Bringing the 2020 Legislative Session To a Close
They say each legislative session is unlike any other before it, and I believe that’s certainly been true for the 2020 legislative session. The rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus led to lawmakers taking an extended spring break as a precaution against the virus. Despite the ongoing spread of the virus, lawmakers returned to the State Capitol to finish the final three weeks of the legislative session.
From my perspective, it has been a busy three weeks in the General Assembly. Since we returned to the Statehouse, we passed a $35 billion state operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The process of drafting a budget usually takes months, but was compressed into weeks in order for lawmakers to meet their constitutional obligation of passing a balanced budget on time. Given the revenue shortfalls being experienced by our state, I believe the budget adequately funds our state’s needs for the coming fiscal year, including fully funding our state’s public education system.
As a lawmaking body, legislative bills continued to move through the process during the final weeks of session. For instance, the General Assembly passed House Bill 1330, the House companion to a bill I sponsored in the Senate. The legislation conveys several pieces of state property, including land to the Heartland Port Authority. With this important piece of legislation passed, the Heartland Port Authority will be able to move forward with its plans of building a port right here in Jefferson City. I believe this project will provide an important economic boost to our community through jobs and more affordable goods.
In addition, I am hopeful that House Bill 2046, which also received legislative approval during the final week of session, will help our economy recover from the effects of the COVID-19 virus. I handled HB 2046 when it was in the Senate, and it includes the Expanded Workforce Access Act, which will help individuals who gain valuable, hands-on experience through a federally-approved apprenticeship program earn an industry license. The legislation also expands opportunities for license reciprocity, providing trained professionals more opportunities to get back to work without having to jump through unnecessary hoops.
The Legislature also passed my Senate Concurrent Resolution 32. This resolution calls on Missouri’s congressional delegation to support and help pass the “Bring Our Heroes Home Act,” which would declassify certain POW/MIA information. According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, more than 2,000 Missouri service members remain unaccounted for since World War II. I believe these families deserve answers, and I am hopeful that SCR 32 will play a role in helping these families find closure.
As I said earlier, it’s been a legislative session unlike any other. Despite the challenges our state has faced, I believe the General Assembly managed to complete some important work that will get Missouri through these difficult times. Know that while the legislative session is over, I remain committed to serving you. If I can be of service, please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Please feel free to contact my office at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at senate.mo.gov/Bernskoetter.