Missouri General Assembly 2016

Sen. Eric Schmitt
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 6:40 p.m. Jan. 26 with Senate vote - The Missouri Senate has given first-round approval to legislation that would place further limits on cities using fines to collect revenue. Last year's municipal court reform law restricted the percentage of money from traffic fines that could be used in city budgets. The sponsor, Republican Eric Schmitt of Glendale, says this bill would place fines from municipal code violations under the same caps:

David Sater
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

A state Senate Committee is weighing more restrictions to abortion services in Missouri. 

Testimony was heard today on a bill (SB802) that would prohibit abortions solely on the basis of prenatal screenings for Down syndrome.

Senate Minority Floor Leader Joe Keaveny, left, D-St. Louis, and House Minority Floor Leader Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis, on opening day of the 2016 Missouri legislative session.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Democrats in the Missouri House and Senate have unveiled their agenda for this year's legislative session, and it includes several items Republican leaders have no intention of moving forward.

Those items include expanding Medicaid coverage to more low-income Missourians (HB 2201 and SB 961) and expanding the state's definition of discrimination to include LGBT people (HB 2279 and SB 653).

Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, is sponsoring legislation that would implement a photo ID requirement for voting.
Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications

Two pieces of legislation that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls have been passed by the Missouri House and are on their way to the Senate.

The first, House Joint Resolution 53, is a proposed constitutional amendment to allow for a photo ID requirement, following the Missouri Supreme Court's 2006 decision tossing out an earlier photo ID law passed that same year. It's sponsored by Rep. Tony Dugger, R-Hartville, who has sponsored several photo ID proposals in recent years.

St. Louis had a large contingent at the March for Life in D.C.
Jim Howard | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

Despite the huge snowstorm threat in Washington, D.C., at least 2,000 Missouri opponents of abortion are expected to head to the nation’s capital to participate in Friday’s annual March for Life.

“Our buses are on their way,’’ said Maggie Bick, one of the coordinators for Missouri Right to Life’s annual bus caravan. A brief prayer service for the St. Louis area travelers was held Thursday morning at the Old Cathedral by St. Louis’ riverfront.

Gov. Jay Nixon makes his way to the dais in the Missouri House to deliver his last State of the State address.
Mallory Daily | St. Louis Public Radio intern

For his final state budget, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is taking no risks.

His proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 features no grand gestures of setting up new programs, and calls for limited increases for the state’s current operations.

(via Wikimedia Commons/Noahudlis)

A move to abolish the death penalty in the Show-Me State is getting a hearing before a Missouri Senate committee.

Senate Bill 816 is sponsored by Sen. Paul Weiland, R-Imperial. He told the committee on general laws that being a pro-life Republican should also include the end of life.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers will try to make the most of a short week, which could include the next batch of ethics bills.

The shorter work week is due to the Martin Luther King holiday, as well as Gov. Jay Nixon's State of the State Address Wednesday night.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri Senate committee is weighing legislation that would eliminate the 1 percent earnings tax in both St. Louis and Kansas City, effective Dec. 31, 2017.

Republican Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, who's also running for attorney general, brought his bill before the Senate committee on ways and means Thursday.  He said that a similar tax in Maryland was ruled unconstitutional, and it could cost Missouri millions of dollars if the same thing happens here.

Floor of the Missouri House during Wednesday's debate on ethics bills.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 5:49 p.m. Jan. 14 - In Missouri, it usually takes a few weeks or even a month for the first bills to be completely passed out of one chamber and sent to the other, but not this year.

The Missouri House fast-tracked four ethics bills and on Thursday passed them on to the Senate, during the first full week of the legislative session.

Shell gas station
(via Flickr/dno1967b)

Legislation being considered by the Missouri Senate would raise the state's fuel tax to provide more money for roads and bridges.

If passed, Senate Bill 623 would raise the state's tax on gasoline by 1.5 cents a gallon, to 18.8 cents a gallon. It would also raise the state tax on diesel fuel by 3.5 cents a gallon, to 20.8 cents a gallon.

