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10 Bills to Watch in 2014


You’re likely going to hear plenty about Medicaid, tax reform and school transfers during the coming legislation. Here are some bills you might have missed during pre-filing that could make a sudden appearance, in no particular order.

1) SJR 32
Sponsor: Sen. Maria Chapelle Nadal, D-University City

Upon voter approval, this resolution would allow the Senate to remove the Commissioner of Education by a vote of two-thirds of its members. The bill was filed after some Democrats publicly accused Commissioner Chris Nicastro of secretly coordinating with education reform groups that favor charter school expansion by helping them write favorable ballot language. The bill will likely highlight the philosophical divide among lawmakers with regard to improving education.

2)SJR 33

Sponsor: Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D- University City

This resolution would, upon voter approval, merge the City and County of St. Louis. One of the longest standing fights in the state; any merger legislation is likely to bring plenty of debate.

3)SB 531

Sponsor: Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D- St. Louis City

Nasheed’s bill to increase minimum wage in the state to $10/hour is not likely to gain much traction in the conservative Senate. But if Nasheed’s goal is to trigger the debate — something she freely admits she delights in doing — then it is likely to be a success amidst strikes from fast food workers in St. Louis, Columbia and Kansas City last Summer and Fall that demand better wages for employees.

4)SB 511

Sponsor: Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit

The bill marks the first photo-ID bill related to voting during the session. If passed, the bill would require all voters to present a valid photo-ID issued by the state in order to cast a ballot. With Kraus long rumored to be eyeing a challenge to Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander and one Democrat in the Senate vowing to “die at my desk” before the bill ever passes, this bill is sure to create some entertaining floor and committee debate.

5)HB 1065

Sponsor: Rep. Jeff Grisamore, R-Lee’s Summit

The “Show-Me Healthy Babies Act” would expand eligibility for healthcare coverage of newborns and infants based on dire economic need. Grisamore, House Chairman for the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, is entering his final few months in the Missouri House, and looking to make a splash.

6) HB 1106

Sponsor: Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger, R-Lake St. Louis

Gatschenberger’s bill would prohibit the use of cellphones when driving unless they are connected to a hands free device. 41 states already ban texting while driving while another 37 have some restrictions on talking while driving. With so many states on the bandwagon, this bill might have an inevitable climb to Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk.

7) HB 1119

Sponsor: Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, D-Kansas City

LaFaver’s bill takes aim at the commonly known “circuit breaker” tax credit. LaFaver expands the credit by 25 percent for eligible families and business owners. In a legislature increasingly skeptical of tax credits, where the circuit breaker has struggled to stay afloat in the past, any effort to expand it should draw passionate debate.

8) HB 1122

Sponsor: Rep. Joshua Peters, D-St. Louis City

The youngest member of the Missouri Legislature didn’t join his fellow Democrats until late last spring after a special election. But Peters bill, known as the “End Racial Profiling Act,” would prohibit any profiling based on race and require the Attorney General to compile information on compliance and violations. Whether a bill on racial profiling from a black freshmen Democrat can gain any traction should be telling, as the young lawmaker is looking to cut his teeth on his first bill sponsorship.

9) HB 1148

Sponsor: Rep. Ron Hicks, R-St. Peters

Hicks bill deals with abortion, which means it is by definition controversial. His bill requires an ultrasound be conducted and reviewed with a pregnant woman prior to the legally prescribed 24-hour waiting period for an abortion. If last year’s bills dealing with abortion-inducing drugs was any indication, this bill should stir some emotions on the floor.

10) HB 1170

Sponsor: Rep. Michael Butler, D-St. Louis City

Butler’s bill is known as the “Missouri Parent/Teacher Involvement Act.” It is nearly impossible to listen to lawmakers discuss education without someone bemoaning poor parental involvement in Missouri’s worst schools. In a session likely to be filled with more controversial bills dealing with tuition and transfers, Butler’s bill to give state grants to schools conducting rigorous community outreach programs might be the cure to the often-cited ill that makes it through the legislature.