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Reps strip nondiscrimination bill from Children and Families Committee

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — House members used a rare procedural move to strip a bill barring discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity from the House Children and Families Committee this week. 

HB 275 from Rep. Tom Hannegan was relieved from the committee chaired by GOP Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman after 55 representatives signed onto a discharge petition filed with the chief clerk. Sources said lawmakers moved to strip the bill out of the committee after Coleman refused to hear it. 

House rules stipulate bills cannot be removed from a committee unless one-third of House members (55) sign onto a discharge petition filed with the chief clerk. The petition is published in the House Journal, and the bill is placed back on the calendar. A bill cannot be taken from a committee until 10 legislative days have passed after it was referred to the committee.

Aside from Hannegan, the bill sponsor, a majority of the petition signers were Democrats. 

The last time a discharge petition was used to remove a bill from a House committee was in 2010, according to Dana Rademan Miller, chief clerk. Then, SB 577 (an ethics bill), HB 2300 (a lobbying and ethics bill), and HB 2116 (a payday loans bill) were all removed from committees in April; none successfully made it through. 

Three bills were removed from committee in 2005, and another three bills were removed from committee in 2003, including two during an extraordinary session. None of the bills in 2005 were successful. But the two relieved from committee during the 2003 extraordinary session — both appropriating education funding from then-Rep. Carl Bearden — were approved by the General Assembly and signed by the governor.

Historically, bills that have been removed from a committee are not successful because it’s seen as a way to try to get around the rules or a committee. Bearden’s were an exception, he said, because they were the exact same legislation that already went through committee but had been vetoed by the governor. 

“In general, it’s looked at as a circumvention of the process. In the past — and most likely here in the present — the fact that it’s going to bypass all that is usually a bad sign, and leadership doesn’t want to set that precedent,” Beardon said. “As a rule of thumb, the floor leader and speaker generally look at that as circumvention.” 

HB 275 would include sexual identity and gender along with race, religion, and age, among other things, as protections from discrimination among employment, financing, housing, and more. A similar bill was assigned to the House General Laws Committee last year, which Coleman sat on, but was never heard.