JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers have days to pass legislation before the deadline of May 13, the final day of the 2016 legislative session. A number of contested measures ranging from expanding gun rights to further regulating abortion and changing policies on union fees are pending. Here’s a breakdown of some of the issues still on the table:
Lawmakers passed a budget that includes provisions to end funding for non-abortion services at Planned Parenthood. Several other abortion-related measures are pending, including a bill to bar the donation of fetal tissue from abortions and a proposal to require both parents to be notified if a minor seeks an abortion, with some exceptions. A measure to add “unborn human children at every stage of biological development” to a state constitutional provision that protects the “right to life” passed the House this past week, but there’s limited time for the bill to make its way through the Senate by lawmakers’ Friday deadline.
Plagued by the resignations of two former lawmakers who stepped down amid allegations of inappropriate behavior toward interns, lawmakers pledged this session to revamp the state’s loose ethics policies and clean up the Capitol’s image. Lawmakers so far have passed bills to end the revolving door of lawmakers immediately leaving office to become lobbyists, a ban on lawmakers paying their colleagues as political consultants and legislation to bar most investments of campaign money. A bill to limit lobbyist gifts to legislators is pending in the Senate. Attempts to clamp down on unlimited campaign donations haven’t met success.
Bills that have gained traction in reaction to the 2014 unrest in Ferguson after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown include a measure to lower fines for some minor traffic and ordinance violations. That measure passed the Senate Friday and would require another House vote to clear the Legislature. House legislation to limit access to footage from body and dashboard cameras under open records laws if the video depicts a nonpublic location is up for a final vote. Democrats want legislation to mandate that police wear body cameras, but that legislation hasn’t advanced.
Lawmakers are working to bring the laws on when police can use deadly force in line with a 1985 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The ruling held that police may not shoot at a fleeing person unless the officer reasonably believes that the individual poses a significant physical danger to the officer or others in the community. Missouri’s law does not specify that an officer must believe the fleeing suspect is dangerous. That bill requires another committee vote before it can head to the full House for debate.
Some lawmakers want to raise the state’s fuel tax by nearly 6 cents per gallon to pay for road and bridge projects. It passed the Senate in April, but faces challenges in the House and still needs committee approval before it could be debated by all members. If passed by the Legislature, it would also require voter approval.
A Senate proposal with House approval includes a number of provisions aimed at expanding gun access, including allowing for firearms on public transportation and concealed carry of guns by fulltime employees on college campuses. Because of those changes, the measure went back to the Senate for review. Another bill gathering steam is a proposal to allow the concealed carry of weapons without a permit, with exceptions. Other legislation includes expanding the state’s castle doctrine to also cover some house guests and broadening so-called “stand your ground” laws to strip a requirement that gun holders retreat in most places other than their home or car before shooting in self-defense.
Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill to require public employees in unions to annually reauthorize automatic payments for dues and fees. The House began the process of overriding that veto this week. Unions with public-sector employees would also have to make their financial records available to their workers. Supporters call the measure “paycheck protection” and say it will lead to more transparency and make it easier for unsatisfied members to leave unions. Opponents say it’s an effort to weaken unions. It needs a final vote of support from two-thirds of senators to become law.
Lawmakers this week sent a bill to require photo identification at the polls to Nixon, a Democrat who is likely to veto it. But because the Missouri Supreme Court has ruled against such measures in the past, lawmakers also are working to pass legislation that would ask voters to amend the state Constitution to allow such a law. The proposed constitutional amendment still needs another vote in the Senate and House before reaching the ballot. It would not need the governor’s approval.
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