As of the writing of this newsletter, members of the General Assembly are back in their home districts for the annual legislative spring break. Typically, this would signal the halfway point in the legislative session, but we have already passed that mark as there will only be eight weeks of session remaining when legislators return to Jefferson City on March 25. As we mentioned in last month’s column, not a single piece of legislation has passed and been sent to the Governor for his signature. That fact has not changed as movement of bills in the Senate continues at a snail’s pace.

House Budget Chairman Cody Smith has released his version of the Fiscal Year 2025 state budget, making numerous changes to the spending plan put forth by Governor Mike Parson. Smith’s FY25 proposal cuts $2 billion from Parson’s plan, leaving the overall state budget sitting at $50.7 billion. One of the newsworthy items in the version outlined by Smith is an earmark of $727.5 million for major reconstruction projects on Interstate 44. It is anticipated that House members will debate the spending plan on the House Floor the week following the legislative spring break. From there, the Senate will have their turn in making modifications to the proposal. The state constitution mandates the budget must be finalized by May 10.

Embattled House Speaker Dean Plocher recently appeared before the House Ethics Committee, as the months-long probe into his actions continues. The committee is rumored to be looking into several potentially damaging allegations against Plocher, including filing expense reports seeking reimbursement for travel already paid for by his campaign; firing staff members who acted as whistleblowers; and urging House staff to enter into a contract with an out of state private contractor for services already performed by in-house staff. Plocher testified before the committee along with two of his attorneys in a closed session of the committee. By House Rules, Ethics Committee proceedings are confidential, and will not be made public until a final report is released by the committee.

The latest push in the General Assembly to assist potential employees to enter the workforce centers around providing adequate childcare for workers with children. Recently, the Senate Governmental Accountability Committee heard testimony on legislation that would establish tax credits for employers who make contributions for their employees’ childcare expenses and would also set up a tax credit framework for parents who pay for childcare and childcare providers. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce has been leading the push for passage of the bill, along with numerous trade and retail associations and organizations. Additionally, the legislation is a priority for Governor Mike Parson and has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

Filing for elected office remains open through March 26 for statewide offices, all 163 House seats, and 17 of the 34 Senate seats. We will keep you appraised of any news on that front, along with other political happenings that impact ASA and the construction industry.