Legislation that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected is the top priority for Missouri House Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann, R-O’Fallon, during the 2019 session’s final two days.
Transportation funding and redistricting are the other two main priorities for Wiemann. Mandatory adjournment for the Legislature is Friday evening at 6, under the state Constitution.
Republicans control the House 114-46 and they control the Senate 24-10.
Pro Tem Wiemann hopes the Senate passes the heartbeat bill, which also requires abortion providers to increase the minimum amount of required medical malpractice insurance from $500,000 to $1 million per occurrence.
“I’m hopeful that they (Missouri Senate leaders) will finally bring it to a vote and we will move on and be a state that has one of the strongest pro-life bills in the country,” Wiemann says.
Anti-abortion state senators who are part of the Senate Conservative Caucus say there is an impasse in the Missouri Senate.
GOP Governor Mike Parson held a Statehouse press briefing on Wednesday where he called for a Senate vote, telling reporters that “the unborn deserve an up or down vote.”
State Sens. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, and Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, have been among those filibustering the abortion bill.
“I mean this is a horrible piece of legislation. I mean, you’re talking about allowing for men and women to be forced to have a child even if it’s rape or incest. And then physicians going to jail, with a felony D charge,” Nasheed tells Senate colleagues.
The House approved the legislation in late February.
Meantime, transportation and infrastructure funding is another top priority for Wiemann, in the final two days.
While lawmakers have included funding for Governor Parson’s bridge bonding plan in the budget, Wiemann notes the General Assembly must also pass the underlying bill.
“I think we have a good compromise that we put together in the House and the Senate and I’m hopeful that they (Senate leaders) will bring that bill up as well,” says Wiemann.
Wiemann tells Missourinet the bill before the Senate contains a combination of transportation bonding and funding, adding that bonding is necessary for some matching funds from the federal government.
While the Legislature has included about $350 million in bonding money in the recently-approved budget, Pro Tem Wiemann says lawmakers must approve the statutes to enact that.
“Part of the puzzle has been done but we need to finish the puzzle by passing this legislation to enable it, the funding,” Wiemann says.
He also supports what he describes as redistricting reform, which he says has “less of a chance of passing” but hopes it’s approved by the Senate.
This involves Amendment One, which was approved by Missourians in November.
Under Amendment One, a state demographer would draw state legislative districts. Wiemann says modifications need to be made to that provision. Democrats who support Amendment One oppose changes, saying 62 percent of Missouri voters approved the measure in November.
As for other legislation, Wiemann says time is the biggest factor now, saying that good bills could potentially “die on the vine.”
Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with Missouri House Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann, R-O’Fallon, which was recorded on May 15, 2019 at the Statehouse in Jefferson City:
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