Missouri legislative session halftime report
JEFFERSON CITY - With the second half of the 2017 Missouri legislative session officially underway as of Monday, here is a look at how the session is playing out.
So far, seven pieces of legislation passed through both chambers. Of those bills, Governor Eric Greitens has signed two into law.
The governor signed SB 19, better known as the Right-to-Work bill, on February 6. Under this law, Missouri workers are now able to decline joining a union while still keeping their job. Missouri is now the 28th state in the country with right-to-work legislation in place.
The governor also signed HCR 4 a few days earlier on January 31. This piece of legislation rejected salary recommendations from the Missouri Citizens Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials. The recommendations had suggested a $1,800 pay increase for elected officials over the next two years.
Perspectives on the effectiveness of this session are split, as Republicans and Democrats differ on whether or not progress is being made for the state.
"It started out with a bang. We've got a lot of things done. I think probably the best thing we've tackled was right to work," Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport said.
"I'm disappointed our priorities have not been around helping everyday Missouri citizens through access to health care through Medicaid expansion or adding protections for the LGBTQ community by passing the Missouri non-discrimination act," Rep. Martha Stevens, D-Columbia, said. "So those are things I think should be priorities instead of people doing bidding for corporations."
But while only seven pieces of legislation have made it through the chambers so far, many more are still gunning to do so in the final weeks of this session.
Legislation regarding prescription drug monitoring programs is hustling along. It would track the prescribing of addictive drugs such as opiates statewide. Currently, Missouri is the only state in the country that has not implemented such a monitoring program. Local legislation in St. Louis County and Jackson County, Columbia and other communities have enacted programs of their own however.
Legislation regarding transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft, is also trying to gain momentum. Under House Bill 130, the responsibility of regulating transportation network companies, would transfer from city governments to the state, opening the door for the expansion of ride-sharing companies in Missouri.
Right now, TNCs can only legally operate in four cities in Missouri: Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia and Springfield. The TNCs pay licensing fees specifically to those municipalities. Under Rep. Kirk Mathews, R- Pacific, legislation, TNCs would instead pay the state a one-time licensing fee of $5,000 in exchange for statewide operation.
The session will wrap in May.