What’s Happening Report: May 6, 2019

If we were having coffee, I would tell you about how it is still legal in Missouri to discriminate.

Every year for the past 20 years, the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) has been proposed in the Missouri legislature. MONA would add sexual orientation and gender identity to Missouri’s Human Rights Act, which currently prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations for other protected categories, including race, sex, and national origin. This past week, we attempted to amend it onto a bill that prohibits businesses from boycotting Israel. Unfortunately, the majority of Republicans would not allow this amendment to even be introduced.
In 2017, the Missouri legislature passed SB 43, which (among other things) limits a person’s ability to bring a lawsuit against sexual harassment at work. Under SB 43, an employee would not be able to bring a lawsuit against a harasser, only against their company. This week, we heard HB 489, which limits an employee’s right to recover damages from that employer. (It also limits an award of punitive damages in many ways. HB 489 has not been passed by the Senate yet.)

We also passed the “Campus Free Expression Act”, HB 576, this week, which redefines free speech to protect the rights of a speaker to not be interrupted by civilians, and limits professors’ abilities to speak freely in the classroom.

I am on the Joint Committee for Public Assistance. I am working to get that committee to meet to discuss these problems with Medicaid, as well as discuss changes that are being proposed to Medicaid and other public assistance programs.

We are in the last part of session. With only 2 weeks left of session, things should be moving quickly. This week, the House third read and passed 19 bills. As of today, 220 bills have been third read and passed by the House, and 10 House bills have been passed by both houses (this last number did not change this week). 3 bills have been signed by the Governor. We will be hearing a lot more bills as May 17th approaches.

Scroll to the bottom for information on upcoming St. Louis Area fishing festivals, as well as several public appearances I will be making after session ends.
Last Week

We had a busy week and things are moving fast. I touched on a few bills above, including the anti-discrimination against Israel bill (HB 1006) and the Campus Free Expression Act (HB 576). A Democratic bill, HB 868, passed the House. This bill lets public defenders share offices between counties. This bill, sponsored by Representative Mitten from Richmond Heights, is one of the few Democratic bills to pass the House this year. The House passed a total of 19 bills this week.

The Senate had several late nights and passed the CAFO bill that will make it easier for large factory farms to operate in Missouri (and restrict local counties and municipalities from regulating them). This bill, SB 391, will head to the House this week.

You can see the growing list of bills that have been perfected (final version is complete and ready to vote on) and third read (bills we have voted on) on the House webpage under “Legislation”.

While it is interesting to see what we have been doing, a better way to be involved at this point in the session is to keep abreast of the Calendar (to see what is coming to the floor).

Democrats and Republicans are giving press conferences on a variety of policy topics; you can see all press conferences on the MOHOUSECOMM Youtube Page at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCd6ymiL-IlKewSkyoocKcuw. Last Thursday the Democrats renounced Westborough Baptist Church’s visit to protest one of our members. We encourage the Republican House leadership to also renounce them and to bring legislation to the Floor to give equal protection to LGBT individuals in our state.
This Week
We are still scheduled to be debating and voting on HB 581, a charter schools expansion bill.

We are scheduled to debate Medicaid Work Requirements, which turns a program that is designed to make people healthy so they can be productive into a requirement that people be productive before they can get healthcare.

I have been asked about HB 864, which would change teacher pensions. This bill has not yet been assigned to a committee, and I do not expect the bill to pass this year. I oppose this bill.

Last week, we passed some bills out of the Rules – Legislative Oversightcommittee faster than our rules allowed. We will be re-voting on them again on Monday.

As of this writing, Children and Families and Ways and Means do not have a committee meeting scheduled this week.