JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – It’s not often that the Missouri Senate passes a number of bills out of the body in a single day, particularly in early March, but more than a dozen bills received final approval before the Senate adjourned on Thursday. In all, the Senate signed off on more than 30 bills over the course of the week.
Coming into the chamber, the Senate expected a shorter day, having spent the previous night working into the evening.
Taking up bills for third reading shortly after 10:30 a.m., the Senate began the process by bringing forward a number of bills that had recently returned from fiscal oversight.
The first bill passed was Sen. Bob Dixon’s SB 632 & 675, which deals with tax credits for contributions to “certain benevolent organizations.” It passed with a 28-3 vote.
The next bill brought forward is one that has received the endorsement of Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt. Speaking before the Senate, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Denny Hoskins, told the members of the body that, as part of the new federal tax reforms, a 529 education account can now be rolled into MO ABLE accounts, which are used by those individuals living with disabilities. The bill, Hoskins said, would ensure they would not be penalized for converting the funds from one to another. It passed with a 30-0 vote.
Sen. Dave Schatz’s SB 600 also passed, dealing with new provisions relating to professional employer organizations with penalty provisions.
“This is a bill that has been around this body for a number of years,” Schatz said. “It took a lot of effort to get insurance providers together and come to an agreement.”
Sen. Wayne Wallingford’s age seeking to raise the age of children who are prosecuted for most criminal offenses proved to be a favorite of the body. It would require that children under the age of 18 would be tried as juveniles unless certified as an adult.
“A lot of these youth are already traumatized, and putting them in the adult system will only exacerbate that,” Wallingford said.
Sen. Chappelle-Nadal thanked him for sponsoring the legislation, saying that her constituents appreciate the bill, a sentiment shared by several senators. That was echoed with their unanimous 31-0 vote to pass the bill out of the body.
Sen. Doug Libla was pleased to see the passage of his bill, SB 894/921, which would establish a statewide STEM career awareness program. The legislation would seek to bring computer science into classrooms, in an effort to better prepare students as technology continues growing. Libla said it would be a great opportunity and lead to better-paying jobs for students down the road, learning skills that are relevant in the current day and age. It passed with a 31-0 vote.
Sen. Brian Munzlinger’s SB 627 & 925 became a sort of agricultural omnibus this week, which he told the Senate “deals with everything from bison to honeybees”. Munzlinger described it more as a collection of eight different bills.
Earlier in the week, the bill had been a point of contention with some senators, who expressed some concerns about the captive cervid portion of the bill. Munzlinger stated that the overall intent with that piece of the bill was to allow venison to be processed and sold, noting that restaurants would then be able to purchase and sell the meat, as well as provide a need for dog food companies, who said they could use up to six million pounds of the meat in their production.
It passed with a 24-7 vote.
The Senate also passed Sen. Dan Hegeman’s SB 592, which seeks to streamline election processes and reform some election provisions, as well as SB 683, dealing with the transportation of construction cranes, SB 768, which would allow telephone companies to select an alternate method of property tax assessments, and SB 881, which deals with laws concerning special license plates.
After that, the Senate moved to the consent calendar, first taking up Sen. Wasson’s SB 631, which creates a tax credit for contributions to charitable organizations. It passed with a vote of 30-0.
The substitute for SB 946 & 947, sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, which makes changes in regard to powers of appointment with trusts, as well as gifts in fraud and marital rights.
“Items that may have been given away prior to marriage or dissolution would be clearly defined as whatever that date was,” Dixon said. “If something was given away with the intent of defrauding the spouse, the courts need a date.”
It also passed with a 30-0 vote.
SB 819, which deals with provisions regarding foster care, was also approved with a 30-0 vote.