Sen. Karla Eslinger’s Legislative Column for March 11, 2022

Working Toward Perfection

We’ve reached the halfway point in the 2022 legislative session. The last day to file additional bills was March 1, and next week the General Assembly will break for spring recess. While I’m disappointed in the lack of progress toward passing a congressional map, I’m glad the Senate has finally begin to perfect bills that will make a real difference in the lives of Missourians. Here are some of the bills that have been perfected:

Senator Eslinger met with a delegation of speech-language pathologists representing the Missouri Speech-Language-Hearing Association prior to presenting Senate Bill 978 in committee. From left, Kim Stewart, Sen. Eslinger, MSHA President Jennifer Stevenson and Andrea Richards.

Senate Bill 724: As originally introduced, this legislation modified provisions of Missouri law to help transportation districts function more efficiently. I was able to amend the bill to include language from my Senate Bill 845. This measure spares smaller counties from a burdensome requirement of publishing excessively detailed financial statements in local newspapers, giving them the option to print the same type of summary reports larger counties provide. Anyone who still wants a line-by-line accounting will be able to get it, but the county won’t have to fill pages of the newspaper with information few people ever read.

Senate Bills 681 & 662: This combined legislation joins two education bills from opposite sides of the political spectrum to create a package of reforms aimed at improving childhood literacy in Missouri. The legislation tasks the State Board of Education, together with the Coordinating Board of Higher Education, with developing a comprehensive system of services for reading instruction. I’m proud of the work the women of the Senate have done to get this bill accomplished and look forward to continuing to support it.

Senator Eslinger presented a copy of “You Can, Too!” a book recounting the history of women in the Missouri Senate, to Eliza Salladay, who visited the office as part of the Missouri Developmental Disability Council’s Disability Rights Legislative Day at the Capitol.

Senate Bill 678: This legislation increases the minimum funding threshold for the Kansas City Police Department, the only local police agency in Missouri under state control. The sponsor of this legislation was motivated by an attempt by the City Council in Kansas City to strip more than $40 million of previously budgeted funding from the KCPD. Our law enforcement officers deserve our support, and I’m proud to endorse this legislation, which will prevent future efforts to defund the police in Kansas City.

Although it has not been brought up for debate in the Senate chamber yet, my Senate Bill 702 has passed out of committee and now waits its turn on the perfection calendar. One of my top priorities this session, SB 702 prohibits employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of employment. The bill further requires reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious, moral, ethical or philosophical objections to pandemic-related requirements. Additional provisions prohibit vaccine mandates or required testing in public schools, public accommodations and child care facilities. I’m proud of the work we’re doing to meet the needs of everyday Missourians and ensure their religious freedoms are not infringed, and I’m looking forward to presenting this measure to my colleagues after we return from recess.

It’s been a contentious year in the Missouri Senate so far. My hope is that when we return to the Capitol after spring recess, everyone will put the political games aside and we can move forward in a spirit of working together to benefit all Missourians. You can be sure that I’ll be working to do the best job I can to represent the people of the 33rd District.

It is my honor to serve the residents of Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Ripley, Texas, Webster and Wright counties in the Missouri Senate, and it’s always a pleasure to hear from friends and family back home. If I can help you in any way, please call my Capitol Office at 573-751-1882, or my District Office at 417-596-9011.  You can also visit my webpage at, on Facebook: @SenatorKarlaEslinger, or follow me on Twitter: @seneslingermo.

Senator Eslinger joined a group of female Missouri senators at the Missouri School Board Association’s (MSBA) Legislative Forum and updated the group on the publication of “You Can, Too!” The book, which traces the history of women in the Missouri Senate, is aimed at encouraging childhood literacy. From left: MSBA Executive Director Melissa Randol, Sen. Jill Schupp, Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, Sen. Elaine Gannon, MSBA President Nancy Masterson and Sen. Eslinger.