JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri lawmakers have passed more than 40 pieces of legislation as of Wednesday afternoon. The procedural steps that follow, which include legislative leaders signing the bills and sending them to the governor, are a boring formality in normal times.
These are not normal times in the Missouri Capitol.
Republican leaders in the Senate and House have refrained from signing almost all of the bills that have been passed by both chambers, preventing them from moving on to Gov. Eric Greitens, also a Republican.
Greitens, who is facing two felony charges, has stood firm against calls for him to resign as he moves toward his first trial next week in St. Louis. Some in the legislature, including Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, have voiced concern that Greitens could use his signature as leverage over lawmakers.
"He can't sign 'em unless I sign 'em," is how Richard. R-Joplin, phrased it last month.
Richard and his counterpart, House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, have sent only two small budget bills and an anti-human-trafficking bill to the governor since lawmakers convened in early January. Greitens has signed all three.
"At this point of the year, it’s common practice that bills won’t be signed by the Pro Tem until after adjournment," said Lauren Hieger, a spokeswoman for Senate Republicans, on Wednesday. "Typically the Speaker and the Pro Tem pick a day before or on May 30 where they sign all of the bills in one day."
But most legislation remains out of the hands of the governor at a time when lawmakers are readying for a historic, self-initiated special session in which they could vote to impeach Greitens. The Missouri legislature has never taken this step; a sitting governor has never been impeached, indicted or faced a felony trial before.
"We look forward to reviewing and acting on the legislation passed this year," said Parker Briden, the spokesman for Greitens' office, on Wednesday. "The Governor signed a bill (Wednesday), and we are working with the legislature on bills still going through the legislative process now."
Lawmakers are set to adjourn May 18 and almost immediately convene a special session to consider investigating and consider impGreitens, though the regular session is technically set to end May 30.
A full list of bills that the legislature has truly agreed and finally passed is available online at house.mo.gov. Here's a look at some of the non-budget House bills(and when they were finally passed, according to legislative records) in the order they were filed:
- HB 1252 Requires insurance coverage for annual mammograms from women age 40 and up, down from the current age of 50, and changing definitions and reimbursement rates for such procedures (May 9)
- HB 1268 Allows the state dental board to issue dental faculty permits to employees of accredited Missouri schools or programs (May 1)
- HB 1286 Allows the Department of Public Safety to charge higher fees on explosives to support a fund weakened by the recession (May 1)
- HB1465 Allows the state coordinating board of higher education to approve, for example, new degree programs at Missouri State University and Ozarks Technical Community College, though the permission of the University of Missouri would be required in cases including engineering degrees (March 28)
- HB 1492 Extends benefits eligibility under the Show-Me Heroes Program, which helps National Guard members and their spouses with job searches, from one year to five years (May 1)
- HB 1500 Deregulates the practice of hair-braiding (May 1)
- HB 1504 Allows two southwest Missouri counties (Newton and McDonald) to adopt certain land-use regulations near National Guard training centers (March 28)
- HB 1531 Changes liability rules for insurance companies in certain lawsuits and limits fees the state can pay to private attorneys retained for civil cases (March 28)
- HB 1646 Expands existing brush-control law with the intent of preventing brush from interfering with vehicles on roads in certain rural counties and allowing for a special tax to be added to the real and personal property tax assessment of landowners who fail to clear brush (May 9)
- HB 1665 Creates a teaching certificate for visiting scholars to teach in public high schools that could be valid for up to three years (March 14)
- HB 1690 Updates some insurance laws to align with a national model (April 24)
- HB 1744 Expands access to scholarship funds for certain high school graduates, bans colleges from requiring students with documented food allergies to buy meal plans, and permits people with 529 education accounts to keep a tax exemption if they transfer funds to accounts for people with disabilities (May 3)
- HB 1838 Allows the state to sell or transfer certain property in Jefferson City (March 28)
- HB 1880 States the intent of the General Assembly to encourage cooperation in the name of expanding rural broadband (May 3)
- HB 1887 Provides additional protections for homeowners in homeowners' associations who wish to display political signs on their property (May 8)
- HB 2034 Legalizes the growing, cultivation and harvesting of industrial hemp (May 3)
- HB 2101 Exempts fees from being waived for court-appointed lawyers who represent children in certain cases (May 1)
- HB 2116 Creates exemptions for older outboard-motor boats from passenger safety provisions on certain waterways and caps fees for not having required flotation devices at $25 (May 1)
- HB 2183 Allows for expanded campus premises to be defined by hospital license applicants and changes and clarifies hospital review requirements for certain facilities (May 9)
- HB 2330 Allows a stretch of road in St. Louis County to be named after slain St. Louis County Police Officer Blake Snyder, who was killed in 2016 (May 8)
There is a similar stack-up among Senate bills,including legislation that:
- SB 573 Authorizes an income tax deduction for National Guard and armed-forces reserve members for military pay, creates a "Veterans' Bill of Rights," allows private businesses to use their preference to hire and promote veterans and certain spouses of veterans, establishes a grant program to aid military installations, allows veteran-owned small businesses to receive lending benefits through a state reduced-rate loan program, and requires state buildings to fly the POW/MIA flag (April 19)
- SB 592 Makes numerous election-law changes, including allowing Lebanon voters to decide whether to add a public-safety sales tax, requiring the state to cover additional election costs, and increasing the buffer zone for electioneering from 25 feet to 100 feet (April 19)
- SB 593 Requires certain insurers to conduct internal audits and file annual "corporate governance" reports with the state Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (April 25)
- SB 594 Exempts certain commercial insurance lines and policies from state filings (April 25)
- SB 623 Changes how surplus proceeds from real estate foreclosure sales are disbursed to lien holders before property owners and states that any funds left undistributed after three years shall become local school funding (April 19)
- SB 644 Criminalizes the failure to register with the state treasurer for people who recover unclaimed property in return for compensation in certain cases (May 3)
- SB 659 Requires the Department of Natural Resources to annually report on maintenance, repair and construction activities at state parks and historic sites, extends the state's lead-acid battery fee and the petroleum storage tank insurance fund for five years, creates a radioactive waste investigation fund, carves out a regulatory exemption for City Utilities' active coal ash landfill, increases the limits on grants for some utility projects from $1,400 to $3,000 per connection and empowers some nonprofits to own polluted property that is being rehabilitated in Missouri's lead country, and gives the director of the Department of Agriculture the ability to dispense with certain fuel standards in the event of "an extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstance as a result of a petroleum pipeline or petroleum refinery equipment failure, emergency, or a natural disaster" (May 7)
- Additionally, on May 3, lawmakers finally passed many similar provisions in a separate bill, as well as a third bill specific to coal ash regulation and exemptions
- SB 683 Requires the Highways and Transportation Commission to issue special permits for construction crane transportation (May 1)
- SB 705 Allows certain public water utilities to seek rate adjustments and requires other water corporations to develop competitive bidding process requirements for infrastructure construction projects (May 3)
- SB 768 Gives telephone companies a one-time chance to decide how their property tax assessment is made — while giving school districts a way to make up revenue lost as a result — and expanding manufacturing exemptions to sales and use taxes to include telecommunications services (May 8)
- SB 814 Changes the notation on Missouri driver's licenses for people who are deaf or hard of hearing (May 1)
- SB 840 Updates terminology regarding registered dietitians (May 3)
- SB 862 Creates an optional statewide electrician license (May 2)
- SB 894 Creates a statewide program through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to spread awareness of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics among middle-school students, and paves a path for more high school students to take computer-science classes (May 3)
- SB 990 Allows another way for a community college district to attach to a school district and levy a tax (May 3).