With a little more than a month before lawmakers are due back in Jefferson City for the 2020 legislative session, pre-filing opened Monday.
The pre-filing process, annually set for the beginning of December, gives lawmakers a chance to set the stage for the upcoming session.
Read on for an overview of bills and priorities brought up during pre-filing. (This post will be updated throughout the week. Check back for more updates.)
Sen. Denny Hoskins is once again putting forth legislation aimed at legalizing and setting regulations for sports betting and video lottery terminals (VLTs).
Hoskins’ VLT bill, similar to legislation filed last year, would allow the Missouri Lottery Commission to implement VLTs and control the issuance of licenses to operators, retailers, and more. The bill would allow for VLTs to be placed in veteran and fraternal organizations, truck stops, and establishments serving alcohol.
The Republican state senator is also championing legislation that would allow the commission to set guidelines for and allow lottery games based on sporting events involving at least two teams. The bill included a provision for royalty fees, or integrity fee, of 0.0025 percent to the registered sports body. That royalty fee is also applied to NCAA basketball and football games.
Sen. Dave Schatz also filed legislation giving the Missouri Gaming Commission authority to investigate and hamper illegal gaming in the state.
The legislation follows a series of hearings held by state representatives during the interim.
Democratic Sen. Jill Schupp is pushing legislation to expand MO HealthNet, Missouri’s Medicaid program. The bill would expand eligibility to those who make less than $17,000 per year.
“A consequence of Missouri’s current policy is that hundreds of thousands of Missourians have to choose between having a job and having health care coverage. This is wrong and it must change,” Schupp said in a statement. “Years of excuses have left Missouri lagging behind other states which have already improved and expanded Medicaid.”
Several lawmakers across the board have pointed to property tax issues as a priority for 2020. Sen. Bill Eigel told The Missouri Times he filed a constitutional amendment that would limit the amount a property assessment could increase in a year.
And Rep. Sonya Anderson also pre-filed a constitutional amendment. Hers would create a real and personal property tax exemption for veterans who suffer from combat-related injuries and have a total disability rating of at least 80 percent per the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Sen. Scott Sifton filed a bill modifying certain property tax provisions. His SB 547 would increase the amount St. Louis County residents can request for reimbursement after successfully appealing a property tax assessment to $6,000 for residential and the lesser of $10,000 or 25 percent of the tax savings from the appeal for others.
GOP Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer is tackling violent crime with several pieces of legislation pre-filed Monday. One bill addresses organized crime while another would strengthen penalties for individuals who use guns and other dangerous weapons to commit felonies. The latter would also increase mandatory sentences.
Another bill would eliminate probation for repeat and “dangerous” offenders.
Sen. Bob Onder, too, filed legislation which would increase the minimum penalty for someone who is convicted of a felony while using a dangerous weapon to no less than five years in prison. Now, the minimum sentence is three years.
Criminal justice reform
Sen. Kiki Curls, who was the first to pre-file bills under Senate rules, is once again championing changes to the expungement process. Her SB 519 would allow legal aid organizations or clinics the ability to obtain information from the Missouri Central Repository as opposed to just private entities related to probation supervision.
Additionally, Sen. Jamilah Nasheed has filed legislation which would allow certain individuals on probation or parole after a felony conviction the right to vote.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.