Legislative session finishes up
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Legislative session finishes up

Date: May 18, 2007
By: Sarah D. Wire
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The five month legislative session ended Friday with a spurt of activity as the legislature attempted to approve the major issues that governor outlined January in his State of the State address.

The momentum resolved several high profile bills, but some other key issues never made it to the governor's desk. 

In the last week of the session, both chambers worked to fix problems created through previously passed legislation, culminating in a push Friday to pass the other bills.

"I don't think the Senate Republicans got played by the House, I think the Senate Republicans are a bunch of punks," Senate Minority Leader Maida Coleman, D- St. Louis said. Coleman had to repeat the statement to reporters and said she could not use the other "P-word" she had in mind.

Coleman charged the Senate's Republican leadership had used forced a vote on several bills because the House Speaker was holding the Mo HealthNet bill until the Senate passed bills that were important to him.

Senate leaders denied the allegation and the governor came to the defense of other Republicans.

"They're friends, the House leadership and Senate leadership, but they're also very tough minded leaders and I can assure you that no one body rules the other," Gov. Matt Blunt said at a joint Republican press conference.

Republican leaders were optimistic about what they accomplished this year but Democrats claimed the General Assembly pushed the wrong issues all session long.

"Legislation was rushed through in a haphazard fashion this year and we don't know what the consequences will be," House Minority Whip Connie Johnson stated in a news release. "This session has not been an exercise in good government."

The governor praised the session citing the passage of the MOHELA legislation and MO HealthNet legislation as key victories.

The Senate passed 8 percent or 57 of the 710 bills introduced at the beginning of the legislature, the House passed 5.8 percent or 76 of the 1,292 bills introduced. Below is an updated list of the key issues of the legislative session and where they stood as of the end of the session.

 

Mo HealthNet

After several changes, and threats of a special legislative session from the governor, the health care reform bill was passed Friday afternoon. Both chambers presented radically different versions of the bill in the weeks leading up to the vote and were able to reach a compromise early Friday morning. The bill has now been sent to the governor's desk to be signed. The bill reorganized the state Medicaid program, creates a chronic kidney disease task force, and extends Medicaid coverage to foster children until they turn 21.

Abortion

Sent to the governor Friday afternoon after Republicans forced a vote in the Senate. The bill requires state oversight of abortion clinics, allows schools to teach abstinence only education and bans people involved with abortion clinics from teaching sexual education.

Minimum Wage Fix

A law passed by 76 percent of voters in November 2006 inadvertently requires overtime pay for police, firefighters and other emergency personnel, a move some Missouri communities have said will bankrupt them. The bill repealing that section of the law was brought before the House Friday but after very limited discussion it was returned to the House calendar and not brought up again before the close of the session.

MOHELA

The bill went to the Governor's desk in early May and has not yet been signed. The governor has been talking about the higher loan sale since Fall 2005 and the program face many changes this year, including a ban on stem cell research in buildings funded by the sale and the removal of projects in Kansas City and Columbia after two Senators participated in a filibuster.

Intellectual diversity

The bill proposed to increase intellectual diversity on college campuses. Commonly referred to as the Emily Brooker Intellectual Diversity Act, the bill passed through the House but was never discussed in the Senate. The bill's sponsor Rep. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, said she will try again next year with the bill.

English Only

A proposed constitutional amendment that would make English the official language of the state. A vote was forced on the bill Friday and if approved by the governor will be on the next statewide ballot.