The bills that died in the state legislature this year are either a disappointment or a victory, depending on what side of the issue or aisle you are on. The GOP-controlled General Assembly wrapped up its regular session on Friday, leaving plenty of unfinished business to hit the ground running with next year. Some of the key measures that failed this year include:
Expansion of charter schools
A proposed statewide charter school expansion made little movement. A House bill made it out of two committees but failed to appear before the full House. Charter schools are state funded schools that operate independently of traditional public schools. Under current Missouri law, they are restricted to Kansas City, St. Louis and any unaccredited school districts. Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, tells Missourinet that he supports charter schools and suggests that the legislature consider the issue again next year.
Reps. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson, and Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette, proposed to prohibit domestic violence abusers from carrying guns. Their proposals aimed to close a gun loophole created when the legislature passed in 2016 a broad expansion of the state’s gun rights. Lawmakers have failed to close the loophole during the last two sessions. Lichtenegger’s bill passed out of two committees but did not reach the House floor. McCreery’s legislation received a committee hearing but it was not voted out of committee.
Other bills targeting unions made it across the finish line this year in the supermajority Republican legislature, but a Right-to-work amendment did not. It would have changed the Missouri Constitution to prohibit union membership as a condition of employment.
Rep. Donna Lichtenegger’s proposal would have banned most abortions after a fetus is 20 weeks old. The measure would have outlawed such abortions unless a woman’s life is at risk or if there’s danger of substantial and irreversible harm to a bodily function. The House passed the legislation but it did not make it to the Senate floor.
Joinder venue liability lawsuits
Republicans want to shut down lawsuits with out-of-state defendants from filing cases in St. Louis. The bill sought to add restrictions on plaintiffs who attempt to join together in the same court case. The federal and state Supreme Courts have recently strengthened such lawsuits by requiring plaintiffs to have a connection to the state in which the case is tried. The bill would have called for the link to be even tighter.
Work requirements for food stamps
A controversial measure would have made work requirements for recipients in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. Senate Bill 561 from David Sater, R-Cassville, would have made non-exempt individuals work at least 20 hours a week or face disqualification from SNAP.
Cashing out welfare benefits at ATM machines
State Rep. J. Eggleston, R-Maysville, proposed to prohibit welfare recipients from cashing out benefits at ATM machines. His measure also would have added pornography to the list of items banned from being purchased with welfare or food stamp benefits using an electronic benefits transfer or EBT card. Under the plan, it would have included penalties, including disqualification of benefits, for misuse of welfare benefits with an EBT card on a prohibited item or a prohibited business. Eggleston’s bill was passed by a Senate committee but was not taken up by the full Senate.
Those people found to be non-compliant with the work rule would have been disqualified from the benefits for three months while repeat offenders would have lost eligibility for six months. Anybody found to be non-compliant for a third time would have been permanently disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits.
Missouri Non-Discrimination Act
For the second time in its 20-year run, an LGBT-friendly proposal made it out of a legislative committee this year. State Rep. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City sponsored the bill and is one of the legislature’s only openly gay members. Razer, who is well respected by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, proposed a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations.
All of the highlighted proposals are controversial in nature. Expect them to reappear in 2019.
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