With the Holiday Season over, Capitol observers know that the next legislative session is just around the corner. With that, the political activity in Jefferson City has increased dramatically.
December 1st marked the day that members of the General Assembly could begin to pre-file bills for the 2019 Legislative Session which begins on January 9, 2019. Many legislators took advantage of the opportunity with over one hundred bills being filed that day in the Senate alone. As of the writing of this report, more than four hundred bills have been filed and we expect the total amount to reach approximately three thousand once session gets into full swing.
As expected, Right-to-Work legislation was pre-filed by Senator-elect Eric Burlison, (R-Greene County). It is unclear how much traction the bill may get especially given the huge margin by which the issue was defeated at the ballot box recently. Governor Mike Parson has stated publicly that Right-to-Work is not on his radar.
One issue that lost at the ballot on November 6 is Prop D – the funding for roads and bridges. No bill has been filed yet that would deal with that issue. Legislative leaders are still exploring various options after the defeat of Prop D in the November election.
The beginning of session will also mean more than sixty newly elected legislators will descend on the Capitol building. House and Senate staff members spent the early part of December hosting freshman orientation where the new lawmakers were taught everything from hiring office staff to staying compliant with ethics requirements and Sunshine Law basics. Also covered was the process of how to draft new legislation, how the state budget is drafted, and the function of each department in state government.
Following the in-house orientation, the newly elected lawmakers hit the road for a week-long bus tour of the state. The tour provided the opportunity for legislators to learn about the way of life and economic factors in areas of the state other than their home districts. The stops along the way included manufacturing plants, senior citizen housing centers, energy production facilities, sports venues, military installations, and agricultural facilities, among others.
Also during December, members and staff of the General Assembly have been learning the steps they must take to comply with the recent passage of Amendment 1 or more commonly known as “Clean Missouri. The measure places many new restrictions on lawmakers and staff. Of particular concern is the portion of the amendment that potentially opens all lines of communication going in and out of the Capitol to Sunshine requests. This could include email or text messages between an elected official and a constituent which might contain personal information such as a health care concern. It is not clear yet how or if legislators will attempt a fix on this part of the new amendment. Also included in Amendment 1 is a ban on gifts to legislators which exceed $5.00 in value, a two-year waiting period before a legislator or staff member may become a lobbyist, campaign contribution limits, and a new method to draw legislative district boundaries after each census.
As always, we will monitor all legislation filed that may impact ASA and the construction industry. In addition, we will be preparing weekly legislative updates about the general happenings in the Capitol and to update you on ASA’s priority legislation. These reports will begin the end of the first full week of the 2019 Legislative Session. Please feel free to contact us any time with questions or concerns about the 2019 Legislative Session. Nikki Strong, Strong Consultants.