Legislative Update: Time is Running Out… Which is a Good Thing

Jul 8, 2024

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Lawmakers Still Need to Do a Lot

Four weeks of legislative session remain and only two bills have been sent to the governor’s desk. As I’ve mentioned in earlier updates, the General Assembly needs to pass SB 748 (Hough R-30) — legislation authorizing the federal reimbursement allowance (FRA) — and the budget all within the remaining time.

While the House passed the budget and sent it to the Senate, the Senate Appropriations Committee has not addressed it meaning it cannot get to the Senate floor and the FRA bill has not passed the Senate or House. All this work still needs to be completed yet bills instigating culture wars are being voted out of both chambers. It is speculative that both the budget and FRA are being stalled until the House votes to pass HB 2634 (Smith R-163), a bill preventing Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood, known as defunding Planned Parenthood.

While the Senate stalls, issues deeply affecting LGBTQ+ Missourians were debated last week. SB 787 (Razer D-7), or known as the Missouri Non-Discrimination Act, had a public hearing in the Senate General Laws Committee last Wednesday. It is the 26th year we have fought for MONA to become law of the land.

History repeated itself as Sen. Doug Beck took to task Timothy Faber, legislative liaison for the Missouri Baptist Convention and former Commissioner of the Missouri Human Rights Committee. The senator made it clear there was no tolerance for his bigotry in the committee hearing as Faber attempted to testify yet again as an unaffiliated individual. He was removed from the commission for doing the same thing last year.

TL;DR — Here are the TWO steps to take action this week:

  1. Sign up to testify with us on SB 1125 and get notified when it is scheduled for a public hearing.
  2. Donate to support our deep canvassing efforts to help change the hearts and minds of Missourians across the state.

This past week, SB 1125 (Brown R-26) — a bill prohibiting public colleges and universities in Missouri from enforcing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies — was scheduled for a public hearing and later canceled. The committee it was assigned to, the Senate Select Committee on Empowering Missouri Parents and Children, meets on Tuesdays at 8:00 am. We’re anticipating it may be rescheduled as soon as this upcoming Tuesday and we need you to join us to testify against it. Please sign-up below and we’ll contact you as soon as we know definitively when it is scheduled. 

We’ve seen it regularly how politicians prioritize culture wars and wedge issues over solutions to actual issues facing every day Missourians. It is time we take action, which is why we are launching a deep canvassing initiative this spring aimed at changing the hearts and minds of voters. Through one-on-one conversations, we’ll aim to inoculate voters against homophobic and transphobic rhetoric and invite them to become equality voters. This change will allow us to shift the makeup of our state government from one of hate to one of acceptance and equality.

We recently hired a Field Director, which allows us to deep canvass for the first time in five years and we need your support. Not only are you able to aid in driving our deep canvassing program, but you’ll empower the long-lasting change we aim to create in Missouri. Will you join us in this vital effort by making a donation today? 

Earlier this week, the House passed a major and controversial omnibus education bill, SB 727 (Koenig R-15). Under this 167-page bill, the state expands charter schools and creates voucher programs that threaten public education. Private voucher schools do not provide the same rights and protections to students as public schools, such as those in Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Every Student Succeeds Act. Furthermore, vouchers often deny admission to, or expel, LGBTQ+ students and students with LGBTQ+ family members.

You may have noticed the bill had support from some Democrats and that was due to the celebratory provisions it makes like providing more money for traditional public schools and raising the minimum for teacher salaries. Other provisions like modifying suicide prevention information printed on the ID cards of public school students in 7-12 grade also saw bipartisan support.

The bill, for both its good and detrimentally negative outcomes, will cost the state $400 million annually. Our partners at Missouri Equity Education Partnership worked incredibly hard to stop this bill from passing, and we support them in a continued fight to bring robust and comprehensive education to all students, families, and communities.

Additionally, SB 1459 (Koenig R-15) was publicly heard in the Senate Emerging Issues Committee. This bill is another gender-affirming health care ban, and conservative lawmakers used the opportunity of this public hearing to viciously dehumanize transgender Missourians. Our partners in reproductive health care rights and coalition organizations showed up with us to support transgender Missourians. One important item to note is that with four weeks of session left, it is highly unlikely this bill will move forward.