The Missouri House passed the state’s $28 billion budget this week. This budget marks the first time the House has fully funded the K-12 foundation formula since this formula was passed in 2005. The House also restored the K-12 transportation budget to last year’s level. The Senate Appropriations Committee will begin working on its changes to the budget next week. The Senate budget chair, Dan Brown (R-Rolla), has said he does not think the Senate will maintain the House’s education funding level, which means an agreement on funding will have to be worked out in a conference committee in early May.
Governor Greitens Prioritizes Rural Broadband
Governor Greitens announced a $6 million program to cover gaps between what schools could afford and a federal matching grant. There are roughly 100 school districts in Missouri that currently lack high speed internet connections. Governor Greitens has announced that with this state fund and the federal fund, every school in Missouri that wants to access high speed internet will now have the resources to do so.
Tort Reform Measures Continue Advancing
Each chamber sent legislation that would ensure insurance companies have adequate time to review claims before deciding to settle to the other chamber. Additionally, a House Bill that contains the same provision and a tort reform measure that is referred to as reservation of rights was voted out of committee and could be debated on the Senate Floor soon.
Bill Proposing Changes to Bonding has Hearing
Representative Rob Vescovo’s (R-Jefferson County) bill that changes the law regarding the sale of public bonds to require some political subdivisions to issue debt at public sale was heard in in the House Ways and Means Committee early this week. Additionally Representative Vescovo added this language as an amendment on a Senate Bill in the House.
Senator Schaaf Makes Major Announcement on Prescription Drug Monitoring
This week took an unexpected turn when Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) announced he was ending his nearly decade long opposition to a bill that would make Missouri the 50th state to adopt a prescription drug monitoring program. Schaaf stipulated that in order for the bill to keep his support there would have to be an amendment added that mandated utilization of the PDMP by doctors. This amendment will likely be fought by several physician groups.
Education Savings Accounts Get Senate Floor Time
Senator Andrew Koenig’s (R-Manchester) education savings account bill was debated on the Senate floor for about 90 minutes Tuesday morning. The bill was laid over when Senator Scott Sifton (D-Affton) attempted to add a 100 page amendment that was nearly identical to the transfer bill vetoed by Governor Nixon in 2014.
REAL ID One Step Closer
The Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee heard the House version of Real ID this week. Missouri is one of a handful of states that has not complied with the Federal Real ID law. If Missouri does not come into compliance before January, 2018, Missourians will not be able to fly domestically without a passport or enter military bases and other federal facilities without alternative forms of ID.
Governor Greitens’ Appointments
After three weeks of delay and a private meeting with Governor Greitens, the Senate confirmed several of the Governor’s appointments. The Senate Republicans held the appointments up because they were upset about the Governor’s executive order on paid family leave. Governor Greitens met with the Caucus on Wednesday to discuss they executive order, and as a result the following appointments were confirmed on Thursday:
- Darryl Chapman, Jeff Layman and Jamie Farmer to the University of Missouri Board of Curators
- James Bean as State Fire Marshall
- Craig Frazier and Carol Silvey to the Missouri State Board of Governors
Additionally the Senate Committee on Gubernatorial Appointments held a confirmation hearing on Governor Greitens’ nominee to run the Missouri Department of Insurance, Chlora Lindley-Myers, who was previously the deputy commissioner of the same department in Tennessee.
Lastly, Governor Greitens appointed Anna Hui as the Director of the Department of Labor. Hui is currently Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Labor.