The Missouri Senate broke the log jam and started to move legislation, albeit at a slower pace than typical at this point in a legislative session. To date, of the nearly 2,300 bills that were filed this session, only one has passed both the House and Senate, and been signed by the Governor. The FY 23 operating budget along with the budget that contains the spending authority for the nearly $3 billion in ARPA stimulus dollars must be passed by the legislature by May 6 at 6:00 p.m. The 2022 legislative session ends on May 13 at 6:00 p.m.
While the Senate has been slowed all session by lengthy filibusters throughout the session, the House has continued their normal work and have sent numerous bills to the Senate for their consideration. As we have reported in the past, the House has passed a bill in committee which eliminates the new sales tax increase for gas and diesel fuel, but that measure has been stalled for the last month and has not seen any floor debate. Two similar bills in the Senate have been idle in the Transportation and Public Safety Committee where the chairman has thus far decided against moving the bills forward. Two additional bills in the House would enact a six-month holiday on the gas tax, but those bills have not moved for several weeks and don’t seem to be gaining any traction. We will continue our efforts in opposition of these bills. All other bills either supported or opposed by ASA have suffered the same fate as all other bills, including the Underground Damage Review Board, bills dealing with prevailing wage, and electric vehicle charging stations.
The House passed the state budget for Fiscal Year 2023 in mid-April and forwarded the numerous budget bills to the Senate. The plan gives spending authority of approximately $46 billion to various agencies necessary for the operation of state government. A huge focus was on the ramifications of COVID-19 and led House budget writers to include language in every budget bill which prohibits any department in state government, any agency that uses public funds, or any public school from holding an event that requires a vaccination or a negative Coronavirus test.
In a somewhat surprising departure from previous years, there continues to be a record surplus of revenue in state coffers. Some budget experts are expecting that amount to reach nearly $3 billion by the end of the current fiscal year. While the House only used a portion of the surplus on shoring up certain programs and one-time needs, the Senate appears poised to use additional amounts of the surplus to fund what they feel are necessary priorities. The differences between the House and Senate positions on the budget must be reconciled in conference committee before the spending plan is sent to the Governor for his signature. As stated above, the General Assembly is under the gun as the deadline for finalizing the budget by May 6.
As the final weeks of session approach, we will continue to watch for legislation that may be impactful to ASA members. With little time remaining, legislators will be looking for every opportunity to attach their priorities to any piece of legislation that is moving. We also anticipate a final attempt by Senate leadership to pass the new congressional district map. That has proved to be an impossible task thus far. It will be interesting to see what legislation makes it across the finish line due to the slow place thus far in this legislative session as the May 13 deadline is quickly approaching.