It’s almost time: The prelude to the 2021 legislative session will begin with the pre-filing of bills this week.
The pre-filing process — detailed in the Senate rules — is set to begin on Dec. 1 and can set the stage for each party’s legislative priorities for the year.
“Truth be told, there isn’t much practical advantage to a low bill number. Bills aren’t debated in the order they’re filed,” Adrian Crouse, the secretary of the Senate, has explained. “But it never hurts to be first. Bills are referred to legislative committees in numerical order so pre-filed measures may stand a greater chance of being heard in committee.”
Read on for a look at how the process works and what that’s meant in past legislative sessions.
How pre-filing works
The structure for pre-filing is laid out in Senate Rule 44.
While members and members-elect can begin sending bills and joint resolutions to the secretary of the Senate for the upcoming legislative session on July 1 every year, numbers aren’t assigned until the beginning of December.
For this year, that process will start on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Senate rules dictate bill and resolution numbers will be based on the seniority of the senator who filed the legislation, with a limit of three bills or joint resolutions per rotation of the seniority list.
For 2021, that list is:
|1. Dan Hegeman||18. Lincoln Hough|
|2. Paul Wieland||19. Justin Brown|
|3. Jeanie Riddle||20. Tony Luetkemeyer|
|4. Dave Schatz||21. Cindy O’Laughlin|
|5. Bob Onder||22. Karla May|
|6. Jill Schupp||23. Brian Williams|
|7. Denny Hoskins||24. Holly Rehder|
|8. Andrew Koenig||25. Rick Brattin|
|9. Caleb Rowden||26. Elaine Gannon|
|10. Bill Eigel||27. Mike Moon|
|11. John Rizzo||28. Karla Eslinger|
|12. Sandy Crawford||29. Jason Bean|
|13. Mike Cierpiot||30. Doug Beck|
|14. Lauren Arthur||31. Greg Razer|
|15. Mike Bernskoetter||32. Steven Roberts|
|16. Eric Burlison||33. Barbara Washington|
|17. Bill White||34. Angela Walton Mosley|
Once pre-filed, bills and resolutions can only be altered to fix typographical or drafting errors that do not impact the substance or intent.
By the numbers
In 2020, the Senate pre-filed 334 bills and 24 joint resolutions. The governor signed 12 Senate bills at the end of the year.
In comparison, the Senate introduced a total of 518 bills — and 233 of those were pre-filed — in 2019. Then, 34 pre-filed Senate bills were truly agreed and finally passed by the General Assembly; 32 got the governor’s signature.
In 2018, 303 of 558 bills considered were pre-filed. And in 2017, nearly 250 of the 544 bills introduced were filed before the official start of the session.
The first day of the upcoming legislative session is set for Jan. 6, 2021.
This story has been updated. It was originally published in November 2019.
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.