Missouri legislative committees will hear several bills this week involving education, elections, and celebrations with gunfire.
The Missouri Senate Education Committee meets Tuesday at noon to hear a bill from committee chairwoman State Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, R-Shelbina. It requires the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to annually publish a list of schools on its website that perform in the bottom five percent of schools for more than three years. Under O’Laughlin’s bill, districts with any school falling in the bottom five percent of schools for three years over a five-year period that started in 2018 would close the school and transfer those students to a higher-performing school in the district.
The Missouri House Emerging Issues Committee meets Wednesday at 4:30 to hold a hearing on legislation from State Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, which involves transgender athletes in high school. Basye’s House Joint Resolution 53 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would go to Missouri voters in 2022. It would require that students who participate in sex-separated athletic contests only be allowed to participate in those events for the biological sex found on the student’s birth certificate.
The Missouri House Elections and Elected Officials committee meets Wednesday at noon to hear key election-related bills from State Reps. Justin Hill, R-Lake St. Louis, and Don Rone, R-Portageville.
Hill’s legislation requires the use of paper ballots marked by hand, starting in January 2022. Ballot marking devices could be used to assist disabled voters at any time, under the bill.
The Rone measure repeals the 2020 legislation that allowed mail-in ballots during the COVID pandemic. Mail-in ballots were allowed during the August and November elections.
And the Missouri House General Laws Committee meets Monday at 5 p.m.to hold three public hearings on bipartisan legislation known as Blair’s Law, which is aimed at celebratory gunfire in Missouri.
The bills are sponsored by State Reps. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, Rory Rowland, D-Independence, and Mark Sharp, D-Kansas City. The bills are named for Blair Shanahan Lake, an 11-year-old Kansas City child who was struck and killed by a stray bullet in 2011.
While the three bills are very similar, there is language differences in them. Schroer’s bill would add the discharging of a firearm within or into city limits with criminal negligence to the felony offense of unlawful use of a weapon. The Rowland bill makes it a class A misdemeanor.
The Sharp bill has graduated penalties. Under his bill, the first offense would be a class A misdemeanor while a second offense would be a class E felony. A third or subsequent offense would be a class D felony.
Two high-profile bills are expected to be debated this week on the Senate floor. Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, tells our Sullivan affiliate KTUI that he expects Senator O’Laughlin’s school choice legislation to come up again this week. He also expects the Senate to debate his proposal to increase Missouri’s gasoline tax by 15 cents per gallon by 2027.
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