The End of Session
The Second Regular Session of the 101st General Assembly has come to a close. The Senate ended legislative activity Thursday evening with the approval of a new congressional redistricting map. All told, we passed more than 60 separate pieces of legislation, including 19 appropriations bills. In the coming weeks I hope to go into more detail about the good legislation we were able to get to the governor’s desk, but I wanted to share some highlights with you in this report. Bottom line, this session was a win for all of Missouri.
One of the biggest highlights for me was the passage of Senate Bill 681. The seeds for this comprehensive package of legislation relating to education were planted during an after-hours dinner among female senators. As the 11 women currently serving in the Missouri Senate began to visit with each other around the dinner table the topic turned to a project we could work on together. That led to “You Can, Too!” a book recalling the history of women serving in the Senate and SB 681, which originally focused on reading instruction programs in Missouri’s schools. This legislation will help teachers be better equipped to ensure our children receive the best literacy education possible. As the bill progressed through the Legislature, other provisions were added, including several I was proud to sponsor.
My Senate Bill 1160, which became an amendment to SB 681, establishes the Imagination Library of Missouri Program. Modeled after a program originally sponsored by country music legend Dolly Parton, the program will help get a book in every child’s hands each month, free of charge, from the time they are born until they turn five years old. A measure I introduced as Senate Bill 977 was also added to the education omnibus bill. This legislation will give school districts the option of dividing into sub-districts, to allow board members to represent specific areas and not just the whole district. This will allow for more direct representation on our school boards, with board members plugged into the community they represent.
Another major accomplishment for 2022 was the passage of legislation to increase election integrity. House Bill 1878 is a monumental piece of legislation that will help ensure our elections are safe and secure. This legislation establishes a commonsense photo ID requirement, protects our election officials from outside influence and includes necessary cybersecurity protections. While I am confident elections in Missouri have been safe and secure, we must always stay vigilant.
House Bill 2149 was a package of legislation relating to professional registration. I serve on the Senate Professional Registration Committee and was asked to shepherd this bill through the upper chamber. A good governance bill, HB 2149 helps cut unnecessary red tape while still providing critical services to our state. The bill expands home health services, promotes dental pilot projects to undeserved communities and brings Missouri into the Audiology and Speech Language Pathology Interstate Compact to help provide healthcare in our most underserved areas. Another good governance bill I carried in the Senate was House Bill 1606, a measure to help our local county and municipal officials. These officials are often the backbones of our communities, doing everything from keeping the county’s books to helping fill pot holes. This legislation will help them as they serve their communities.
The Legislature has concluded its work for the year, but my job does not end when the last gavel falls. I continue to be your senator while the General Assembly is not in session, and I’m available to help you with any issues related to state government. I intend to be out in the communities I serve during the coming months, and I look forward to hearing directly from you. Because of state legislative redistricting, the boundaries of the 33rd Senatorial District will change in 2023. Soon, I’ll be serving residents of Shannon, Stone and Taney counties, along with folks who live in Douglas, Howell, Ozark and Texas counties. Oregon, Ripley, Webster and Wright counties will become parts of neighboring Senate districts at the end of the year. I’m looking forward to meeting my new constituents as those changes take place. Our office will continue to serve our existing constituents through the remainder of the year. If there’s an issue you think we might be able to help resolve, please reach out on our website so we can get back to you and, hopefully, provide the help you need.
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 www.senate.mo.gov/mem33, on Facebook: @SenatorKarlaEslinger, or follow me on Twitter: @seneslingermo.