Sen. Mike Bernskoetter’s Legislative Column for Jan. 22, 2021

For the Consideration of the Committee

So far this year, over 400 pieces of legislation have been filed in the Missouri Senate. These bills cover topics like tax credits, sports wagering, feral hogs and everything in between. Looking through this incredibly diverse list of bills, you’d wonder how lawmakers ever begin to get through them. Well, our committee system certainly helps.

Committees help lawmakers divide up the labor and build up expertise in certain subject areas. Each of the Senate’s 20 standing committees deals with a certain topic and will hear bills that fall within that committee’s scope. After a bill is referred to a committee, a senator can present their bill for the committee’s consideration in a hearing. Not only do committee hearings provide senators with the opportunity to discuss and ask questions about the proposed legislation, but it also gives members of the public and interested parties the opportunity to have their voices heard too. At the end of the day, committees make lawmaking more manageable and provide legislators with the chance to dive deep into a bill before it goes before the full Senate.

The important work of committees is already underway. This week, in the newly formed Government Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee, we heard testimony on Senate Bill 10, dealing with illegal gambling. The bill seeks to tamp down on the proliferation of so-called “gray machines” (devices that look a lot like slot machines but operate outside of Missouri’s traditional gambling framework), by placing penalties on those who allow them to operate. During committee, questions were raised about the legality of these gray machines and what is the best course of action to ensure Missouri’s gambling laws are properly followed. While the committee has not taken any formal action yet on SB 10, I’m sure this is an issue we’ll hear more about as session gets further underway.

Next week, we plan on holding the first Agriculture Committee hearing of the year. I chair this committee, which takes pride in looking after our state’s No. 1 industry. One of the bills we’ll be hearing is my Senate Bill 37, which aims to ensure safety regulations of anhydrous ammonia are rigorous, but not overly burdensome. I look forward to presenting this bill and working with my fellow committee members to keep our state’s ag economy strong for years to come.

As always, it is an honor to serve the 6th Senatorial District. If my office can be service to you, please feel free to contact us at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at