The Missouri Legislature gets back to work Monday and several hot button topics are on the menu.

Senate bills that could come up for debate this week include one that would expand a private schooling tax credit program statewide. The plan, sponsored by Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, would let donors provide scholarships for students to attend a private Missouri K-12 school. In return, they would get state tax credits. The bill would also expand charter schools to Boone, St. Charles, and St. Louis Counties.

Another Senate proposal that could reach the debate level this week would make it tougher for voter-approved constitutional amendments to pass. The resolution, sponsored by Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, is a GOP priority this legislative session.

Current law requires that any proposed constitutional amendment or new constitution must be approved by a simple majority of the votes cast on the measure. Coleman’s proposal would require all proposed constitutional amendments and new constitutions to receive a majority of the votes cast statewide as well as a majority of the votes cast in at least a majority of the state house districts.

Additionally, the General Assembly would be given exclusive authority to enact laws enforcing provisions in the Constitution relating to initiative petitions that propose constitutional amendments.

Over in the Missouri House of Representatives, that chamber could debate this week whether to allow tax credits to help the state dig out of a childcare crisis. Rep. Brenda Shields, R-St. Joseph, is sponsoring a package that would provide tax credits to childcare providers, donors to daycare centers, and businesses who help to cover the childcare costs of their employees.

The lower chamber could also debate a bill that would allow people to carry concealed guns on public transportation and in places of worship. Rep. Adam Schnelting, R-St. Charles, is sponsoring the bill that would also lower the age requirement to 18 years of age or older for a concealed carry permit. The current age minimum is at least 19 years old.

The Missouri House Budget Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee will be holding hearings this week to jump into Gov. Mike Parson’s Fiscal Year 2025 budget proposal. They will be hearing from a variety of state departments on their budget requests. The price tag of Parson’s budget wish list is shy of $53 billion.

On Tuesday, the Missouri House Elections and Elected Officials Committee is set to hear a proposal that would change the process to vote on an initiative petition. Rep. Hardy Billington, R-Poplar Bluff, wants to require signatures from 8% of the legal voters in all of the state’s congressional districts in order to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot through initiative petition.

Current Missouri law requires signatures for initiative petitions proposing amendments to the state constitution to have 8% of the legal voters in two-thirds of the state’s congressional districts in order to be placed on the ballot.

Another proposal the members are scheduled to hear would redistribute the number of years that members of the Missouri Legislature could serve in a chamber. Current state law limits members to serving no more than eight years total in any one chamber, nor more than 16 total in both chambers. Upon voter approval, the resolution, sponsored by Rep. Mike Stephens, R-Bolivar, would remove the single chamber prohibition, allowing members of the General Assembly to serve no more than 16 years total in either chamber.

The Missouri House General Laws Committee is scheduled to hear a bill Tuesday that would increase the minimum age allowed to buy tobacco and electronic cigarette products from 18 to 21 years old. Rep. Brad Christ, R-St. Louis, is sponsoring the proposal.

An open enrollment bill is in Tuesday’s lineup for a Missouri Senate education committee. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Curtis Trent, R-Springfield, would allow K-12 students to transfer to a school district outside of the one where they live.

The Missouri Senate Emerging Issues Committee is set to hear a bill Tuesday that would allow the use of a psychedelic, called psilocybin, in certain instances to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, substance misuse disorder, or for end-of-life care. Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder, R-Scott City, is sponsoring the bill that would involve the creation of a program to test the use of the drug, also referred to as magic mushrooms, in a controlled setting.

On Wednesday, Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Russell will deliver the annual State of the Judiciary address to state lawmakers. First delivered in 1974, the state of the judiciary provides an opportunity to bring together all three branches of government and the public to learn more about the state courts’ accomplishments and priorities. The speech will take place in the Missouri House of Representatives’ chamber.

Both chambers are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. on Monday.

Copyright 2024, Missourinet.