Senator Holly Thompson Rehder's Legislative Column for April 3, 2023

Monday, April 3, 2023

How Bills Become Laws

Nearly 50 years ago, PBS television released a three-minute cartoon called “I’m Just a Bill.” The animated film told the tale of a forlorn rolled-up stack of paper named Bill, who desperately wanted to become a law. A favorite of generations of children since, that Schoolhouse Rock! cartoon was my introduction to the legislative process, and taught me how identical bill language must be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The cartoon depicted Congress in Washington, D.C, but bills face a similar challenge in the State Legislature. It’s not enough for one legislative chamber to pass a bill. Both chambers have to agree on the exact same bill.

With just six weeks left in Missouri’s 2023 session, we’re at the point in the legislative process when bills are passing from one chamber to the other. Last week, two bills I helped pass through the Senate moved to the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, a Senate bill I sponsored has already received a hearing from a House committee.

Senate Bill 198, my legislation to provide a free replacement birth certificate to victims of domestic violence, passed out of the upper legislative chamber and has moved to the House. Imagine, if you can, the desperate moment when a marriage or domestic living arrangement ends abruptly in violence. A victim of abuse flees the home, grabbing little more than the clothes on her (or his) back. There’s no time to gather documents or important papers. Without these documents, it will be difficult to obtain a replacement driver’s license, rent an apartment or open a bank account. Senate Bill 198 allows for a one-time waiver of fees associated with obtaining a birth certificate copy for victims of domestic violence or abuse. Not having a pay a fee for a replacement birth certificate may not seem like a big deal, but at a time when a person’s life is in crisis, it’s a very big deal.

Also moving to the House of Representatives was Senate Bill 106. This legislation prohibits health care providers and medical students from performing prostate, anal or pelvic examinations on unconscious patients without first obtaining specific informed consent. I was absolutely shocked when I learned these sorts of incredibly invasive and highly personal examinations actually happen without patient permission at Missouri’s teaching hospitals. A patient comes in for knee surgery and, while they’re under anesthesia, a group of medical students gets a demonstration on performing pelvic examines. Yes, this actually happens! Senate Bill 106 was originally sponsored by one of my colleagues on the other side of the political aisle, but I asked to join her as a co-sponsor, making this a bipartisan proposal.

Both of these bills now move to the House of Representatives, where I hope they’ll get hearings in the next few weeks. That important step has already occurred for another bill I sponsored. Last week, I presented Senate Bill 127 to the House Transportation Infrastructure Committee. I originally drafted this bill to name the new Highway 51 Bridge connecting Missouri and Illinois in honor of Southeast Missouri businessman Don Welge. The legislation has since grown to include special designations honoring nearly two dozen notable and heroic Missourians. As one of the first Senate bills to get a hearing in the House, I anticipate it also being one of the first measures to reach the governor’s desk. 

Contact Me

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 Thompson Rehder, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Rm 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101, send an email to or visit