The Legislative Session Begins
The Second Regular Session of Missouri’s 101st General Assembly got underway this week. Each Missouri “General Assembly” – the combined Legislature, consisting of the Senate and House of Representatives – continues for two years. So, while the state celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2021, we are in the midst of our 101st General Assembly. Originally, Missouri’s Legislature convened every other year, but since 1972, we have met annually, which gave rise to us having first and second regular sessions.
Although the General Assembly lasts for two years, each session is a fresh start, with a new set of bills before the Legislature. What doesn’t change is the membership. Senators who served last year are back this session, and the relationships formed in the previous year will continue this year. With this is mind, I took the opportunity on the first day to review some of the lingering issues from the 2021 session and express my desires for the year ahead. I encouraged my colleagues to move forward with integrity and honor, stressing the importance of working together to make Missouri a better place to live and work this year.
While this year’s session officially began at noon on Jan. 5, lawmakers have been filing legislation since the beginning of December. To date, more than 400 bills and resolutions have been pre-filed in the Senate. I have introduced 17 separate pieces of legislation so far this year. Some of these proposals are similar to bills I have filed in the past, but was not able to get across the finish line. That’s the nature of the legislative process, as only a small percentage of the bills introduced each year become law.
Among my top priorities for 2022 is a proposal to finally do something about all the unlicensed gambling machines we see popping up around the state. I would like to see these “grey” slot machines go away and be replaced with legal, regulated video gaming terminals that are monitored by the Missouri Lottery. I have also filed legislation to legalize sports wagering in Missouri. I think we all know that Missourians bet on the outcome of sporting events already, but they do so under the table or out of state. Both of my proposals would legitimize activities that take place currently, provide assurance that games are operated fairly and bring much needed revenue to the state.
Another measure I sponsored this year would once again put the Show-Me State in the movie business. Years ago, we offered a tax incentive to television and film producers who brought projects to Missouri. Once the old incentive lapsed, these projects moved to other states. My legislation would bring entertainment jobs back to Missouri and give a huge boost to local economies.
I am also proposing several measures to encourage agricultural production in Missouri. One bill would create tax incentives for biodiesel producers, while another includes tax credits for Missouri’s timber industry and meat producers. I also have sponsored legislation to extend a successful agricultural grant program. My Missouri Rural Workforce Development Act would spur economic activity in small towns and agriculture areas of the state, while another bill I’m sponsoring would further the expansion of high-speed internet service in rural areas.
I have a lot I’d like to accomplish, and a short time to get it done. I invite you all to follow along, and watch the action. You can listen to Senate proceedings online at www.senate.mo.gov, and I’ll be sure to keep you up to date with my Capitol Report, which you can read at the Senate website or in your local newspaper.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4302. You may also email me at email@example.com.