Missouri legislative session ends without sports betting, open enrollment
The Missouri House Republican leadership holds a news conference hours before the session ends.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Both the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate went right up to 6 p.m. Friday before they constitutionally had to gavel out for the year.
Because of a gridlock in the Senate in the final hours, several Republican priorities did not make it to the finish line, including sports betting, open enrollment, childcare tax credits and initiative petition reform.
During a 3:30 p.m. press conference, Rep. Dean Plocher, who leads the House Republicans, said he was proud of the work his chamber had done, but hoped the Senate would pull it to the finish line.
On the final day, the House passed a bill further expanding access to postpartum care under Medicaid, from 60 days after giving birth to one full year.
"We have seen Republican lawmakers for the first time, picking up bills that we have been filing for a very long time around this conversation of being pro-life, because expanding postpartum coverage for medicaid moms is something that we've been talking about since I've been here," said Rep. Crystal Quade (D-Springfield).
However, Sen. Bill Eigel (R-St. Charles County) and others he works closely with held the floor of the Senate chamber in the final hours, preventing them from getting any bills passed. Eigel said he was filibustering because leadership would not bring up a bill that would cut personal property taxes.
Eigel compared what was happening in the Senate to the Empire in the Star Wars movie franchise.
"Dismissing attempts to cut one of the most awful taxes we have in our society as political theater because someone was willing to stand up is regrettable, and so here today we have a Darth Vader moment," Eigel said.
"We're not Darth Vader, we're senators and working people trying to represent the people from our neighborhoods," floor leader Sen. Cindy O'Laughlin (R-Shelby County) said.
An education reform bill identified as a priority by Republican leadership did not pass the Senate. The bill would have created an open enrollment system under which students could transfer from one district to another regardless of how the district they live in is rated.
Legalizing sports betting is something that Missouri lawmakers from both parties have wanted to do for several years. The bill carrying this was pushed to the back burner because of 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 falling into a gray area of the law.
There was a last-ditch effort to get it through. House lawmakers attached it to a personal property tax bill, but this did not make it through the Senate either.