missouri legislative session

Missouri lawmakers are back in Jefferson City as they prepare to kick off the 2016 legislative session at noon today.

In addition to passing the state budget, they're expected to tackle several other issues, including ethics reform and Gov. Jay Nixon's push to build a new NFL stadium for the Rams.

j.stephenconn / flickr

With the general assembly set to begin in early January, lawmakers are busy proposing new legislation.

Missouri residents who have concealed-carry permits will be able to openly carry their firearms anywhere in the state, as a result of the General Assembly decision to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a broad gun-rights bill.

The bill prevents municipalities from barring people from openly carrying firearms, lowers the minimum age to 19 for concealed carry permits in the state, and allows school districts to arm teachers. Police officers also will be barred from disarming people unless they are under arrest.

This week's edition of Politically Speaking is fully focused on Wednesday's veto session. St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcomed state Rep. Caleb Jones, R-Boone County, to our St. Louis studio to tell us what to expect. 

(Updated at 1 p.m. Monday with additional comments from House Speaker Tim Jones.)

Gov. Jay Nixon proved that he can outdo himself, at least when it comes to vetoing legislation. 

It'll be a busy week for Missouri lawmakers as they enter the homestretch of the 2014 regular session.

First, the Missouri Senate is scheduled this evening to begin debates on the 13 bills making up the state budget, and they may actually try to pass them all tonight, according to Appropriations chair Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia.

missouri capitol
Ryan Famuliner / KBIA

Missouri senators have endorsed an income tax cut that could eventually waive an estimated $464 million a year in state revenues.

The legislation given initial approval Wednesday would cut taxes by half of the amount originally proposed by a Republican-led committee. It could gradually cut the state's top individual income tax rate to 5 and a half percent from the current 6 percent.

It also could phase in a 25 percent deduction for business income reported on individual income tax returns, and add a $500 tax deduction for lower-income individuals.

The first full week of the Missouri’s General Assembly is officially underway, and already the focus has shifted away from the expected topics – tax cuts and Medicaid expansion – and landed smack dab in the midst of a potentially bruising battle over labor rights.

The fight offers the potential of overshadowing other legislative issues for weeks, if not months.

As the Missouri General Assembly prepares to open on Wednesday for its five-month session, those involved – in and out of the state Capitol – say the big unknown about this year’s proceedings centers on one major question:

Will the session be about the past – the continued debates over Medicaid expansion and tax cuts? Or will it be controlled by new matters – notably, the unrest over student transfers from failed districts and the looming 2014 elections?

Jay Nixon
File Photo / KBIA

With two stops in mid-Missouri Tuesday, Gov. Jay Nixon continued his campaign against a Republican-sponsored bill that would cut the corporate and individual income tax rates. Nixon vetoed the bill earlier this summer. 

Nixon addressed Missouri school leaders in Columbia Tuesday at a conference hosted by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  The governor used the venue to continue speaking against a bill that would cut taxes in the state.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's record number of vetoes this year is expected to set up a very busy and hard-fought veto session this September.

According to the Associated Press, the Democratic Governor struck down 29 of the 145 non-budgetary bills sent to him by the Republican-dominated House and Senate.  Dave Robertson is a political science professor at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.

Teddy Nykiel / KBIA News

  Even though Republican lawmakers turned back Democratic efforts to expand Medicaid this year, House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) has created two committees to look into the issue this summer.  The first committee will have House members teaming up with citizens to explore ways to reform the Medicaid system. 

That committee will then give their findings to the second committee, which will make recommendations for next year’s legislative session.  Jones says the Medicaid system is severely broken, and the more people working on fixing it, the better.

nomadsoul1 / dreamstime

Rep. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) and Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) heard from four supporters of Medicaid expansion at a legislative wrap-up session in Columbia Tuesday night. A little bit more than half of the one-hour meeting, hosted by the Boone County Pachyderms Club, was spent debating the expansion. 

Missouri’s GOP super-majority blocked every Democratic attempt to increase Medicaid eligibility in the state, calling the program an expensive, yet broken system.

Supporters of the expansion said it would help low-income, working adults in Missouri who aren’t eligible for the program, but are too poor to afford their own insurance. Brian Smith of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center attended the meeting. He said when combined with cuts to Medicare provider reimbursements, the lack of Medicaid expansion would disproportionately hurt rural hospitals and might push them to close. 

Both the Missouri House and Senate have instituted interim committees that would study ways to reform Medicaid. Rowden said he hopes to be involved in the discussion.

File Photo / KBIA

Missouri lawmakers will continue working on several issues after last month’s end of the 2013 regular session.  House Speaker Tim Jones has announced the formation of an interim committee to examine the state’s election laws.  It’s being chaired by fellow Republican Sue Entlicher, who formerly served as Clerk of Polk County:

“We’re looking for anything to keep the statutes up to date and not repeat anything…then also we’re going to comprise, hopefully, a plan to take care of any of the voting machines that need to be updated or need to be replaced,” Entlicher said. 

