December 1 marked the day when members of the General assembly could prefile legislation for the upcoming legislative session. There was a flurry of activity as many lawmakers were eager to have their priorities at the top of the prefiled list. As of the writing of this report, 861 bills and resolutions had been filed, with many more to come. Priorities for the session will include regulation of video lottery terminals, sports betting, public safety and violent crime, extending Medicaid coverage for new mothers, initiative petition reform, and several transportation related issues, among others.
One of the prefiled bills making headlines is Senator Bill Eigel’s SB317, which would use existing state revenues to rebuild Interstate 70. Eigel’s proposal would use any general revenue funds in excess of $4 billion and would also dedicate an annual 2% earmark from ongoing revenue to widen the road to four lanes in each direction across the state. Missouri is currently sitting on a budget surplus in excess of $6 billion. MoDOT does not have a current estimate on the cost of Eigel’s proposal, but the agency did produce documents earlier in the year showing a cost of $2.75 billion to widen the road to three lanes. It remains to be seen if Eigel’s legislation will gain traction.
The “Freshman Tour” has wrapped up in the General Assembly, as newly elected lawmakers recently participated in a two-week crash course in legislative procedures, as well as visiting points of interest across the state. The tour gives members an opportunity to see what the state has to offer in districts other than their own. They were able to visit an array of industries, agricultural interests, and public universities and institutions. It also allows lawmakers to form relationships with other decision makers who serve the state as the next legislative session approaches.
Governor Mike Parson announced the appointments of the two statewide offices that will be vacated in January, the offices of Attorney General and Treasurer. Current Attorney General Eric Schmitt will replace Roy Blunt in the U.S. Senate. Current Treasurer, Scott Fitzpatrick was elected as Missouri’s next auditor during the November General Election. Since both the Attorney General and Treasurer seats are not up for election until 2024, Governor Parson was able to make appointments to these two seats. The Governor appointed Andrew Bailey to serve as the state’s next Attorney General. Mr. Bailey is a former prosecutor and Army veteran, having deployed twice to Iraq after the 9/11 attacks. He has served in the Governor’s office since 2019 and is currently Parson’s General Counsel. Just before Christmas, Gov. Parson announced that he is appointing Vivek Malek as the next State Treasurer. Mr. Malek, 45, of Wildwood, is a practicing attorney and business owner. He owns and operates the Law Offices of Vivek Malek. Both Bailey and Malek will be sworn in at the inaugural the first part of January.
The 2023 legislative session is slated to begin at noon on January 4th. The day will be mostly ceremonial, as newly elected Senators and Representatives will take their oath of office, followed by the Legislative Ball in the evening. Other dates of interest for the session include March 9 – 20 for the Legislative spring Break, with May 12 as the last day of session. We will continue keep you updated on all political news form Jefferson City and around the state as it occurs through our weekly legislative updates. Nikki Strong, Strong Consulting Group