Governor Mike Parson has signed five bills into law since replacing Eric Greitens as head of state, but 61 other measures await his attention.
Among the bills signed by Parson Friday was one dealing extensively with the Department of Natural Resources.
It gives the agency the authority to establish rules and approve target levels for the management of “coal ash” from coal-burning power plants. Critics say utility companies wanted the bill passed quickly in order to skirt federal EPA requirements set to go take effect in October.
The law further does away with the requirement for most farms to have a permit to discharge water from storms or irrigation into the state’s rivers and streams.
It also calls for the Department of Natural Resources to establish a “Radioactive Waste Investigations Fund” to investigate concerns of exposure to radioactive waste. The provision will address a recent federal report concluding that “radiological contamination” in North St. Louis County could have increased residents’ risk of cancer.
Parson also signed a law extending the sales tax holiday that occurs in early August to cover diapers.
The biggest piece of legislation still in front of Governor Parson is the state budget which allocates the distribution of $28.65 billion of which almost $9.5 billion is general revenue money handled by the legislature.
The portions covering the Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Social Services include a contentious provision stipulating that no state money will be spent on health providers that provide abortions.
The Department of Social Services has already suspended Medicaid reimbursements for family planning to Planned Parenthood, the only provider of abortions in the state, prior to the budget being signed into law.
Among the other bills yet to be undertaken by Parson one to reduce the individual state income tax from 5.9%-to-5.5%. The measure would also gradually cut the rate to 5.1% if the state had meets targets for income tax growth.
Another bill awaiting the attention of the Republican governor would partially repeal the state’s prevailing wage law. The GOP majority has worked on the measure for years before it finally passed the legislature this year. Critics of prevailing wage, which sets pay standards on public works projects based on location, say wages in rural areas are inflated. Democrats say the change in the law will harm workers.
Former Republican Governor Eric Greitens signed more than half the bills passed by the legislature this year, 77 out of 143, into law on his last day in office.
Upon signing his first five bills Friday, Parson praised lawmakers for their efforts. “The legislature should be proud of the work that was done this year,” said Parson. “Many significant bills were passed during this very productive session,”
The bills sent to the governor we’re all signed by House and Senate leaders on May 30th. The governor has 45 days from that point to either sign or veto them. If the governor fails to take action on any bill, it becomes law on its own after being sent to the Secretary of State for authentication.
Parson will have until July 14th to leave his mark on the 61 bills still before him.