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 appointments, and the legislature passed bills dealing with STEM education and drug treatment courts.
The STEM education bill approved by the legislature will allow high school students to take a computer science course, as a substitute for one mathematics 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.
Opponents of the STEM bill 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.
The General Assembly also voted to expand the state’s treatment 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.
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.