Missouri lawmakers have wrapped up the 2012 legislative session. They passed 115 bills this year, nearly 50 of them on the final day alone. But as St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin tells us, several high-priority issues didn’t make it to the finish line.
What didn't pass
2012 was not a good year for public school legislation. Lawmakers failed to pass bills that would have revised the K-12 funding formula, addressed student transfers from unaccredited districts, and allowed quicker state intervention in the Kansas City school district. Lawmakers also failed to address the cash-strapped Second Injury Fund, and a Senate bill that would have cut back on historic preservation tax credits while creating new incentives for amateur sporting events was never brought up in the House. Tim Jones (R, Eureka) is that chamber’s Majority Floor Leader.
“We could always hope to do more, being in an election year," Jones said. "I am actually standing here very pleasantly, maybe a little surprised and very excited about everything we accomplished.”
What did make it
Those accomplishments include allowing charter schools in other parts of the state besides St. Louis and Kansas City, and a scaled-back workers’ comp bill that bars employees from suing each other over workplace injuries and illnesses. Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey (R, St. Charles) says that measure will provide some relief to small business owners. He also suggests that there were more than enough accomplishments to avoid having to return to Jefferson City for a special session.
“We passed a balanced budget that’s actually below the governor’s recommended budget numbers," Dempsey said. "We’re making college transfers easier and more affordable, putting more requirements on child care…sentencing guidelines (for crack cocaine crimes), what a big achievement that was.”
The Senate and House also passed a measure that, if approved by voters, would bar the governor from creating a health insurance exchange via executive order – and they passed legislation that would allow employers to opt out of providing birth control coverage for religious reasons. Governor Jay Nixon (D) says he’ll carefully review that bill before taking any action.
“I believe in the right of folks to practice the faith they believe, and I also believe women have the right to access contraception," Nixon said. "We already have a strong religious exemption on the books...this is an area we’ve dealt with in the past.”
Governor Nixon has until mid-July to sign or veto most of the bills passed by the legislature. The deadline for signing the state budget into law is June 30th.