Another Extraordinary Session Begins
Shortly before the November general election, the governor announced that he was calling state lawmakers back to Jefferson City to pass a supplemental budget to help the state in its continued fight against COVID-19. This is the second extraordinary session of 2020, and as I am sure many of you will agree, 2020 has been anything but ordinary.
The extra session spending bill, House Bill 14, appropriates more than $1.27 billion in funding, with the vast majority of it coming from the federal government. Since the General Assembly passed the FY 2021 state budget in May, the state has received additional funding and new guidance from the federal government on how to spend relief funds associated with the CARES Act. House Bill 14 provides additional funding to help feed students across the state, assist with contact tracing efforts, provide resources to several state departments and more. On Nov. 10, the House passed its version of the extra session budget bill.
Now that the House has passed its version of the supplemental budget, the Senate will begin looking over it and making any changes it deems necessary. Any changes the Senate makes to the budget will then have to be agreed to by the House in order to be finalized. At the end of the day, lawmakers understand that these are hard times for many Missourians, and I believe this legislation will provide critical relief to those in need.
Up to this point, the focus of this extra session has been about providing additional funding to Missourians in need; however, on Nov. 12, the governor expanded his call for the extra session to include legislation shielding health care providers, businesses, schools and others from COVID-19 liability. This has been a topic of discussion in the Legislature since the start of the pandemic. By expanding the call, the governor is giving the General Assembly the opportunity to focus on this issue and find a way to protect the health of Missourians while reasonably ensuring the people who have done so much to keep us safe can continue to effectively do their jobs.
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.