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Missouri State Capitol. Image: Public Domain.

Missouri legislative session ends with new laws on education, crime, abortion

Another Missouri legislative session is in the books. As usual, it resulted it a mixed bag of successful and failed legislation. Missourinet recapped the bills that were passed and enacted or waiting for Gov. Mike Parson to sign them into law.

Military-friendly bill. SB 912, sponsored by Sen. Ben Brown, R-Washington, would allow a full state tax deduction for military and National Guard enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses; make it easier for veterans to get a handicap placard for their vehicle; cover the cost of military specialty license plates for veterans; require the Missouri Veterans Commission to work with the Department of Mental Health to find ways to fight veteran suicide and award National Guard members and veterans who served on active duty from 2001 to 2021.

Wide-ranging education package. The highlights of the plan include an expansion of access to private schooling with taxpayer money. It increases the income level to qualify for MOScholars education scholarships. The bill allows Boone County to open charter schools; increases the minimum teacher salary in state statute from $25,000 to $40,000 annually; boosts the minimum teacher salary in state statute for at least ten years of experience and a master’s degree from $33,000 to $46,000 annually; restricts four-day school weeks, with a small incentive to districts that hold classes five days a week; boosts the number of teacher recruitment and retention scholarships, and changes how state aid to schools is calculated by including enrollment and attendance into the formula used to fund education.

MOBuck$ Program funding increase. House Bill 1803 increases overall funding for the MOBUCK$ program. The low-interest loan program is for Missouri farmers, small businesses and local governments. The bill boosts the maximum amount of annual funding from $800 million to $1.2 billion.

Defund Planned Parenthood. Gov. Mike Parson has signed House Bill 2634 into law. The GOP-controlled Missouri Legislature has been trying for several years to prevent state Medicaid dollars from going to Planned Parenthood. Abortions are already illegal in Missouri, except for in medical emergencies, and the state’s Medicaid program does not reimburse for those abortions.

State budget. Just in the nick of time, the Missouri Legislature passed a $51.7 billion state budget proposal. Some of the highlights of the plan include funding to give state workers a 3.2 percent pay increase; boost childcare access to low-income families and widen I-44 to six lanes in Joplin, Springfield and Rolla. The fiscal blueprint fully funds the formula to bankroll K-12 public education and school bus transportation expenses.

Fix to senior citizen property tax relief bill. Current state law allows Missouri counties to stop property tax increases for homeowner taxpayers who are eligible for Social Security benefits. The Missouri Legislature has approved a plan, sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, to clarify that eligible homeowners must be 62 or older to qualify.

Health-care tax to pay Medicaid costs. The Legislature passed a routine bill that would help to cover a significant share of the state’s Medicaid costs. The federal reimbursement allowance bill taxes Missouri hospitals and health-care centers to help with those expenses. The state’s health care providers pay this tax so that they can receive reimbursement for treating Medicaid patients.

340B program. The Legislature has given its blessing to a proposal that aims to increase access to discounted drugs for uninsured and low-income patients. Senate Bill 751 would put a stop to pharmaceutical companies restricting 340B drug discount contracts between Missouri hospitals, health-care centers and local pharmacies.

Crime packageSenate Bill 754, sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, includes “Blair’s Law,” which would create a criminal offense for firing gunshots in the air to celebrate. Another provision, called Max’s Law, would increase the punishment for harming or killing law enforcement animals. The plan would increase the minimum age from 12 to 14 years old for a minor to be charged as an adult for any felony. It would also create the offense of aggravated fleeing a stop or detention of a vehicle if a person flees at high speeding, knowing that a law enforcement officer is attempting to detain the person.

Ban on local governments delaying evictions. Lawmakers are sending to Parson a bill that would prevent Missouri cities and counties from enforcing eviction delays unless authorized by state law. A main provision would crack down on people illegally occupying homes and other residential properties. House Bill 2062 is sponsored by Rep. Chris Brown, R-Kansas City.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice


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