JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Every year since 2008, the House has passed a bill requiring photo voter identification and each year, it has failed to reach the governor’s desk after being stymied in the Senate.
This year’s iteration of those bills have begun their journey, and many Republicans are hoping to see those laws come into effect before this year’s general election.
Reps. Justin Alferman and Tony Dugger presented their bills, HB 1631 and HJR 53 respectively, to the Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee Monday afternoon. Alferman, as he noted during debate in the House believes this bill will be different than past bills.
“The most important change is that we’ve made safeguards in this bill to make sure the state pays for 100 percent of the cost,” Alferman said. He said the $17 million fiscal note (paid at varying degrees over the course of three years) would be used to provide source documentation required for identifications, the photo identification itself and to inform citizens about the ID changes.
The funding also comes with a catch. If the bill does not get its funding, the photo voter ID changes simply do not occur.
“We can’t bind the hands of future legislators or the appropriation of future legislators,” Alferman said. “If for some reason they decide not to fund this legislation, it will not go into effect.”
Democrats on the committee were not convinced the fiscal note covered the true cost needed to provide photo IDs to the 220,000 people in Missouri that lacked identification as of 2013, a figure provided by Secretary of State Jason Kander’s office. A spokesman from Kander’s office testified in opposition to the bill as he did last week. Republicans disputed that number’s relevance.
Sen. Jill Schupp, D-St. Louis, questioned if the bill had to be fully funded to go into effect, and Sen. Joe Keaveny, D-St. Louis, believes the money is $17 million to stop a problem – voter impersonation fraud – the state does not have. Keaveny also wondered if the money appropriated to the bill would come out of higher education or health care.
“Where is that money going to come from?” he asked.
Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summitt, who has endorsed this legislation as part of his run for the secretary of state’s office, is confident that the expedited pace of the this year’s legislation will make them law by September.
“Voter ID is a higher priority for the Senate this year, and it is moving much faster than in past sessions,” Kraus said. “This gives us more time to work through the opposition to the legislation.”