Scrambling Toward the End
It’s hard to believe, but the 2021 legislative session is nearing the end. We only have three weeks left before we adjourn on May 14. The pace of legislative activity has definitely picked up. In fact, it’s a bit of a mad dash as numerous pieces of legislation begin to move forward.
This week, I presented my PDMP legislation, Senate Bill 63, to the House Veterans Committee. I am incredibly grateful to the committee for agreeing to hear the bill. I thought the hearing went really well and the committee gave its blessing, passing the bill onto the House Rules Committee. Once that committee signs off, and we are praying they will, SB 63 can then be brought up in the House chamber for debate and, I hope, final passage.
We’ve reached the point in the session when legislation passed by the House of Representatives is being brought up for debate in the Senate chamber. As these bills come before the body, each of us is mindful of the bill subject and title, and many of us look for opportunities to add our own legislative proposals as amendments. Regardless of whether it’s a measure the House has already approved, or a Senate bill that’s headed to the House, there’s a scramble to offer our priority legislative proposals onto fast-moving bills and we’ve had some long sessions as relatively simple bills grow in complexity and scope.
There’s an informal rule in the Senate that discourages us from adding language that hasn’t been thoroughly vetted by a committee, with witness testimony and public comment. Even with that limitation, there’s plenty of bills queued up and ready to hitch a ride to the legislative finish line. One example of this is Senate Bill 79, a measure offered by one of my colleagues that would allow pharmacists to dispense FDA-approved HIV post-exposure prophylaxis medications. This proposal reflects the spirit of an initiative aimed at eradicating HIV, which was launched by President Trump and his administration with their goal of eradicating HIV by 2030. My colleague’s bill was heard and passed out of committee in March, but hadn’t made it to the floor yet. When the Senate took up a professional licensing measure in House Bill 476, the HIV language was offered as an amendment. Even though the Senate probably won’t have time to take up the stand-alone bill, the measure could still become law if the House approves the changes we made to the bill.
I was incredibly pleased to see legislation I shepherded through the Senate get signed into law this week. I was the Senate handler for House Bill 430, a measure that expanded tax credits for adoptions, domestic violence shelters and maternity centers. I was honored to be on hand as the governor signed the bill, along with House Bill 429, which also related to adoption tax credits and child custody.
Several important measures have not made it through the entire process yet, but several of us are working together to get them across. We are worried about some of the proposals coming out of Washington, D.C., and these bills will help us resist what I believe are dangerous ideas. The Senate added legislation that would prohibit vaccine passports in Missouri to several bills, and I’m hopeful at least one bill containing this language is approved by the House. I also look forward to the Senate taking up and passing House legislation that prohibits so-called “critical race theory” instruction in our public schools. Finally, the Second Amendment Preservation Act, still has not been brought up in the Senate chamber. I’ve stated that I believe this is the most critical legislation before the General Assembly this year. I expect this important protection of our right to keep and bear arms will be the subject of intense discussion in the final days of the 2021 legislative session. I’ll keep you posted!
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.