Missouri legislature concludes veto and extraordinary sessions

The General Assembly approved bills relating to STEM education and state treatment courts

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Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with additional details.


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri General Assembly recently concluded its annual veto session as well as an additional extraordinary session.

Ultimately, the legislature as a whole chose not to override any of the governor’s vetoes, although the House of Representatives did vote to overturn a few line item vetoes in the state’s 2019 operating budget. The Senate confirmed several gubernatorial appointees, and the legislature passed bills dealing with STEM education and drug treatment courts.

Missouri Legislature Concludes Veto and Extraordinary Sessions.Still007

The STEM education bill approved by the legislature, House Bill 3, will allow high school students to take a computer science course, as a substitute for one mathematics, science or practical arts course, to fulfill part of their graduation requirements. It also allows for funding to train computer science instructors and creates a STEM Career Awareness Program for middle school students.

Supporters of the bill hope it will fill a growing demand for workers in computer science and related fields.

“Here in Missouri, 10,000 computer science jobs go unfilled every year because of a lack of graduates in those fields,” Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis, said.

Others voiced concerns that allowing students to swap math for computer science will leave graduates unprepared for the rigors of college-level math. Supporters of the bill argued computer science and math are overlapping disciplines, and so substituting one for the other will not harm a student’s education, especially when the substitution is only for one course.

“Three credits in math,” Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, said, referencing current high school graduation requirements. “One of those credits can be substituted for a vocational training course. Another one of those credits can be substituted by taking an agricultural course. And now that third credit in math can be substituted by taking computer science.”

House Bill 3 contains a provision requiring a student to be “on track” to complete math and science courses that require and end-of-course evaluation under the Missouri school improvement plan, so it’s not clear high school students would be able to forego math entirely and still graduate.

The General Assembly also approved House Bill 2, expanding the state’s drug court system, which helps offenders suffering from addiction become productive members of society. Studies have shown these types of programs lower recidivism rates, leading some lawmakers to support them on the basis of fiscal responsibility.

Under House Bill 2, Missouri’s alternative courts, such as drug and family courts, will be consolidated under one banner: that of “treatment” courts.

“Because treatment courts work,” Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, said. “As we heard in committee, a 49 percent reduction in recidivism rate if you’re looking at it, as defined, as it is, as the individual not coming back and being arrested for a felony offense.”

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, proposed an amendment to the bill establishing separate courts for mental-health-related offenses. Some supporters of the bill as written argued mental health courts were unnecessary, as mental health already falls under the larger umbrella of “treatment” and is often a concurrent factor in many drug and substance abuse cases.

Nasheed’s amendment was voted down before the Senate gave its final approval to the bill.

During the week’s veto session, the Senate officially welcomed a new member: Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City. Arthur, who won a special election for the seat vacated by former Sen. Ryan Silvey in June, was sworn into office by Missouri Supreme Court Judge Mary Russell.

 

Previewing the Missouri legislature’s veto and extraordinary sessions

Lawmakers are set to consider a new STEM education program and reforms to drug treatment courts

Language for this article originally appeared in a legislative column for Missouri Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, drafted by Zachary Reger.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A few weeks ago, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson called for an extraordinary session of the Missouri General Assembly to deal with two ongoing legislative issues: STEM education and drug treatment courts.

On Monday, the legislature convened for the extraordinary session, which is currently set to conclude on Friday. On Wednesday, in the midst of the extraordinary session, the legislature will also conduct its annual veto session, when lawmakers consider whether to override any of the governor’s legislative vetoes.

While lawmakers are gathered in Jefferson City, several legislative committees will also meet to address various concerns.

Article IV, Section 9, of the Missouri Constitution grants the governor the power to call the General Assembly into an extraordinary session, so named because it occurs outside of the regular legislative session that runs from January to May of each year. Traditionally, the governor has only exercised this power when there is a pressing need for the legislature to address a certain matter before the start of a new regular session.

One goal of this extraordinary session is to consider a career awareness program for students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, often abbreviated as “STEM.” The legislature will also weigh an expansion of Missouri’s drug treatment courts, which seek to rehabilitate offenders suffering from drug addiction.

The extraordinary session is an effort by the governor to avoid a straight override of two of his vetoes. Parson vetoed Senate Bill 894, which deals with STEM education, after it appeared certain provisions were narrowly tailored to apply to a single company — illegal under Missouri law. He vetoed House Bill 2562, which reforms the state’s drug treatment courts, under the justification that the bill unconstitutionally deals with multiple subjects.

The extraordinary session gives the General Assembly an opportunity to address the governor’s concerns on these bills by passing replacement legislation, as opposed to simply overriding the vetoes with a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

 

Missouri receives grace period extension for Real ID compliance

State-issued IDs may be used for federal purposes until Jan. 22, 2018

Language for this article is taken from a press release from Missouri Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, drafted by Zachary Reger.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The United States Department of Homeland Security has extended the grace period for Missouri to make the switch to federally-compliant forms of personal identification. State-issued IDs, such as a Missouri driver license, may now be used for federal purposes until Jan. 22, 2019.

In 2005, Congress passed the Real ID Act, enacting new federal standards for state-issued identification cards following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The act was aimed at strengthening national security at airports, military bases and various other federal facilities, but some critics raised privacy concerns over its document retention requirement.

Since then, many states have begun the process of switching to more secure forms of identification. Last year, the Missouri General Assembly approved House Bill 151, later signed into law, making future state licenses automatically compliant with Real ID unless an applicant specifically requests a noncompliant license.

According to the Department of Revenue, Missouri has applied for a full extension, through Oct. 10, 2019, for issuing federally-compliant licenses — a request which may still be granted at a later date. The department says it will not be able to issue compliant identification until March 2019.