Lawmakers Pass STEM and Treatment Court Legislation During Extraordinary Session
Last week, state lawmakers returned to Jefferson City to pass legislation meant to move Missouri forward during an extraordinary session called by the governor. This extraordinary session also coincided with the legislature’s annual veto session, where the Missouri General Assembly can consider overturning the governor’s vetoes on previously passed legislation.
During the extraordinary session, the Missouri General Assembly dealt with two key issues. The first was science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. House Bill 3, which was approved by the General Assembly, will allow high school students to fulfill one unit of academic credit with a district-approved computer science course for any math, science or practical arts unit required for high school graduation. The legislation also creates the STEM Career Awareness Program, which will help raise awareness of the opportunities these rapidly growing fields have to offer students preparing to enter high school. In our increasingly digital age, it is important for our youth to get engaged with STEM fields, not just for today, but tomorrow’s jobs as well. We currently have 10,000 open computer science jobs in the state and not enough people trained to fill these jobs. These two provisions will help prepare the next generation to meet this growing demand.
Additionally, the Missouri General Assembly passed House Bill 2. This legislation expands drug treatment courts across the state. These courts are a proven, cost-effective alternative to the traditional judicial system and can help reduce recidivism when compared with either incarceration or probation. By utilizing these treatment courts, we can keep non-violent offenders out of the prison system and help put them on a path to becoming productive citizens.
While the Missouri General Assembly was working to pass these two bills during the extraordinary session, lawmakers also got the chance to revisit legislation from the past session that was vetoed by the governor. During the legislature’s annual veto session, the Missouri House of Representatives voted to overturn four of the governor’s vetoes relating to line items in the state’s operating budget. However, the Missouri Senate did not vote to overturn these vetoes, thus leaving the vetoes intact.
In other news, the Missouri General Assembly was recently informed by the Missouri Department of Revenue that the state received a grace period for the implementation of the REAL ID Act. This means Missouri driver’s licenses and non-driver, state-issued ID cards will continue to be accepted through Jan. 21, 2019, for air travel and entrance into federal facilities, such as military bases. Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act is meant to strengthen federal standards for state-issued IDs following the Sept. 11 attacks. The General Assembly approved legislation in 2017 to give Missourians the option to choose whether or not to receive a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. As the state continues to work toward full compliance, the grace period ensures Missourians can continue to travel without complication through the start of next year. Missouri has applied for a full extension through October 10, 2019, and I will keep you updated on any developments regarding this.
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