A voter enters Our Lady of Guadalupe School on election day in Ferguson.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

Two companion measures that would require Missouri voters to show photo identification at the polls have been passed by a House committee.

The first one, HJR 53, is a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow for a photo ID requirement, and would need to first be passed by Missouri voters.

The Missouri House committee on government oversight and accountability passed four ethics bills on Monday and could be debated on the House floor as early as Wednesday. 1/11/16
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri House Republicans are keeping their foot on the gas as they steer the first group of ethics bills through their chamber.

Four ethics bills were heard by a House committee, then easily passed after little more than an hour's worth of discussions.

Construction on I-70
Missouri Department of Transportation

Even though transportation experts have been sounding the alarm for years, lawmakers and voters haven’t come to a definitive solution to get money funds for the state's roads and bridges. A bid to raise the state’s sales tax foundered badly in 2014, while initiatives to institute tollways have gone nowhere.

Senate Communications

Members of the news media who regularly cover the Missouri Senate will soon be doing so from another location.

The Senate voted 26-4 Thursday to bar members of the press from the floor of the Senate, including use of a table that has been reserved for reporters for decades.  The new rule takes effect March 29.

Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications

It appears that Republican leaders in the Missouri House and Senate are putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to ethics changes.

During his opening speech, House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, said he'll refer all ethics bills to committee on Thursday, a move that often takes place days, weeks, and sometimes months after the start of a legislative session.

Tax credits | Flickr

Although Missouri’s state revenue collections dropped slightly in December, the state’s budget chief says plans are still on track for Gov. Jay Nixon to base his budget proposal on a hoped-for 4.1 percent income hike during the coming fiscal year.

Missouri Budget Director Dan Haug says Nixon and the General Assembly’s budget chairmen have tentatively agreed on that income growth estimate to use in crafting budgets. Based on the 4.1 percent hike,  $360 million in additional revenue should be available for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

St. Louis Public Radio file art

Missouri lawmakers are back in Jefferson City as they prepare to kick off the 2016 legislative session at noon today.

In addition to passing the state budget, they're expected to tackle several other issues, including ethics reform and Gov. Jay Nixon's push to build a new NFL stadium for the Rams.

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, listens as state Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, explains the Fair and Impartial Policing Act. The two lawmakers are co-sponsors.
Caleb Codding | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3 p.m. with comments from Nasheed, Dogan and others - Police departments in Missouri that continually engage in racial profiling could be stripped of their certification under legislation introduced in Jefferson City on Tuesday.

The “Fair and Impartial Policing Act,” sponsored by state Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, and state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, would be the first significant update to the state’s anti-racial profiling law, which originally passed in 2000. In addition to tightening enforcement for failure to collect data, the new law also requires departments to document pedestrian as well as traffic stops and expands the information collected during the stops.

Sen. Joe Keaveny
Caleb Codding I St. Louis Public Radio

This week on the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Sen. Joe Keaveny to the program.

The St. Louis Democrat serves as the leader of the Senate Democratic caucus, a group that has consistently shrunk in numbers over the past few election cycles. But even though there's only eight members of his caucus in the 34-member Senate chamber, Keaveny and other Senate Democrats still have the power to block legislation as they see fit.

Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Ron Richard is about to spend his first full session as president pro-tem of the Missouri Senate.

He was elected to the post by his colleagues in September after Tom Dempsey resigned a year ahead of time, and shepherded the upper chamber through veto session. The Republican from Joplin also served as House Speaker from 2009 to 2010, and is the only elected official in Missouri history to lead both chambers.

Richard sat down recently with St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin and talked about what he hopes to accomplish, and about getting started as president pro-tem:

cello bridge
Turidoth | Wikipedia

Music therapists in Missouri who are fighting to institute statewide certification for the profession say that will improve access to patients and secure quality patient care.

Gov. Jay Nixon
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As he heads into his final year in office and his last legislative session, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon prefers to focus on the positive.

That means highlighting the state’s balanced budgets and drop in unemployment, and downplaying his political battles with the Republican-controlled General Assembly or the criticisms lobbed his way during the unrest ignited by the Ferguson police shooting in August 2014.

Pages