Missouri lawmakers open spring session today
Jefferson City, MO – Missouri lawmakers begin their spring session today (Wednesday) in Jefferson City.
Ceremonies will begin with the swearing in of new office-holders, including St. Louis area Democrats Jeff Smith and Ryan McKenna, who will become Senators.
A number of new state Representatives from the St. Louis area also will be sworn in today. They include: Democrats Jake Zimmerman, Jamilah Nasheed, TD El-Amin, Tony George, Ed Schieffer, Sam Komo, and Joseph Fallert; area Republicans include: Doug Funderburk, Rick Stream, and Timothy Jones.
Education, health care and taxes are all on the agenda this spring.
Gov. Matt Blunt and legislative leaders want to cut taxes as one way to deal with an expected revenue surplus. The question is which ones, and by how much.
They also intend to tackle an overhaul of the state's health care programs for the poor, or at the very least must extend a scheduled mid-2008 expiration of the state's Medicaid program.
But both the health care and tax issues are likely to take a back seat to education, either as part of the regular session or in a special session that Blunt could call.
Lawmakers plan early consideration of Blunt's plan to finance college construction projects by tapping into the profits of the state's student loan agency, MOHELA.
New on the agenda this year will be toughened safety requirements at mental health facilities and group homes. The issue stems in part from a November 27th fire that killed eleven people at an Anderson home for the mentally ill and mentally disabled. Blunt already has embraced a sprinkler-system mandate for such facilities.
Back before the Legislature after past failures could be attempts to toughen Missouri's immigration laws, tighten its seat belt requirements and impose new dam inspection requirements.