JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Last year, the Missouri General Assembly needed a special session to get work done.
As lawmakers return to the capital, bills ranging from redistricting, education, funding, all the way to vaccine mandates are expected to be debated.
The Missouri General Assembly started at noon Wednesday with over 1,170 bills that were pre-filed by members of both the house and senate.
It may seem like an overwhelming task for lawmakers, but there are a handful of bills that need almost immediate attention.
Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, says, "Because of some required deadlines we have to get our redistricting first, so that is first off the bat."
Rep. Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold, says, "Biggest priority is we need to work on this month is redistricting."
As the general assembly begins and Republican lawmakers have expressed the importance of redistricting for the state, the House Democrats are in a unique position to start the session.
Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, says, "Well to say what we are looking forward to is the fact that the republicans do not have a supermajority in the house and that means they need our support to get the emergency clause done. So that we can actually have an election this fall."
And one of the top agenda items for republicans this session will be getting funding for one item that held the state's attention into a special session.
Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage, says, "When we left this building in May, we had not appropriated for Medicaid expansion."
Rep Quade says, "Well definitely Medicaid expansion being fully funded as the voters asked for and as the courts upheld. As stated we are looking at record budget surpluses this year."
With bills addressing everything from covid policies.
Rep. Vescovo says, "Our caucus cares about the mandates as they are happing across the state so there is a priority there."
To education and school funding.
Rep. Quade says, "I think it's safe to say that more anti-public education bills filed this year than any other year and each one of those is either taking money away from public education and making it harder to educators to provide for our kiddos."
With so much on the agenda, there was only one way for this session of the general assembly to hopefully address as much as possible.
Rep. Vescovo says, "And that is why the floor leader has scheduled some Fridays for us to work."
One other bill of note is house joint resolution 83 which is sponsored by Republican house member Shamed Dogan from St. Louis. It would legalize marijuana use for adults over the age of 21 and if passed would go on the November ballot.
In 2021 the general assembly had 2273 bills filed for consideration and only 71 or just over 3% made it out of both chambers.
The redistricting commissions have until Jan. 23 to finalize the new maps. If they don't, a panel of judges will take over.
Several representatives named committee chairs
Representative Mike McGirl Appointed as Chair of House Ways and Means Committee
“I want to thank Speaker Vescovo for entrusting me with leading this committee. It’s an honor to be able to work with my colleagues to make our state a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars. I will continue to support and promote fiscally conservative policies to ensure each and every dollar is used appropriately,” said McGirl, R-Potosi.
Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann to Lead House Insurance Committee
“I’ve spent most of my life working on issues related to the insurance industry and I’m excited to be able to share my knowledge and expertise with the members of the committee,” said Wiemann, R-O’Fallon. He added, “I want to thank Speaker Vescovo for giving me the opportunity to work on an issue that means a great deal to me, and that is vitally important for Missourians in all parts of the state.”
Rep. Don Mayhew to Chair House Subcommittee on Appropriations – Public Safety, Corrections, Transportation, and Revenue
“I want to thank Speaker Vescovo for having the confidence in me to play such a key role in our budget process. I am excited to work with the members of my committee to put together a funding plan that adheres to my fiscally conservative principles and makes the best possible use of our tax dollars,” said Mayhew, R-Crocker.
Representative Jon Patterson to Lead House Emerging Issues Committee
“I want to thank Speaker Vescovo for this honor. I am excited to get to work with the members of my committee and ready to find effective policy solutions that will move our state forward,” said Patterson, R-Lee’s Summit.