Four Things, Two Weeks
With only two weeks left in the 2021 session, I believe what looked like a log jam of legislation between the House and Senate has broken loose, and things are starting to move. We made it through the largest portion of our budget bills this week, and the differences between House and Senate appropriations bills will be sorted out before our deadline for the budget on May 7.
At this point in the session, the desire to get our original bill numbers enacted has taken a backseat to simply moving our proposals forward. To that end, we look for opportunities to add the language from bills we sponsored onto other lawmaker’s measures as amendments. Regardless of whether our original bill comes through on its own, we’re trying to get the policies passed.
As I look toward the end of session on May 14, there are four legislative proposals I believe are incredibly important to get across the line and onto the governor’s desk.
I am concerned about a push to introduce “critical race theory” into the curriculum of our public schools. If you haven’t been paying attention, there’s a movement to reframe American history instruction from a social justice perspective and teach that America is a racist nation. The best-known example of this is the “1619 Project,” which has its origins with writings that appeared in the New York Times. There’s a bill in the House that prohibits including the 1619 curriculum in Missouri schools. Similar language is being offered as amendments to other bills. I believe we need to send a clear message that we’re not going to have that. In my opinion, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education should not be allowed to implement critical race theory in Missouri’s public schools.
Secondly, I believe we need to ban COVID-19 passports. I don’t think the people of Missouri should have to worry about government requirements for immunizations. I think that’s absolutely ridiculous. We’ve been able to get language banning COVID passports on a couple of different bills, and I’m hopeful one of those reaches the governor’s desk.
Thirdly, and I think this is critically important, we want to be sure our churches are deemed essential. One of the things that bothered me most about our response to the pandemic was seeing our churches being shut down. I appreciate that health officials were trying to protect the people, but I don’t think churches should ever be shut down. People say, “Holly, that’s not going to happen.” But one of my counties banned even drive-up church services at the height of the COVID scare last year. We have language protecting our churches in various bills relating to public health orders but, if we can’t get those bills done, I hope we can at least pass amendments that say our churches are essential.
My fourth must-pass measure is the Second Amendment Preservation Act. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting that bill across the finish line. We saw some movement this week, and we did get to have some floor time in the Senate discussing the bill. I look forward to us continuing that debate until we get a vote on it, and get it passed. I absolutely do think that’s going to get done.
Those are the four critical issues I believe we must address before the session ends. The one thing these four issues all have in common is government overreach. Each of these policies push back against the heavy hand that’s coming from the new administration in Washington, D.C. As a freedom-loving American, I’m tired of government overreach. It’s what I’m most passionate about. We have to fight back at every turn.
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459. You may write me at Holly Rehder, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Rm 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101, send an email to Holly.Rehder@senate.mo.gov or visit www.senate.mo.gov/Rehder.