Sen. Karla May’s “May Report” for the Week of Jan. 17, 2022

On the Floor
This week, on Jan. 19, members of both the Missouri House of Representatives and Missouri Senate came together to hear the governor deliver his annual State of the State address. In his speech, the governor said that despite the challenges we’ve faced over the past year, our state is strong and that we now have the opportunity to make it even stronger through key investments. Laying out his budget priorities, the governor reiterated his support for a 5.5% pay increase for state employees in the hopes of improving worker retention rates throughout state government. He proposed fully funding the Foundation Formula for our state’s K-12 schools once again this year, as well as increasing the base salaries for our hardworking teachers. The governor voiced continued support for workforce development programs and proposed new investments aimed at improving access to broadband internet services and clean drinking water.

Bills and Committees
Senator May’s Legislation:
This week, I presented Senate Bill 772 to the Senate’s Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee. This legislation creates the Community Investment Corporation Development Commission within the Department of Revenue. This commission will be tasked with gathering information and making reports regarding the establishment and operation of community investment corporations.

Appropriations Committee:
The Senate’s Appropriations Committee has begun meeting to review the governor’s proposed supplemental budget. This supplemental budget will help fund state government through the remaining fiscal year, which ends on June 30. Included in the governor’s supplemental budget is a proposed 5.5% pay increase for state workers, funding for expanding Missouri’s Medicaid program and additional funding for education. The governor has stated he would like to see the General Assembly pass a supplemental budget before the end of January.

The committee also heard two pieces of legislation aiming to waive the repayment of unemployment benefits overpayments that some Missourians received through no fault of their own at the height of the pandemic. The bills heard were Senate Bill 673 and Senate Bill 709.

Judiciary Committee:
The Senate’s Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee heard two bills on Jan. 18. Senate Bill 765 increases the penalties for killing or injuring a K-9 police officer. Senate Bill 664, meanwhile, makes individuals found guilty of second degree murder when they were minors ineligible for early parole.

Other News
Missouri House Sends Congressional Redistricting Bill to Senate
On Jan. 19, the Missouri House of Representatives voted to advance congressional redistricting legislation to the Senate, but failed to add an emergency clause that would allow the bill to take effect before candidate filing for the August primary elections opens on Feb. 22. Without an emergency clause, the redistricting bill, House Bill 2117, as is would not take effect until Aug. 28 – nearly four weeks after the Aug. 2 primaries. However, lawmakers likely will revisit the emergency clause issue as the bill continues through the legislative process.

Commission Finalizes New Districts for Missouri House
On Jan. 19, the independent commission charged with drawing new state House of Representatives districts finalized a redistricting plan that will be used for the next decade. The unanimous agreement marks the first redistricting cycle since 1991 that the bipartisan commission has avoided partisan deadlock to successfully redraw Missouri’s 163 House districts.

Such was not the fate for a separate commission tasked with crafting new state Senate districts. After the Senate commission reached an impasse in December, the job of drawing the district lines for the 34-member chamber passes to another commission of six appellate judges. The Missouri Supreme Court is expected to appoint the appellate commission no later than Jan. 23.

Judges Declines To Block STL County Mask Mandate
A St. Louis County judge on Jan. 19 rejected the attorney general’s request for a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of St. Louis County’s mask mandate, which the county enacted on Jan. 5. In rejecting the request for a restraining order, the circuit judge said the attorney general’s legal interpretation would require the court to ignore certain portions of the state law authorizing the county’s action and add other words that aren’t in the statutory text. The case is scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 8.

Appellate Court Rules Against State Treasurer in Ballot Dispute
A three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District on Jan. 18 affirmed a trial judge’s decision upholding ballot language the secretary of state’s office prepared for a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to give the state treasurer greater flexibility in investing taxpayer funds. The state treasurer had sued the secretary of state over claims the language is argumentative and likely to prejudice voters against the measure.

Amendment 1, which is slated to appear on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot, would loosen existing constitutional restrictions on the type of investments the treasurer can make. Among other changes, it would allow the treasurer to “also invest in other reasonable and prudent financial instruments and securities as otherwise provided by law.”

The treasurer objected to a portion of the ballot language the secretary of state’s office subsequently prepared, stating Amendment 1 would “allow the General Assembly to override the current constitutional restrictions of state investments by the state treasurer.” The treasurer argued this language is “inaccurate and biased” because Amendment 1 grants the Legislature no role in managing state investments, which is the constitutional responsibility of the treasurer. However, both the trial judge and appellate court agreed with the secretary of state that Amendment 1 would give the Legislature the power to statutorily authorize investments that currently are prohibited by the constitution.