Legislative Update: Republican In-Fighting Helps and Complicates Things

Jul 8, 2024

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Things Were Messy This Week

This last week has made one thing clear: there are now three parties in the Missouri Senate — Democrats, Republicans, and the Freedom Caucus.

The Freedom Caucus is primarily responsible for holding up the Senate’s ability to function since week one, and the rest of the chamber is frankly getting fed up. In this past week, leadership removed all the Freedom Caucus members from their chair positions on committees, took away their parking spots, and literally moved office furniture out of some of their offices. The week’s events culminated when Senate Floor Leader, Sen. O’Laughlin threatened to remove a Senator from the Senate.

With all that being said and done, there are some ramifications that will impact us directly. The Senate referred every bill on its calendar to committees, which means most of those have over 50 bills to schedule for hearings creating an enormous backlog likely meaning even slower movement. Additionally, because of the rearrangement on chair positions, Senate leadership created new committees and disbanded others like the no-longer existing Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee.

The House, surprisingly, is proceeding as a typical functioning assembly moving bills faster than anticipated. Multiple committees have voted bills out for referral to one of three Rules Committees, so we expect floor debate to begin within the next week or two.

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

  1. Contact your Senator and tell them to vote NO on SB 728 when it comes up for debate on the Senate floor.
  2. Send a message of thanks to champion legislators — Sens. Greg Razer (D), Lauren Arthur (D), Doug Beck (D), and Elaine Gannon (R). 
  3. Attend our Happy Hour Fundraiser for PROMO PAC on Thursday, February 1 from 5-8 p.m. in Springfield, MO (RSVP for FREE!)
Sen. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, offers amendments to a bill in the Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee Tuesday (Annelise Hanshaw/Missouri Independent).

House Update

The House Emerging Issues committee voted out several of the anti-trans bills last week during executive session. Both Rep. Hudson’s bills, HB 1519 (a license for doctors to discriminate) and 1520 (removing the grandfather and sunset clauses of last year’s SB 49), were combined in a substitute bill and voted out together. 

Two other bills numbers (HB 2355 and HB 2357) were included in this substitution; however, the bill text that includes a bathroom ban for trans Missourians were not included. This new, heartless tactic allows bill sponsors to receive credit for attacking trans youth without their specific policies moving forward. We will continue to extend significant pressure to stop these bills from moving forward.

Senate Update

After the snow day, this past Tuesday, the Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee voted SB 728 (before it was disbanded as a committee), a bill disguised as parental rights that makes LGBTQ+ students more vulnerable in classrooms, at home, and now bathrooms. The bill author, Sen. Koenig, amended the original bill during committee by adding a bathroom ban forcing students to use school restrooms according to their sex assigned on their birth certificate rather than aligning with the gender identity.

The amendment was not added quietly as Senators from both sides of the aisles opposed it for its harm and for the fact that the committee did not hear public testimony on the topic. We’re sincerely grateful to Sens. Razer (D), Arthur (D), Beck (D), and Gannon (R) who not only fought against Sen. Koenig’s amendment, but they voted no against the bill to support students and teachers The bill will be added to the Senate calendar for floor debate, which means we need you to contact your Senators and tell them to VOTE NO on SB 728! 

Senate leadership also created a new Select Committee called Empowering Missouri Parents and Children. This committee has almost all of the relevant education related bills referred to it, including anti-LGBTQ+ bills; however, we have fewer allies in this one than we had in the former committee. All bills which were originally heard in the Education & Workforce Development Committee would have to be heard again in the new committee if the chair wants to move those forward. We’re closely monitoring this committee.

Here are three other ways to support right now:

  1. Send your appreciation and encouragement to three Democrats and one Republican who fought to defend LGBTQ+ students in executive session on SB 728. Not only did they fight against Sen. Koenig’s amendment but they voted no against the bill to support students and teachers.
  2. Help us vote in pro-equality candidates to break the supermajority in our state. Join us on Thursday, February 1 from 5-8 p.m. at Q Enoteca in Springfield to learn how you can take part in our work and help elect pro-equality candidates. We’ll also hear remarks from House Minority Leader and Gubernatorial Candidate, Rep. Crystal Quade! RSVP for free for the Springfield, MO happy hour event this Thursday!
  3. Protecting our right to advocate for ourselves and create laws we want to see is extremely important. Our friends at the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition (MOVPC) are hosting a lobby day on Tuesday, January 30 where you can learn about what is at stake for voting rights including how they are helping to protect Majority Rule for citizens. Register today if you’re able to join MOVPC for its lobby day this Tuesday!

While the General Assembly attacks trans and queer Missourians in both chambers, our champion legislators continue to show up both defensively and proactively. The Missouri Non-Discrimination Act (MONA) has been filed in both the House and Senate, which could potentially be the first year in a long run where MONA is filed by Democrats only. We remain steadfast in gaining bipartisan support for this bill, but this could further highlight the polarizing political environment in our country.