Nearly 300 Senate and more than 500 House proposals have been filed so far for the 2018 Missouri legislative session. The issues the Republican-controlled legislature are expected to focus on during the regular session include further restrictions to liability lawsuits and abortions, a proposed statewide expansion of charter schools, whether to repeal a minimum wage requirement for public construction projects on things like fire stations and courthouses, proposed restrictions to lobbyist gifts to lawmakers and balancing the next state budget, among many other things.
Here’s a look at some of the other measures the General Assembly will also consider in 2018:
State Rep. Mike Moon, R- Ash Grove, wants the state to launch a terrorist offender registry for those convicted, found guilty or have pled guilty to committing, attempting to commit or conspiring to perform a terrorist act. Other state legislatures have considered similar measures.
State Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, is proposing to allow Missourians to electronically sign ballot measures that have been approved for circulation. He wants to require the Secretary of State to create a website where petition signatures could be submitted.
State Rep. Lindell Shumake, R-Hannibal, is again proposing to ask voters to support the authorization of $63 million in bonds for Missouri’s veterans homes. The bonds could be used to make changes to existing facilities and possibly replace the one in mid-Missouri’s Mexico.
Shumake also wants to eliminate the requirement that the attorney general must reside in Missouri’s capital city. The measure is in response to a lawsuit filed against Attorney General Josh Hawley for having his primary residence in Ashland – about 15 minutes from Jefferson City.
Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, is proposing to make Missourians ineligible to receive food stamp benefits during any month an individual is delinquent in child support payments. A disqualification would apply to the individual and not to the entire household. Someone who is delinquent in child support could be exempt if a court has allowed the individual to delay payment, they are complying with a payment plan or the Department of Social Services determines the person has good cause.
Sen. Kiki Curls, D-Kansas City, wants to require cost-of-living adjustments for certain statewide elected officials, legislators and judges if such adjustments are provided to all other state employees. She’s proposing to ask voters for approval of the issue.
Sen. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, has filed legislation that would repeal the death penalty in Missouri. Wieland has filed the bill each session he’s been in the legislature. He has said that it’s possible to be tough on crime without using the death penalty. A similar measure has been filed in the House.
State Rep. Gary Cross, R-Lee’s Summit, is proposing to eliminate personal property taxes. The state legislature will consider in the upcoming session Cross’s measure that would let Missourians decide on the issue. Similar proposals have been filed by other lawmakers.
Other contentious issues making a return in 2018 include what to do about nursing home and in-home care funding stripped away from about 8,000 Missourians this year. Lawmakers are expected to work together to find a long-term solution to the issue.
The Missouri Legislature will also be asked again to consider ways to increase funding for the state’s deteriorating roads and bridges. A task force has been working to compile recommendations for the General Assembly to consider next year. Lawmakers are likely to consider an increase in the gasoline tax – an issue they have been butting heads on for years. Missouri’s fuel tax of 17 cents is one of the lowest in the nation and hasn’t been increase in more than two decades.
Changes to ratemaking adjustment methods for public utilities are also expected to make a return. Opponents of such measures say utility rates would drastically increase while supporters say increases would be minimal and would help utilities to make aging infrastructure improvements.
The gavel is scheduled to sound at noon on January 3 in Jefferson City for the start of the legislature’s next regular session.