Lawmakers ready for floor debates

By | March 25, 2016

Last week was hectic for several reasons. Bill filing closed on Tuesday and there was a last minute rush to get bills ready.

It is really too late for the normal process to play out but some single issue amendments might be added to bills that have gone through the process earlier. lant, bill mug2

It was also time for all the “consent” bills to be heard. These bills are usually highway naming and public awareness issues and don’t warrant too much time on the floor but are really important to the constituents of the various sponsors.  It caused us to have a couple of evening sessions but we did get them all finished prior to the deadline.

We also addressed a lot of “clean up” legislation. These bills are usually very short and don’t have a lot of opposition. Many of them are just common sense issues but unless they are added to statute, the legal community has a field day contending that the law isn’t clear enough.

A few of them worth noting are HB 1386 which allows a $500 dollar tax credit to volunteer firemen who complete 12 hours of training in a year, HB 1583 which toughens the bullying in schools act,  HB 2180 which allows County Commissioners to combine road districts, HB 2186 which adds a Constitution Project to the A+ requirement for schools, HB 1610 allows dual credit for some high school courses with two and four year colleges, and HB 1710 expands options for school teacher retirement.

My HB 2355, which creates the Juvenile Justice advisory board, was also sent to the Senate.

HB 1370 took up about an hour and a half of floor debate time. It provides that a minor may not get an abortion without the notification of both parents. The bill has a lot of provisions to qualify both parents but it did finally receive a bi-partisan overwhelming vote to send it to the Senate.

HB 1983 with Senate Amendments was passed and sent to the governor. It provides that Statewide elected officials and members of the General Assembly cannot be compensated in any way for consultant work. This is just one part of the comprehensive ethics reform that the House and Senate are committed to this session.

The leadership of both the House and Senate have confirmed that ethics reform will be an ongoing process and we can expect additional bills next session to improve upon our rules.

The House exercised the power given to it by Amendment 10 and overrode the Governor on his last session withhold of funds for the “Brain Injury Fund” and the “Missouri Scholars and Fine Arts Academy.” Both programs together amount to less than $1 million dollars and actual revenue growth was over 2% better than the Governor forecast.

The Easter break signals that the Legislative Session is now half over. No more bills may be filed this session and the House is ready to take up the Senate bills that have been sent to us and the Senate will begin work on our bills.

The Committee process slows down considerably and we will have more time for floor debate and conferences. This is also the time that bills are refined down to amendments. If a bill sponsor is willing to allow an amendment to their legislation, some great ideas can be added to bills that have already started the process.

Usually, only the most important part of a bill is added as an amendment and it must fit within the chapter in law that is opened and be “germane” to the subject matter.

We had a great time at the Short-Poyner Community Room Dedication on Friday night. There was a large turnout to honor Joyce Short and Gary Poyner’s family for their lifelong positive efforts for their communities.

We also attended the Southwest City School Carnival. They had a great pulled pork dinner and I lucked out in the auction and got one of Mindy O’Brien’s pies!

More next week, until then I am and remain in your service.

By Bill Lant

(State Rep. Bill Lant, R-Pineville, represents the 159th District of Missouri, which includes Seneca and all of McDonald County. He can be reached in his Capitol office at (573) 751-9801 or by email at bill.lant@house.mo.gov.)

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