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Missouri lawmakers debate medical marijuana, campaign limits this week

Committee hearings in the Missouri House and Senate will focus on medical marijuana, campaign contribution limits, police body cameras, tax cuts and daylight saving time.
Committee hearings in the Missouri House and Senate will focus on medical marijuana, campaign contribution limits, police body cameras, tax cuts and daylight saving time.

Have unlimited campaign contributions damaged Missouri’s political system?

If marijuana can reduce the suffering of those with a terminal illness, should it still be illegal?

But perhaps most importantly: Should Missourians be forced to adjust their clocks twice a year?

These questions and more will be discussed this week by the Missouri General Assembly.

Here are five things we’re keeping an eye on.

Monday

The House Emerging Issues Committee will discuss legalizing medical marijuana upon adjournment of the House.

Under the legislation, HB2213, the state could issue up to 30 licenses for medical cannabis centers and 30 licenses for medical cannabis cultivation and production facilities. The licenses would cost $12,500 a piece, and those wishing to get one would have to provide proof they already have $500,000 in assets. Doctors could prescribe medical marijuana for illnesses such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, Parkinson’s disease and others.

Lawmakers considered the bill last year before ultimately taking a pass. The lobbying effort in support of the proposal included numerous trips by lawmakers to Colorado to visit marijuana dispensaries as well as cultivation facilities.

Also Monday, lawmakers will discuss whether to do away with daylight saving time. Under HJR60, the last clock change in accordance with daylight saving time would take place on the first Sunday in March, 2017. However, that change only takes place if two adjacent states adopt the same proposal. Until then, Missouri will continue to spring forward and fall back.

The House Government Efficiency Committee will discuss the idea at noon (that’s central standard time).

Tuesday

Voters overwhelming approved campaign contribution limits in 1994. The then-Democrat-controlled legislature passed its own set of contribution limits the same year. But by 2008, Republicans had swept into power in both the Missouri House and Senate, and voted to repeal the limits.

Sen. David Pearce, a Warrensburg Republican, voted in favor of repeal that year. He’s said repeatedly in recent years that he regrets that vote. Now, he’s sponsoring SB570, a bill that would impose $5,000 limits on donations to candidates for statewide office, such as governor or attorney general, $2,500 limits for donations to state senators and $1,250 limits for donations to state representatives.

Legislative leaders have already pronounced the idea dead, but the Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee will hold a public hearing at 9 a.m.

Wednesday

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, a St. Louis Democrat, is sponsoring legislation mandating police departments in cities with a population larger than 100,000 people require officers wear body cameras at all times while on duty and in uniform. Officers would have to activate the camera to record, from beginning to end, all contacts with people in the performance of their official duties.

The recordings from the cameras must be retained by the law enforcement agency for at least two years and are open records in the same manner as incident reports. The state would pick up the tab for the recording equipment.

The Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee will discuss the legislation, SB628, at 8:15 a.m.

Thursday

Two years ago Republican lawmakers passed a $620 million tax cut, gradually reducing the top individual income tax rate from 6 percent to 5.5 percent and creating a 25 percent deduction for business income. The cuts begin to phase in starting next year.

Sen. Eric Schmitt, a St. Louis County Republican running for governor, wants to double those tax cuts. His proposal, SB574, will be discussed by the Senate Ways and Means Committee at 8:30 a.m.

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