 1196, on postsecondary education discrimination, sponsored by Representative Doug Richey.
Battle Over Control of the St. Louis City Police Department
HCS HB 702, 53, 213, 216, 306, & 359 brings the police department of the City of St. Louis under the control of a state-appointed board that would include the Mayor of St. Louis and four representatives from the City of St. Louis (appointed by the Governor). The bill was given first-round approval on the floor of the House this week. Proponents argued that crime is rampant, with automobile thefts, homicides, and lawlessness at previously unseen levels. Opponents pointed to open-carry legislation passed in Missouri. They also noted that crime rates are up nationwide and that some perpetrators come into St. Louis City, which skews the crime statistics.
The bill is now in Fiscal Review, and the hearing is scheduled for Monday, paving the way for a final House vote sometime next week.
Senate Republicans Oppose Tort Reform Measure
On Wednesday, the Senate took up SB 117, which would change the statute of limitations on lawsuits resulting from malpractice, negligence, error, or mistake. It also changes the statute of limitations for personal injury claims.
Why it matters: Several Republicans joined with Democrats to filibuster the bill. Among the Republican Senators who helped filibuster were Senators Brattin, Ben Brown, Carter, Eigel, Hoskins, and Moon.
The Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys has been a major campaign contributor to members of the former conservative caucus and appears to have made some inroads.
Senate Passes Film Bill
Following the perfection of SS SCS SB 94, 52, 57, 58, and 67 last week, the film tax credit bill was eventually voted out of Fiscal Review Monday as required by the Senate rules. The bill was voted out of committee by a vote of 3-2 and approved by the full Senate by 20-12, with two absentees. The bill now heads to the House for consideration.
- Governor Parson on Tuesday signed HB 14, the “early supplemental” bill that would provide all state employees with an 8.7% pay increase.
- The Missouri Senate Appropriations committee continues to hear budget presentations from state agencies in anticipation of the budget moving to the Senate.
- Contrary to previous estimates, the House Budget Committee will not conduct committee markup before legislative spring break, which begins March 10th and runs through March 20th.