Members of the Missouri Legislature could have some long nights during these final two weeks of the regular session. Lawmakers are expected to focus their time and effort on passing a balanced fiscal year 2020 state budget by Friday’s deadline, settling on an infrastructure funding plan and an incentives package to offer to automotive giant GM.

Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan) speaks to Capitol reporters on February 21, 2019 (photo courtesy of Senate Communications)

State officials used the weekend to gather a plan to pitch to GM, in hopes of landing a possible $1 billion expansion at the Wentzville plant in eastern Missouri. Senate President Dave Schatz, Republican-Sullivan, says workforce development measures and additional infrastructure changes in that region are expected to be a part of the plan, among other things.

“Specifically, to traffic issues that revolve around Wentzville. So, there will be some of the cost share funds that are in the current budget right now that could be utilized to address some of those issues,” says Schatz.

As of Monday afternoon, Schatz tells Missourinet lawmakers are finalizing the language in the bill.

Republican leadership is confident an incentives package will make it to the governor’s desk by the end of the regular session.

Meanwhile, the Senate could debate whether to legalize sports betting in Missouri. Several related bills have been filed in both chambers. Two Senate sports betting bills are awaiting Senate debate and another is awaiting a Senate committee decision.

“I don’t think that a sports betting conversation is absolutely gone by the wayside yet,” says Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia.

Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia

Two of Missouri’s bordering states – Iowa and Tennessee – passed measures this session that would legalize sports betting. The bills await action by their governors. Indiana and Montana have passed similar legislation.

Rowden thinks a proposed expansion of charter schools has a “tough path” in the final weeks. A House proposal would let charter schools open in Missouri cities or charter counties with a population of at least 30,000.

“I am about as certain as I know how to be that we would have the votes to pass a charter expansion bill out of the Senate,” he says. “With some of the issues that the sponsor had in the House and some other family illnesses that have kept a couple House members, I think their path is a little tougher.”

House bill sponsor Rebecca Roeber, R-Lee’s Summit, was in a serious car crash earlier this year that has kept her from returning to the Legislature.

Current law allows charter schools in Kansas City, St. Louis and any unaccredited Missouri school district. Charter schools are publicly funded that operate independently of traditional public schools.

Several other bills could make an appearance in the next two weeks, including a statewide prescription drug monitoring program, further abortion regulations, banning private companies from using eminent domain to build above ground utility lines and restricting Missouri counties from enforcing regulations tougher than the state for large cattle operations.

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