Sen. Karla May’s “May Report” for the Week of Feb. 10, 2020

Volume 2, Issue 3 – The Week of Feb. 10, 2020

Floor Action Starts to Pick Up

Over a month into the legislative session, action on the Senate floor has started to pick up. Senators have begun to debate a range of bills and even pass a few of them out of the Senate.

The Missouri Senate recently approved Senate Joint Resolution 38. This is a constitutional amendment which, if approved by voters, would eliminate the nonpartisan state demographer position established in 2018 by Missouri voters with the passage of Amendment 1, commonly referred to as Clean Missouri. In my opinion, it is unfortunate and unnecessary that the Senate moved forward with this kind of legislation that goes against the will of the voters. We work for the people of Missouri, the majority of which supported Clean Missouri. If approved by the Missouri House of Representatives, SJR 38 must be approved by voters in order to become law.

One bill I was glad to see make it out of the Senate chamber this week was Senate Bill 609. This bill requires any money the state receives from opioid-related settlements to be used to fund opioid addiction treatment and prevention programs. By providing a dedicated stream of funding, SB 609 has the potential to help address Missouri’s opioid addiction problem. This is a good use of these funds, and I’m glad to see my Senate colleagues agree. Senate Bill 609 now heads to the Missouri House.

Another bill preparing to be sent to the Missouri House is Senate Bill 600, which is considered a piece of “tough-on-crime” legislation. This bill will reduce judges’ discretion in sentencing, limit probation opportunities and ensure that individuals spend more time behind bars by requiring sentences be served consecutively rather than concurrently. As I have stated before, we need smarter policies that get to the root cause of crime, not failed “tough-on-crime” policies like those found in SB 600. This legislation needs to receive one more round of approval from the Senate in order to be passed out of the chamber.

As you can see, several bills are making their way out of the Senate, but there are still others that need a little more time for debate before they head to the House. For instance, the Senate discussed Senate Bill 591, regarding punitive damages. This is a piece of legislation that allegedly will make it harder for people to get the restitution they deserve through the legal system. The Senate also discussed a proposed increase to Missouri’s gas tax. Senate Bill 539 increases the tax on gasoline by 2 cents per gallon and the tax on diesel by 5 cents per gallon. Missouri has one of the lowest gas taxes in the Midwest, and proponents of SB 539 argue the additional funds will benefit our state’s roads and bridges. Opponents raised concerns about raising taxes on Missourians. Both SB 591 and SB 539 were discussed at length, but eventually laid over for future debate. I’ll be sure to keep you updated if these bills come up again.

Thank you for your interest in the legislative process. I look forward to hearing from you on the issues that are important to you this legislative session. If there is anything my office can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (573) 751-3599.