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Perspective: Second half of 2018 legislative session begins

Perspective: Second half of 2018 legislative session begins

April 2nd, 2018 by News Tribune in Opinion

This week began the second half of the 2018 legislative session. The business of the state of Missouri continues without interruption as the House and the Senate are hearing and moving legislation at a productive pace. During the 2018 legislative session, the Senate has sent more than three times as many bills to the House than at this point in 2017. While volume of bills is not the measure of success, moving a significant number of bills in between chambers demonstrates the priorities of members from all across the state are being discussed. Not all of these bills will be signed into law, but facilitating discussion on a variety of topics is the function of the Legislature, and I am pleased with the variety and significance of debate in the Senate thus far.

The lone constitutional requirement of the Legislature is to pass a balanced budget annually. Speaker Todd Richardson and Sen. Ron Richard have directed their respective budget committees to craft a budget that represents the priorities of Missourians in a fiscally responsible manner, and the chairmen of both committees are working together to do so.

On Thursday, the House sent their version of the FY2019 budget to the Senate for consideration. I am pleased their budget eases the burden on Missouri families by investing in higher education. After years of hits to the budgets of our public universities, it is important and proper to fund them in a manner that helps keep tuition down for our children and grandchildren.

The House budget committee, under the leadership of Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, has devoted a great deal of time, energy and effort into this process and I am grateful for their work in terms of quality and timeliness. By sending the House version of the budget to the Senate so early in the legislative session, Sen. Brown and members of the Senate Appropriations Committee can quickly start the mark-up process, which leads to a finalized Senate version. Additionally, with early receipt by the Senate, both chambers will have additional time to discuss and refine differences between the two versions in conference ahead of the constitutional timeline for completion.

As I write this on Good Friday, with only one day left in the month of March, it is easy to be distracted by events such as the start of the Major League Baseball season; the Cardinals' and Royals' pursuit of another World Series ring; or the imminent arrival of spring turkey season. These things are good, but they pale in comparison to the significance of this day. I am thankful for a Savior who suffered on a cruel cross for my forgiveness. I am thankful also for an empty tomb on Sunday morning. Claudia and I, as well as the entire Kehoe family, wish each of you a very happy and blessed Easter. May it be filled with family in celebration of the wonderful fact that 'He is Risen'!

State Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, represents the 6th Senate District. He shares his perspective each Monday during the legislative session and occasionally during the interim.