Sen. Dave Schatz: Mid-Session Review: Senate Stands Strong for a More Resilient Business Climate and Defends Citizens’ Rights

Session is already half over and the General Assembly has recessed a week for Easter break. The Senate has accomplished much in the last two and a half months, but we have a lot of work left to do before the final day of session on May 13. Crafting a balanced budget will be our first order of business next week before returning to regular legislation.

Religious freedoms, the cornerstone on which our country was founded, are under attack. The Senate believes we have a right to protect our religious liberties. We are fighting for fairness and the right for people to freely live out their faith while not infringing on the rights of others. After days of debate, the Senate successfully advanced Senate Joint Resolution 39. The measure is viewpoint neutral and asks Missouri voters to consider a new Constitutional section protecting religious organizations and certain individuals from being penalized because of their sincere religious beliefs concerning marriage. It is a shield, not a sword. It allows the people of Missouri to freely practice their faith according to their conscience.

The cost of welfare spending now takes up one-third of our state’s budget. Costs are reduced when best practice care is provided in a timely and coordinated fashion. The Senate has approved measures that aim to reduce costs, like Senate Bill 608, which authorizes MO HealthNet health care providers to charge a minimal fee for missed appointments and will create an emergency room co-pay system. Senate Bill 607 will help reduce fraud and abuse in Missouri’s welfare system. Senate Bill 875 removes barriers to lower cost of prescription drugs and ensures patient safety. Other bills will help improve access to health care especially in rural areas. Senate Bill 621 will allow for doctors to practice remotely via a computer or telephone connection, otherwise known as telehealth.

Early in session, the Senate approved two tort reform bills that will help foster a stronger, more resilient economy and addresses the state’s antibusiness legal environment. Missouri’s unfair and outdated civil judicial system has forced businesses and job creators out of the state. Senate Bill 591 will align Missouri’s outdated expert witness testimony standard to the federal standard. That modification will improve the business climate and safeguard the reliability of expert testimony. Senate Bill 847 will modify provisions relating to the collateral source rule and will provide that parties may introduce evidence of the actual cost, rather than the value, of the medical care rendered. This bill will restore fairness to personal injury litigation and help reduce the cost of insurance for doctors and businesses.

We will continue to craft legislation that will create jobs across all industries and build stronger communities in the state. We need to work effectively and efficiently to protect the rights of our citizens.

Thank you for reading this weekly column. Please contact my office at (573) 751-3678 if you have any questions.