Before the vote, Democrats hammered away at Republicans’ arguments that the bill would combat voter fraud, saying there hasn’t been a documented case of voter fraud in decades – and that the bill does nothing to deal with voter registration fraud. State Representative Todd Richardson (R, Poplar Bluff) disagreed.
The bill would change the definition by making discrimination a motivating factor in any action taken by an employer against an employee, instead of a contributing factor as established by court rulings in recent years. House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones (R, Eureka) argued that the current standard is killing small businesses in Missouri.
Democrats and Republicans remain deeply divided over the issue: The 104-54 vote split along party lines, with every Republican present voting “yes,” and every Democrat “no.” Supporters argued that the bill would help prevent voter fraud. But State Representative Leonard Hughes (D, Kansas City) countered that the bill is unnecessary.
House leaders had intended to hold a first-round vote on the measure Monday, but it was delayed because of the large number of Democrats who spoke against the bill. Joe Aull (D, Marshall) used former Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton (D) as an example of how he says some elderly citizens could be disenfranchised by the bill. Aull says Skelton attempted to get a photo ID for himself after the 2006 voter ID law was passed, but he was turned down.
A Missouri judge could rule in mid-February on a lawsuit challenging new boundaries for state House districts.
The case was scheduled for a Friday hearing before Cole County Circuit Judge Pat Joyce. Instead, the judge gave attorneys on both sides a Feb. 10 deadline for submitting written arguments. Joyce could rule the following week. Candidates currently can start filing Feb. 28 for this year's elections.
Legislation has been filed in the Missouri House that would abolish the death penalty.
If the bill becomes law, any pending executions in Missouri would be halted, and all inmates sentenced to death would be re-sentenced to life without probation or parole. It’s sponsored by State Representative Penny Hubbard (D, St. Louis). She says she doesn’t believe that capital punishment is an effective deterrent.
Voters who don’t have a photo ID would be required to use provisional ballots, which would be counted once their identities are correctly verified. It passed 7 to 3 on a straight party line vote, with every Republican on the House Elections Committee voting “yes” and every Democrat voting “no.” The sponsor, House Speaker Pro-tem Shane Schoeller (R, Willard), says the bill shouldn’t be divisive.
Another legal challenge over Missouri's redistricting process seeks to block new districts for the 163-member state House.
In a lawsuit filed Monday, more than a dozen people, including two former lawmakers, say a new House district map violates requirements that districts be compact, contiguous and have similar populations. The plaintiffs are asking the Supreme Court to consider the case without it going before a trial court.
A panel of appellate judges drew up the map of new districts for the Missouri House after the 2010 census.