Legislative Update: Education is a Target This Week

Jul 8, 2024

Share on Social

Multiple Upcoming Hearings

The Freedom Caucus ended a 16-hour filibuster Tuesday morning meant to pressure their fellow Republicans into prioritizing legislation that would increase the threshold of signatures needed for Missourians to create laws themselves through the ballot initiative process. Their filibuster, time consumingly spent reading offensive books, ended in a deal to hear this bill in committee — the same deal offered weeks ago. The question we lead with now is, does the Freedom Caucus care more about reforming the people’s lawmaking process, to stop Missourians from gaining back abortion access, or do they care more about holding up business to gain points for their 2024 elections? So far, their own egos are winning out. Expect this behavior to be the norm as the session moves forward, and expect very few bills to pass out of the General Assembly.

On the same day, the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition (MOVPC) held its Voting Rights Lobby Day that drew individuals and organizations from across the state to stand up against attempts to disenfranchise voters through strict voter ID laws and to stand up for people’s rights to bring issues Missourians actually care about to the ballot box. It was powerful to see so many people defending and protecting their right to have their voices heard in their government.

TL;DR — Here are the FIVE steps to take action:

  1. Sign up to testify with us on Monday, February 5 at 12 p.m. against HB 1518 (Hudson), a bill that will force public college and university campuses to discriminate against students.
  2. Can’t make it on Monday? Submit written testimony on HB 1518 sharing your voice and expertise through the House website.
  3. Support community members testifying in-person by donating $15.50 for gas cards to help offset their costs.
  4. Contact members of the Rules Legislative Oversight Committee  and urge them to vote NO on HB 1520 (see details on bill below).
  5. Register to join Missouri Equity Education Partnership at their Advocacy Day on Tuesday, February 6 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

This Monday, February 5 at 12 p.m. the House Special Committee on Government Accountability will hold a public hearing on HB 1518 (Hudson). This bill will force public college and university campuses to discriminate against students. It will require universities and colleges to recognize and provide taxpayer funds to student groups that discriminate against its members and the student body in adherence to the group’s political, ideological, or religious beliefs. Essentially allowing student groups the right to self-select and limit its members based on protected characteristics such as race, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. 

Participation in student organizations is a significant way for students to obtain meaningful leadership opportunities, personal and professional contacts, and feel a sense of belonging on campus. Schools have a responsibility to ensure all students feel safe on campus, and this bill opens up the opportunity for hate groups to legally form on campus. 

We need your voices to show up  — join us to testify if you are a student, faculty, or staff member in higher education or if you represent a deeply held faith and understand that religious protections should not be used to permiss hate. If you are interested in coming to testify with us, please fill out the form below. Remember you can submit written testimony online and call committee legislators. 

Additionally, HB 1520 (Hudson) is up for an executive session vote in the House Rules Legislative Oversight Committee at 2 p.m. If this bill is voted out, it will be added to the House calendar and could be brought up for a floor debate at any time.

As a reminder, HB 1520 is now made up of two bills — HB 1519 giving doctors a license to discriminate and refuse to offer gender-affirming surgery and HB 1520 which removes the grandfather and sunset clauses of the current law banning gender affirming health care, SB 49. You’ll also see two other numbers on this bill (HB 2355 and HB 2357) included in the title only, but not added as content in the bill. Contact members of the Rules Legislative Oversight Committee and urge them to vote NO on HB 1520.

Showing up to Jefferson City to testify is exhausting and often harmful, which is why we hope you’ll prioritize your needs and let us take turns showing up as a community. There are many ways to influence our state government that we need you to take action on that don’t require you to come to the State Capitol: 

  1. Submit written testimony sharing your voice and expertise through the House website on HB 1518.
  2. Support our community members testifying in-person by donating $15.50 for us to purchase gas cards to help offset their costs.
  3. Our coalition partners MOEEP are hosting their Advocacy Day on Tuesday, February 6 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Protecting and demanding the equity of our educational system is critical to ensuring our children have the best possible opportunities to succeed. Join us Tuesday to speak with your state legislators about the educational opportunities we MUST make in our state. Register to join MOEEP in Jefferson City for its Advocacy Day this Tuesday!

Our team will be in the State Capitol on Tuesday, February 6 to support Missouri Equity Education Partnership (MOEEP) and demand education be rooted in equity.  

Aside from their Advocacy Day, at 8 a.m., five different bills focused on public education will be heard in the Senate Select Committee on Empowering Missouri Parents and Children. SB 1051 (Trent) specially focused on open enrollment for public schools. Bills like this could have devastating effects in Missouri like re-segregation. Open enrollment would lead to state education dollars following students, even as those students choose private schools, leading to public schools having even less resources to offer their students. Bills like these defund public education and weaken the system of school accreditation. 

At 2 p.m., the House General Laws Committee will hear a slate of four bills focused on restricting minors from accessing harmful material on the internet. Some pieces of these proposed bills are favorable and we recognize could make Internet access experiences healthier for youth. However, HB 2157, goes too far. This bill would force youth to acquire internet patrolled parental consent to access resources and community online. This poses a risk to LGBTQ+ youth of being outed, facing violence, or family rejection, and chilling the ability of young people to use social media as a means of finding community, educational resources, and support related to their identity. Protecting youth mental health online is a complex and evolving topic and there are no simple solutions to addressing the potential risks of social media — many of which, including depression and anxiety, are known to disproportionately harm LGBTQ+ youth. Therefore, it is vital legislation not have the unintended effect of harming vulnerable youth.

PROMO and our organization partners will testify against this bill representing our community. As we’ve mentioned, this session is different. The Senate in-fighting is producing committee assignments for every bill! Show up with online written testimony and phone calls to committee members. This year we must do everything possible to protect our energy and vote with everything we have to elect leaders that represent us!