The First Regular Session of Missouri’s 102nd General Assembly has come to a close. We adjourned our business on May 12 having passed 64 separate pieces of legislation, including 19 budget …
The First Regular Session of Missouri’s 102nd General Assembly has come to a close. We adjourned our business on May 12 having passed 64 separate pieces of legislation, including 19 budget bills.
Fulfilling the Legislature’s sole constitutional obligation, the General Assembly sent the governor a balanced budget that fully funds K-12 education costs — including funding the state’s share of school transportation expenses for the second year in a row — and increases spending on Missouri’s public colleges and universities.
The record $50 billion budget includes an ambitious plan to rebuild Interstate 70, widening the critical artery to six lanes in each direction, and also funds initial planning for eventual improvements to Interstate 44 and Highway 63. Spending on health care, already the largest piece of the budget pie, grew even more due to voters approving Medicaid expansion in 2020.
Although the budget is subject to the governor’s line item veto authority, the numbers approved by the Legislature look promising for the 16th Senatorial District. State spending within our six counties totals more than $820 million, not counting transportation projects.
The Fiscal Year 2024 budget includes appropriations for improvements to the Fort Leonard Wood Airport, funding for the St. James veterans’ home, new facilities at area hospitals, infrastructure projects throughout the district and a variety of maintenance and renovation efforts. I’ll provide more details once we know what, if anything, gets vetoed, but it appears we’ll be seeing a lot of activity in our area in the coming year.
Among the legislation passed in 2023 are two bills related to transgender youth.
Senate Bill 39 prohibits transgender females (who were born male) from unfairly competing against biological females in student sports. Senate Bill 49 prohibits gender-altering procedures for children under the age of 18.
Other legislation sent to the governor this year will exempt Social Security benefits from state income taxes, extend postpartum medical coverage for low-income mothers to a full year after childbirth, ban texting while driving, restore an expired tax credit for motion picture production in Missouri and allow access to physical therapy without a doctor’s prescription.
I’m happy to report several of the bills I sponsored this year crossed the legislative finish line and are awaiting the governor’s signature:
Senate Bill 28: This legislation streamlines the process of obtaining crash reports through the Highway Patrol. Allowing citizens to electronically submit report requests will greatly increase efficiency and decrease turnaround time. The final version of the bill includes multiple provisions related to public records.
Senate Bill 186: I originally filed this bill to address “smash and grab” thefts of cash from ATM machines. These crimes often are linked to organized crime and typically involve using a large truck and tow chain to physically destroy or remove the machine. Creating a specific offense for this type of theft is intended to deter this criminal activity in Missouri and will protect critical financial services in our communities. Senate Bill 186 grew to become the primary public safety bill passed by the Legislature in 2023, and includes more than three dozen separate provisions relating to law enforcement, first responders and criminal offenses.
Senate Bill 116: This legislation repeals several burdensome regulations regarding death certificates to allow these documents to be issued in the shortest time possible. When a death certificate is not issued in a timely fashion, families are unnecessarily delayed settling estates, filing insurance claims, transfering titles or gaining access to bank accounts and safe deposit boxes.
Senate Bill 529: This legislation, which expands a loan program for large animal veterinary students, is headed the governor’s desk as part of Senate Bill 138. Originally named to honor an Osage County large animal veterinarian, the program will be renamed the Dr. Merril Townley and Dr. Dan Brown Large Animal Veterinary Student Loan Program in memory of my father, a former Missouri senator and large animal vet. The program currently provides loan repayments up to $20,000 per year for six veterinary students, but the program will grow to 12 applicants and up to $30,000 per year each upon the governor’s signature.
It’s my honor to serve as your senator for the 16th District. If you have questions or need any assistance, please call my office at 573-751-5713 or log onto my webpage at https://www.senate.mo.gov/brown for more information.
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