Teddy Nykiel / KBIA News

 

Although the Missouri legislative session has ended, the discussion on what to do with the state’s Medicaid program continues.

The Affordable Care Act asks states to expand their Medicaid eligibility to cover those who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s about $30,000 for a family of four. Missouri’s Republican-majority legislature has refused to expand Medicaid, calling it a broken system. Now, both the state House and Senate have established interim committees to study ways to reform Medicaid.

Missouri motorcycle riders had several favorable bills sent to Gov. Jay Nixon during this year's legislative session, but a big priority still did not pass.

Lawmakers passed bills that would declare May motorcycle awareness month and would prevent police from setting up "motorcycle-only" checkpoints.

A Missouri lawmaker who threatened to resign unless one or both of his key bills survived the last day of the 2013 legislative session is staying put, even though both bills failed to make it out by Friday's deadline.

Legislation that would revive Missouri's ailing Second Injury Fund and seek to reduce the number of occupational disease lawsuits was passed Thursday by the Missouri House.  It had already passed the Missouri Senate during pre-dawn hours on Wednesday.

missouri house floor
File Photo / KBIA News

Missouri state legislators return to the Capitol today with a to-do list that includes the budget and various legislative priorities such as taxes, economic incentives and a fund for injured workers.

The Legislature recessed this past week for its midsession break. Lawmakers are scheduled to resume debate today.

A task force has released its recommendations on combatting sexual abuse of children in Missouri.

There are 22 recommendations in all.  They include requiring people who are legally obligated to report sex abuse incidents to directly contact the state’s Children’s Division, instead of just reporting incidents to superiors within their own organizations.  That particular recommendation will be sponsored by State Representative Marsha Haefner (R, Oakville).

zombieite / Flickr

In the wake of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, Missouri lawmakers will have competing gun proposals when they convene next month for the 2013 regular session.  They include one that would require background checks for anyone who buys a firearm at gun shows. 

Missouri Capitol
j.stephenconn / Flickr

Forecasters call for Missouri’s revenues to grow by just over 3 percent during the next fiscal year, and a conservative group wants any left over money to be returned to taxpayers or added to the state’s Rainy Day fund.  Democratic Governor Jay Nixon and Republican legislative leaders released the annual revenue estimate ahead of the 2013 legislative session. 

missouri capitol
Ryan Famuliner / KBIA

Monday was the first full day that Missouri lawmakers in both chambers can pre-file bills for next year’s regular session.  Much of the legislation pre-filed in  the State Senate so far deals with tax credits:

State House proposal would ban 'Black Friday Eve'

Dec 4, 2012
Dale Muckerman / flikr

A proposal in the Missouri House would make it illegal for retail stores to open for business on Thanksgiving Day.  It’s one of several bills pre-filed Monday by state legislators ahead of next year’s regular legislative session.  The proposal is sponsored by Democrat Jeff Roorda of Jefferson County.  He says it’s in response to the ongoing push by retailers to open for business on nationally-recognized holidays: “It’s Thanksgiving Day, it’s not Black Friday’s Eve…it’s just silly what these retailers are doing to the families of folks that work for them…(it’s) supposed to be about family an

Regional news coverage from the KBIA newsroom, including:

  • A wrap of of the legislators' final actions of the 2012 Missouri legislative session
  • Attorney General Chris Koster puts pressure on the MO Supreme Court to schedule executions

Missouri lawmakers continue debating bills in the closing minutes of the 2012 regular session.

Among the bills passed so far today is one that would require legislative approval before a health care exchange can be created in Missouri.  State Rep. Ryan Silvey (R, Kansas City) accused Governor Jay Nixon (D) of trying last year to create an exchange via executive order.

Regional news coverage from the KBIA newsroom, including:

  • Movement on bills in the Missouri House and Senate 2 days before the legislative session closes
  • A report on the $750 million in taxes Missouri and Kansas have given up in the battle for Kansas City jobs
  • A report shows the frequency of severe storms across the Midwest has doubled in the past 50 years

The Missouri Senate has passed a tax credit measure after hammering out an agreement between GOP leaders and fiscal conservatives who’ve been trying to reign in tax breaks for years.

The agreement would cap historic preservation tax credits at $75 million per year, give a one-year extension to food pantry and other charitable tax breaks, and create incentives to draw amateur sporting events to Missouri.  State Senator Eric Schmitt (R, Glendale) urged the chamber to pass it before time runs out on the regular session.

Missouri lawmakers return to Jefferson City today for the start of this year’s legislative session.  The year 2011 was marked by House and Senate Republicans fighting with each other over tax credits and redistricting, while still managing to take pot shots at Democratic Governor Jay Nixon’s handling of the state budget.  Marshall Griffin takes a look at how the 2012 session may play out.