Looking Forward to Session
With less than a month remaining before the start of the next legislative session on Jan. 6, lawmakers have begun pre-filing bills. To date, more than 300 Senate bills and resolutions have already been submitted for consideration during the First Regular Session of the 101st General Assembly, which concludes on May 14. Before any of these measures can become law, they must survive vetting by a committee and subsequent debate and approval in the Senate chamber. The process must then repeat, with the House of Representatives agreeing to the proposal. It’s a long and difficult process, and most proposals will not cross the finish line.
Pre-filing of bills began on Dec. 1. I have already presented nine bills for the 2021 session, and more may follow in the weeks to come. I’ll discuss a few of these measures this week:
Senate Bill 48 – Filed in response to the unusual and disruptive demands placed on families during the coronavirus pandemic, this legislation creates a tax deduction to help reduce the financial burdens of stay-at-home learning. Taxpayers whose children attend school remotely due to the pandemic would be allowed to claim up to $1,500 in education-related expenses from their 2021 state income taxes. Expenses incurred during the 2020 or 2021 calendar year will qualify for the deduction. Qualifying expenses include school supplies, tutoring services, personal computers, internet access and digital subscriptions required by the child’s school district.
Senate Bill 49 – With one of Missouri’s largest and most popular recreational waterways located within my Senatorial district, I often hear concerns from constituents involved in boating. Senate Bill 49 prohibits the anchoring of vessels within 100 feet of a permitted boat dock without the dock owner’s permission. The bill also protects the privacy and property rights of dock owners, declaring that no one may tie up to a dock or enter onto to a permitted dock without permission.
Senate Bill 50 – The 16th Senatorial District attracts thousands of visitors who travel to our area each year to float our streams and camp among our beautiful forests. These activities are vital to our local economy, but they do carry some inherent risks. Senate Bill 50 protects private campground owners and their employees from frivolous lawsuits when visitors suffer injuries while enjoying the outdoors. Operators of camping facilities still need to make appropriate efforts to ensure safety, but they won’t be responsible when someone is injured by conditions or aspects that are understood to be part of the camping experience. The legislation is similar to protections currently afforded to equestrian facilities and paddle sports outfitters, and mirrors laws enacted in other states.
These three bills are just a few of the legislative proposals I hope to see passed during the 2021 legislative session. As the session progresses, I’ll be sure to keep you updated on other legislative proposals I put forward, as well as those of my colleagues. The previous regular session of Missouri’s General Assembly was interrupted by COVID-19, and many worthwhile proposals did not receive the consideration they deserved. It’s my hope the coming session will proceed uninterrupted and we can get past the pandemic and move onto the many issues that impact the lives of our citizens.
It’s my honor to serve as your senator for the 16th District. If you have questions or need any assistance, please call my office at 573-751-5713 or log onto my webpage at https://www.senate.mo.gov/brown for more information.