True to his word, Sen. Rob Schaaf did not filibuster a bill on Thursday establishing a prescription drug monitoring program in Missouri.
But after he sat down, other senators stood up.
After hours of debate, stretching into the evening, the Senate finally approved legislation that would end Missouri’s distinction as the only state in the country without a drug database. But not before a group of conservative senators attached amendments that once again put the bill in jeopardy.
Citing concerns with privacy rights, Sen. Will Kraus, a Lee’s Summit Republican, added a provision mandating that all data be purged from the database every six months. Sen. Andrew Koenig, a St. Louis County Republican, limited the type of drugs that would be included in the database.
Rep. Holly Rehder, a Sikeston Republican who has championed the drug monitoring program for years, said she was disappointed in how the bill turned out.
“Several of the senators just don’t understand addiction,” she said.
The bill now heads to a conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions.
Repairing roads and bridges, or not
Two times this week, Missouri lawmakers rejected ideas for funding repairs of the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.
On Wednesday, the House rejected an amendment filed by Democratic Rep. Greg Razer of Kansas City that would have raised the state’s gas tax by 6 cents per gallon.
The gas tax now is 17 cents per gallon, the lowest in the nation.
On Thursday, the Senate transportation, infrastructure and public safety committee voted against a proposal by Republican Sen. Bill Eigel of St. Charles County that would have directed state revenue from sales and use taxes into a state road fund. It would also have required the state to turn over maintenance of many miles of roadways to local governments.
State funds for road and bridge repair have tumbled in recent years, from $1.3 billion in 2009 to an estimated $800 million by 2017. With only four weeks left before the legislature adjourns for the year, a solution to the issue is unlikely.
Concealed weapons on campuses
A Republican lawmaker from southwest Missouri wants to expand the list of places where a person can legally carry a concealed firearm.
Rep. Jered Taylor, a Nixa Republican, is sponsoring legislation that would allow a concealed weapon to be carried on college campuses, in bars and into government meetings. Private businesses would still be allowed to prohibit firearms.
Taylor said that prohibiting guns from certain locations makes people less safe.
“Criminals know where the gun-free zones are,” Taylor said. “They know they’re going to be able to carry out their rampage and likely won’t be stopped until law enforcement arrives.”
Taylor’s legislation was met with skepticism from Rep. Jon Carpenter, a Kansas City Democrat.
“Is this for show or is this for real?” Carpenter asked during a committee hearing on the bill.
Becky Morgan, with the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, panned the legislation.
“Allowing hidden, loaded handguns in some of our most sensitive places, including schools, is dangerous,” she said.
The bill was approved by the House general laws committee on Wednesday.
Back in 2010, then-Gov. Jay Nixon used an executive order to eliminate 18 state boards and 227 appointed positions, arguing that they were no longer needed. And the Missouri House established a committee to study the further reduction of boards and commissions in the state.
On Wednesday, Gov. Eric Greitens joined the fray with an executive order creating a 12-person task force to study the state’s more than 200 boards or commissions and recommend which ones should be eliminated.
“This task force will shrink government and make it work better for the people,” Greitens said in a press release announcing the task force.
The task force will submit recommendations by Oct. 31.
Nothing from Topeka this week; the Legislature is on hiatus.