There’s still plenty of unfinished business as the final week of the legislative session kicks off Monday.
Gov. Eric Greitens is still waiting for his fellow Republicans in the House and Senate to send him bills to ban gifts from lobbyists, create state-funded scholarships that some students could use to attend private schools and allow the Department of Revenue to issue driver’s licenses that comply with federal Real ID standards.
The latter of those could trigger a special legislative session if it’s not on the governor’s desk by 6 p.m. Friday. At least, that’s what Greitens hinted at last week while on KWIX-AM in Moberly, and press secretary Parker Briden told St. Louis Public Radio in an email that “nothing is off the table.”
But Rep. Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, hopes that won’t be necessary.
“I think that’s probably the top priority of our constituents,” she said. “If you go out and ask, that’s the one thing they want, and we’ve seen no movement from the Senate side.”
As for the lobbyist gift ban, it’s gotten tangled up in the Senate over an attempt to add a dark money ban.
That amendment was sponsored by Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph, who was the target of a recent online ad campaign paid for by A New Missouri, a nonprofit that supports Greitens’ agenda and is run by members of his gubernatorial campaign staff. However, Schaaf’s bill was laid aside Friday after several hours of debate.
House Speaker Todd Richardson says his chamber plans to vote this week on the bill that would require employees who were fired and claim discrimination to prove that race, gender or age was the main reason instead of one of a few factors.
“We’ll see,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of support for reforming employment law in this state, as there’s been for at least five of the seven years that I’ve been in the chamber, but I know the floor leader intends to get to that bill.”
And the last-in-the-nation statewide prescription drug monitoring program that would help with the state’s opioid-abuse epidemic has been on hold for more than two weeks.
When it was in the Senate, the chamber added language requiring a patient’s prescription history be purged after six months and that only opioid prescription histories be included in the database. Backers say the addition will protect patients’ privacy rights, but opponents, including the medical lobby, say it’ll make it harder to spot signs of drug abuse.
In-home health and nursing care for 8,000 low-income Missouri residents would be kept under a bill that awaits House approval. The bill also preserves eligibility for a housing tax break for low-income elderly renters.
Senate budget chair Dan Brown, R-Rolla, said the funds will provide much-needed help in a tight budget year.
And a last-minute bill is likely to pass related to the state’s Safe at Home program. The proposal, which has widespread support, would bar judges from requiring a person enrolled in a program to protect domestic abuse victims to reveal their home address. The only exception would be if the confidential address was needed to gather evidence in a criminal or civil investigation.
But there are numerous bills that’ll effectively die, having never made it to the House or Senate floor for debate, including shielding the identity of lottery winners.
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport