The 2024 legislative session came to an end on May 17 as mandated by the constitution, but the ending was quite unusual this year. Normally, legislators would be busy meeting in conference committees and trying to work out last minute details on dozens of bills before the final gavel at 6:00 pm. Instead, the Senate spent less than ten minutes in session on the final day, which capped off a year marked by party infighting and multiple, extended filibusters. The final week weas really no different that the entire year, as very little work was actually done by the upper chamber including a record breaking 50-hour filibuster.

Although House members were able to pass several bills in the final weeks of session, they did not work full days, as they were waiting for the Senate to take up a number of priority bills, but in the end, that did not happen.

While there were numerous points of disagreement between the Freedom Caucus and other Republicans in the Senate all session, the main point of contention the final week was initiative petition (IP) reform. House members as well as the Freedom Caucus wanted language that stated only US citizens can vote and banning foreign money from interfering in the election process, which was called “ballot candy”. While Senate Democrats filibustered the ballot candy language, moderate Republicans refused to use a parliamentary maneuver to force the issue through. Since House members refused to move on the issue without the ballot candy language, and Senate Freedom Caucus members would not allow the Senate to debate any other bills until the IP measure was approved, the final week of session saw little progress on many important pieces of legislation.

Despite there being over 2500 bills introduced this session, only 28 of those (excluding budget related bills) found their way to the Governor’s desk. Notable bills that passed include all the bills that make up the nearly $50 billion FY25 budget; SB754, a major public safety bill; SB894, which modifies several provisions to promote business development in the state; SB727, which expands charter schools and provides an increase in teacher pay statewide; HB2634, which prohibits state funding from going to Planned Parenthood; and SB748, which renews the all-important Federal Reimbursement Allowance for critical funding to hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies and emergency services.

Governor Mike Parson now has until June 30 to decide the fate of budget items, and July 14 to make a decision on policy related bills that have reached his desk. Any vetoes issued by Parson may be considered for an override when legislators gather for the annual veto session on September 11. Any bills signed by the Governor will go into effect on August 28, unless they have an emergency clause or date specific implementation.

The focus now turns to campaign season as legislators running for reelection and for higher office will hit the campaign trail in anticipation of the August 6 primary election.