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Senators introduce 42 measures on filing deadline day

Missouri senators are being asked to consider nearly 570 law changes, constitutional amendments and resolutions this session.

And that doesn’t count the measures introduced in the House that will be passed and sent over to the Senate.

The state Constitution says: “No bill other than an appropriation bill shall be introduced in either house after the sixtieth legislative day …”

In the Senate, that’s understood to be March 1, the 60th calendar day of the year.

So last Thursday — the last day the Senate met before the deadline — was the final day bills could be introduced under the normal process.

The Constitution does allow some exceptions. A bill can be introduced after the deadline, if “a majority of the elected members of each house” approve a motion waiving the deadline, “or the governor shall request a consideration of the proposed legislation by a special message.”

Of the total 568 bills introduced this year in the state Senate, a news release noted, nearly 100 were introduced during the last week.

And 42 of those were filed Thursday, the very last day.

Two of those were proposed constitutional amendments — for a total of 33 suggestions to send to the voters in November, seeking approval to change, or add to, the Missouri Constitution.

Of those, Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, would ask voters statewide to approve a $950 million, general obligation bond issue “to fund infrastructure improvements.”

And Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah, who’s in his last year in the Senate because of term limits, wants voters to limit the amount of tax credits the state may issue in any one fiscal year (July 1-June 30) to $200 million.

His proposed amendment also would reduce income tax rates.

The first of the 40 bills introduced Thursday came from Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, with a proposal to get more “transparency” in the costs of health care.

The final measure of the year came from Sen. Scott Sifton, D-St. Louis, with a proposal to exempt some items from the list of accounts and things that must be turned over to the state treasurer’s Unclaimed Properties Program.

Among the other 38 bills filed Thursday, Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, filed four bills.

One seeks to require the medical provider in a workers’ compensation case to deliver the first notice of any dispute about the medical charges no later than the date the provider receives the first payment for any portion of that fee.

The second would modify the measurement standards and tax rates for both compressed and liquefied natural gas that’s used as a motor fuel.

Kehoe’s third bill would require sending a copy to a local law enforcement agency as well as the state Health and Senior Services department when a report of suspected abuse and neglect of a long-term care facility resident is being made.

And the fourth one would allow a judge to change a jury’s award in a wrongful death or personal injury medical malpractice suit, if the court finds that the jury’s verdict was either excessive or inadequate.

Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City — whose 10th District was moved to northeast Missouri, including Callaway, Audrain and Montgomery counties — announced she was filing “my last two bills ever,” because she’s term-limited and will leave the Senate after this year.

Those bills would prohibit discrimination based on a person’s status as a veteran or on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, also turned in four bills Thursday, including one changing the eligibility for line-of-duty compensation for emergency personnel killed while working or going to or from work. Schaefer filed that bill at the same time that funeral services were being held in Columbia for Fire Lt. Bill Brett, who died a week ago after a walkway he was standing on collapsed at a University of Missouri apartment complex.

Schaefer also proposed increasing the punishment for the conviction of certain sex-related offenses — such as first degree rape, first degree statutory rape, first degree sodomy, first degree statutory sodomy, child molestation, or sexual abuse — when the perpetrator is a repeat offender or used a weapon.

The other two bills would modify some requirements of the law allowing the state to write contracts for services, and makes some accounting changes for state employees who have retired but then are rehired by the state.

Of course, just because a bill has been introduced doesn’t mean it will be approved by a committee, let alone debated by the full Senate.

And, for any bill to become law, the House and Senate must agree to exactly the same language.

In addition, the governor must approve all proposed laws, while proposed amendments must win voters’ approval, statewide, before they can go into effect.

Of the nearly 400 measures introduced before this last week, a Senate news release reported, only 62 Senate bills have been voted out of a committee, and only 37 bills and three proposed amendments have received the Senate’s final approval.

Eight of those have been assigned to a House committee, and only seven have received House committee hearings and have since been reported to the full House with a recommendation to approve them.

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