The first pieces of legislation to be approved by both chambers of the General Assembly found their way to the desk of Governor Mike Parson in late April. It took a total of fifteen weeks, but several bills now await Parson’s signature. One is an historic bill dealing with K-12 education reforms in the areas of teacher salaries, expansion of charter schools, and an expansion of education voucher programs. Another bill includes funding for members of the Missouri National Guard and the Missouri Highway Patrol who have been deployed to the southern border in Texas since February.  Parson has directed 200 soldiers and 11 troopers to the area, with their deployment beginning in February. The $2.2 million spending bill will cover the cost of the deployment through the remainder of the fiscal year which ends June 30. Yet another bill receiving final approval is a measure that will stop a proposed landfill project in the Kansas City area. The issue had been making headlines for over a year, but a compromise has been reached where the City of Raymore will pay nearly $4 million to the landfill developers to buy the 270 acre property.

As of the writing of this report, the FY25 budget had not passed out of the Senate.  It was expected that the budget would be extremely controversial as the Freedom Caucus had vowed to go line by line through the budget.  Pursuant to the Constitution, the budget must be passed by Friday, May 10 at 6:00 p.m.

The first major construction of the Improve I-70 Project has begun in mid-Missouri. The U.S. 63 and I-70 connector in Columbia will see two new direct connection ramps, two new bridges, and four new roundabouts as well as a third lane in each direction of the twenty mile stretch between Columbia and Kingdom City. The project is expected to take three years to complete.

The makeup of the Missouri Senate will be changing as Governor Mike Parson recently appointed Senator Greg Razer (D-Kansas City) to the State Tax Commission. As of the writing of this report, Razer was awaiting confirmation of his selection by the full Senate, which many see as a simple formality. Razer was currently running for reelection for the 7th senate district and has announced his endorsement of local businessman Pat Contreras to run for his seat.

Speaker of the House Dean Plocher has avoided any media inquiries since the months-long ethics investigation into his possible wrongdoings has ended. Recently, Ethics Committee chair Hannah Kelly put forth her report recommending that Plocher be reprimanded by the House. Although the report detailed how Plocher pressured staff to enter into a computer program contract, sought reimbursement to his personal account on expenses that had been covered by his campaign, had fired several staff members over the last year, and had attempted to obstruct the ethics investigation, only two members of the committee voted to move ahead with the report.  With the failure of the bipartisan committee to issue any sort of report or discipline on the matter, it appears the committee’s work has come to an end.

The end of the legislative session is in sight, as the final gavel will fall on Friday, May 17 at 6:00 pm. During the final weeks, legislators must still approve the Fiscal Year 2025 budget, as well as the renewal of a federal reimbursement allowance providing over $4.5 billion in funding for hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies, and ambulance services to be reimbursed through the state’s Medicaid program. If any controversy arises on those important issues, there may not be time available for work on many additional bills, if any.