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This Week in the Missouri Senate for The Week of April 13, 2015

Sen. Onder with constituents from Mercy Children's Hospital in St. Louis

With just four weeks left to go our time left in the 2015 legislative session is coming to a close. As a result, our days are getting longer and our focus has shifted from long committee hearings to more time debating legislation on the Senate floor.

Early in the week Senators revisited the topic of school transfers by taking up and passing a revised House version of the legislation. That bill now heads back to the House where the body can choose to pass it as is including the changes made to the bill by the Senate or request that the Senate grant a conference.  This particular course of action is extremely common late in the legislative year as bills are amended in the other chamber thereby sending a new version of the bill back to its originating chamber. The sponsor has the ability to accept those changes or decide that he or she will grant a conference to negotiate the new version of the bill with members of the other chamber, thereby creating a conference committee.

Conference committees are made up of five members of the House and five of the Senate. They meet to review the bill and determine what if any changes will be accepted. Once a majority of the conference committee members agree on a version a report is created that then goes to each house for a final vote. Though the process sounds relatively easy it can be difficult depending on what changes were made and how much they alter the underlying bill. Further, the process requires an extra hurdle whereby the members of each chamber have to review the conference committee version of the bill and decide to vote for or against it. As we move through the final weeks of the legislative session, this process will become more common.

Sen. Onder addresses the Coalition Against Common Core

I currently serve on a conference committee for Senate Bill 11, a bill I wrote about in a previous column. That bill contains language to reform a few of our ethics laws here in Missouri. The particular topics it tackles are those of the revolving door policy which sets a limit on how long a legislator must wait before he or she can become a lobbyist. Right now a legislator can become a lobbyist immediately. It also includes a gift limit to legislators, a debate that has been ongoing in the legislature. Some advocate for no limit while others prefer to see a limit of $25 per lobbyist per gift. Negotiations on those points are in progress and will ultimately result in a conference committee report on the bill.

While I mentioned that our time in committees is beginning to become less and less, we still had the opportunity to hear several bills this week, including House versions of some of the bills I sponsored. I also had the opportunity to debate a few of the bills I sponsored on the Senate floor, including SJR 12 which proposes a constitutional amendment guaranteeing parents the right to control the education of their minor child. After some debate on the topic the bill was placed on the informal calendar where it can be called back up for debate at any time in the future.

Sen. Onder visits with school groups from the 2nd Senatorial District

Legislation I filed pertaining to the use of paper ballots, was voted out of the Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections committee. I appreciate the support from Senators who serve on that committee as I believe that protecting the integrity and transparency of our elections is extremely important. In addition to a vote on that bill, Senators in the Senate Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee voted to pass out legislation aimed at providing additional time for consumers to review health care plans prior to the open enrollment period. I sponsored this bill in the Senate and Representative Justin Hill, R-Lake St. Louis, filed it in the House. I believe the bill is an important step in providing consumers more time to study the available plans before making the important decision of which is best for them. 

I am hopeful that I will have the opportunity to bring each of these bills before the Senate body for debate, along with a few other bills that I will be handling for House sponsors this session, including a bill originally filed by Representative Kurt Bahr, R-O’Fallon. The bill protects a homeowner’s right to display political signs in their yards, despite rules created by Home Owners Associations. This First Amendment protection is an extremely important one that I look forward to supporting and passing through the Senate.

As always, we had a number or visitors stop by the office this week, including a great group of students from John Weldon Elementary School in Dardenne Prairie. I am grateful for the time our visitors take out of their busy schedules to advocate for issues important to them. I always appreciate hearing the differing perspectives on the many topics we consider each and every day.

Thank you for your continued interest in my work at the Capitol. I am grateful for your support and am honored to serve you!

Very Sincerely,

Sen. Bob Onder
2nd District

I appreciate your interest in our work here in Jefferson City, and am grateful for the opportunity to serve you.  Please do not hesitate to contact my office with questions about legislation, ideas for bills and any other matters we can assist you with.  

For scheduling and general questions, please contact my Scheduler and Deputy Legislative Director Sam Saffa at  

For constituent questions or concerns, please contact my Director of Constituent Services Theckla Spainhower at  

For questions pertaining to legislation, please contact my Chief of Staff and Legislative Director Jennae Neustadt at

You can reach my Capitol office at (573) 751-1282.  You can also e-mail me personally at

I would like to encourage you to sign up for my weekly capitol reports so we can inform you of our work each week.  Please email Sam Saffa at to be added to our mailing list.

Sen. Onder Serves a Portion of St. Charles County in the Missouri Senate.

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Senate District 2.


Contact Information:

State Capitol Building, Rm. 226
Jefferson City, Missouri 65101
(573) 751-1282


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Elected to the Senate in 2014.