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What’s passed and what’s not 24 hours from end of Missouri legislative session


With less than 24 hours until the Missouri Legislature must adjourn for the regular session, several items labeled as priorities by key lawmakers are still in limbo.

Lawmakers must stop working at 6 p.m. Friday, under the legislative rules.

Distracted driving

A distracted driving bill that establishes the Siddens Bening Hands Free Law was passed Thursday and sent to the governor's desk. This is the most-significant distracted driving bill to pass in Missouri since the current 21-and-under ban passed 13 years ago.

The Siddens Bening Hands Free Law would create a hands-free driving requirement for all residents. It's named after the husbands of Stephany Bening and Adrienne Siddens, who were both killed in distracted driving crashes.

A compromise was added to this bill that makes it secondary enforcement, meaning that an officer cannot pull someone over for just being on their phone. Under this amendment, someone could only be charged with texting and driving if they were pulled over for something else, like speeding or reckless driving.

Sports betting

Legalizing sports betting is something that Missouri lawmakers have wanted to do for several years. The bill carrying this was pushed to the back burner, due to ongoing debates over whether to regulate video lottery terminals -- the slot machines often seen at gas stations are sometimes referred to as "gray machines" because they're a "gray area" in the law.

Senate Pro Tem Sen. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) previously told ABC 17 News nothing is dead until Friday, but didn't sound optimistic about sports betting passing this year.

"We'll get it done at some point, you know, we'll end up being one of the last Midwestern states to do it, I assume. Which is unfortunate," Rowden said. "You know, if it doesn't happen this year, I think every year that passes, more pressure builds up to say, 'You know, what are we doing? 'This doesn't make any sense for us to keep killing it."

There was a last ditch effort to get it through. House lawmakers attached it to a personal property tax bill. Sen. Bill Eigel (R-St. Charles) held the floor for hours Thursday evening filibustering against the addition of sports betting on this bill.

"There is no deal on sports betting," Eigel said.

Crime package

Thursday, the Senate passed an omnibus crime package sent over by the House. It now goes to the governor's desk. During news conferences last week, chamber leadership said a crime package was a priority they hope to work on before the end of the week.

The bill includes things such as Blair's Law, which makes celebratory gunfire a crime. It's named for a Kansas City woman who was struck and killed by celebratory gunfire on the July 4, 2011.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce is in support of this bill.

“We are encouraged by lawmakers’ action on the growing problem of public safety and look forward to the day when Missouri’s crime rate no longer hinders our state’s economic growth,” said Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

But Democratic Sen. Lauren Arthur of Clay County said on the floor she doesn't support this bill because it, as she put it, "creates new crimes."

Transgender restrictions

The House passed several bills Wednesday and discussed several more. Two of passed bills go to the governor's desk. Those bills would ban transgender students from participating in women's sports and ban gender transition care for minors.

The transgender bills were a top priority for Republican leadership, including Gov. Mike Parson who said he'd call a special session if they were not passed this week. His office has indicated he will sign them.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri Politics

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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