The Session Ends
The First Regular Session of the 101st General Assembly has come to an end. Consistent with Missouri’s Constitution, we concluded our work on Friday, May 14. The final week of the legislative session did not go as I anticipated. As many of you may know, my father and predecessor in the Missouri Senate, Dan Brown, passed away this week. I left the Capitol mid-week to be with my family, but returned for the final hours of legislative activity on Thursday and Friday. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am for the outpouring of love and support I and my family received following the death of my father. It was heart-warming to hear your kind words of comfort and your expressions of admiration and friendship for my father. He was a great man. He was humble, hard-working, funny and faithful to his core. His word was his bond. He was a loving husband to my mother Kathy and a devoted father to me and my sister. A skilled and dedicated veterinarian, tireless public servant and a steadfast member of the south-central Missouri community, he was truly a Missouri legend, and will be sorely missed. Again, thank you for all your expressions of sympathy and love. It means a lot.
As often happens in the Missouri Legislature, the final days and hours of session were the most productive. A flurry of bills crossed the finish line during the final week. Although the total number of bills passed was somewhat less than previous years, many of the measures that reached the governor’s desk contained multiple provisions. It may take a few days to fully grasp all we accomplished, but a few highlights bear mentioning.
One of the most closely watched bills of 2021 was the Second Amendment Preservation Act, or House Bill 85. This legislation pushes back against the current administration in Washington and its promise to enact new gun control laws. The bill declares that any law, order or regulation restricting our Second Amendment rights will be invalid in Missouri. It further prohibits local law enforcement agencies from assisting federal efforts to restrict our right to keep and bear arms.
Senate Bill 262 increases the fuels tax by 2.5 cents each year through 2025, when it will reach 29.5 cents per gallon. As a motorist, I don’t like paying more at the pump, but as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee I see the need. We haven’t raised our gas tax since 1996, but highway construction costs have continued to rise during the past 25 years. The bill sent to the governor’s desk includes a rebate provision, so anyone willing to save receipts can request a refund of the additional taxes paid.
Your reaction to passage of Senate Bill 153 will likely depend on which side of the retail counter you stand. Brick-and-mortar business owners will applaud this legislation that ends a competitive advantage internet-based sellers have enjoyed over local brick-and-mortar merchants in Missouri. Online vendors will now need to collect sales tax on merchandise sold to Missouri customers.
I’m happy to report that a number of the measures I put forth this year made it to the governor’s desk. The Legislature passed my Senate Bill 49, which includes provisions related to watercraft and boat docks. Senate Bill 126, which extends Sunday liquor sales hours, also crossed the finish line. Several proposals related to public safety that I put forward as separate bills, including a salary increase for county sheriffs, were included in Senate Bill 53, an omnibus package of reforms relating to police, juvenile services and courts.
It’s my honor to serve as your senator for the 16th District. If you have questions or need any assistance, please call my office at 573-751-5713 or log onto my webpage at https://www.senate.mo.gov/brown for more information.