Nearly 300 bills were filed by Missouri lawmakers Thursday, including high-profile measures to ban lobbyist gifts to elected officials and enact tougher regulations on labor unions.
Thursday was the first day bills could be pre-filed for the 2017 session. And much of the action took place in the Senate, where 180 bills were submitted.
Senate Bill 1 belongs to Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph, the senior member of the upper chamber. His bill would provide $100 tax credits to taxpayers who make qualifying political donations.
In the House, Republican state Rep. Justin Alferman of Gasconade County is once again sponsoring legislation that would prohibit lobbyists from giving gifts to elected officials. The idea cleared the House last session but ran into fierce opposition in the Senate, where it ultimately died.
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Alferman said he knows negotiations with the Senate will ultimately decide the fate of his bill.
“The House has proven our position is going to be zero. We can’t even start negotiating on what the final bill’s going to look like until we get it back from the Senate,” he said. “Between infinity and zero … there’s a lot of wiggle room.”
The bill getting the most attention that was filed Thursday would make Missouri a “right-to-work” state.
In right-to-work states, such as Kansas, employees in unionized workplaces need not pay unions for the cost of being represented. Republicans have been trying to pass right-to-work legislation for years, but they’ve never had a governor willing to sign it or enough votes to override a veto.
That changed with the election of Republican Gov.-elect Eric Greitens, who has made it clear that he’ll sign right-to-work if lawmakers put it on his desk. And with Republican super majorities in both the House and Senate, its passage is seen as a foregone conclusion.
Republican state Sen. Dan Brown of Phelps County filed the bill in the Senate. Republican Reps. Holly Rehder of Sikeston and Bill White of Joplin filed the bill in the House.
Among the laundry list of bills filed Thursday include:
▪ Legislation making crime against law enforcement or other first responders a hate crime.
▪ Legislation doing away with marriage and replacing it with domestic partnerships.
▪ Legislation allowing counties to opt out of the prevailing wage law for projects under $750,000.
▪ A constitutional amendment to assert the right of Missourians to hunt and fish.
▪ A constitutional amendment changing how judges are chosen for the state Supreme Court.
The 2017 legislative session begins Jan. 4 at noon and ends May 12 at 6 p.m.