I was honored to open up session this week in the Missouri Senate by giving the daily prayer. While the Senate chaplain normally gives the opening prayer, senators from time to time have the opportunity to give the prayer in the chaplain’s absence. In my prayer, I asked for God’s continued wisdom and guidance as my colleagues and I make difficult decisions in order to help move our state forward.
One of the bills the Senate spent several hours discussing this week related to public health. Senate Bill 12 seeks to roll back some of the authority of local health departments and others. The bill prohibits public health orders from shutting downs businesses, schools, etc. for longer than 15 calendar days in a 180-day period, unless they are reauthorized by another governing body. It would also prohibit orders from restricting the number of individuals allowed to gather in a private home and prohibit restrictions on religious institutions during a state of emergency.
After debating the bill for several hours, SB 12 was laid over for future debate.
Bills and Committees
Senator May’s Legislation:
This week, I filed Senate Bill 488. This legislation establishes the Economic Distress Zone Fund, and money from this fund would support nonprofits working to deter crime in high-crime areas.
Next week, I will be presenting Senate Bill 318, which modifies provisions relating to scrap metal, to the Senate’s General Laws Committee. The hearing is scheduled for Feb. 16.
The Judiciary Committee heard two tort reform bills this week.
Senate Bill 3 reduces the length of time to bring a personal injury suit from five years to two years. Supporters of the bill argue it would ensure cases are addressed quickly and efficiently, while bringing Missouri in line with a number of other states. Opponents, on the other hand, worry about the impact of reducing Missourians’ time to sue.
Senate Bill 171 would allow juries in certain circumstances to consider the role of third parties not part of a suit when determining fault.
This week, the Senate’s Rules Committee recently considered two resolutions.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 7 urges support for state funding for a North Central Missouri Regional Water Commission project to develop a long-term water resource reservoir for a 10 county area in north central Missouri.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 3 calls on Missouri to formally denounce the Missouri Supreme Court’s 1852 decision, which denied Dred and Harriet Scott freedom from slavery. The court challenges involving the Scotts, later brought before the U.S. Supreme Court, would go on to deny citizenship and its privileges to Black people across the country, inflame tensions and serve as a contributing factor leading to the U.S. Civil War. It is quite fitting for this legislation to be heard during Black History Month, and for Missouri to confront and condemn this egregious denial of equality.
We heard two bills dealing with online services in the Senate’s Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee. Senate Bill 108 would allow municipalities to join together to form taxing districts and raise funds to provide broadband internet service to the municipalities’ residents. Senate Bill 163, meanwhile, seeks to place a tax on video streaming services.
The committee continues to hear from state departments on their funding requests for the upcoming fiscal year. This week, the committee heard from the Department of Social Services, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Revenue, the Department of Transportation, the State Tax Commission and the State Lottery.
As of Feb. 11, 2021, the Missouri COVID-19 Dashboard reports an average of 817 new COVID-19 cases per day over the past week.
As of Feb. 10, the City of St. Louis Health Department has reported a total of 19,425 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the City of St. Louis.