The 2021 Missouri legislative session is now over. Here’s a quick overview of major bills that made it through the political gauntlet and are now on their way to Governor Parson’s desk. This list is not exhaustive but we’re sharing some of the most impactful bills as compiled by the Democratic Legislative Network and Democratic lawmakers:
Passed Legislation That Will Help Missourians
RELIGIOUS BOARDING SCHOOLS (HB 557): Establishes state oversight and minimal health and safety standards for religious boarding schools, which currently are unregulated in Missouri.
POLICE REFORM (SB 53): Prohibits police from using chokeholds on suspects in most circumstances, requires law enforcement agencies to track and report use-of-force incidents, increases penalties for officers who have sexual contact with those in custody and grants prosecutors more authority to seek to overturn past wrongful convictions.
PRESCRIPTION DRUG MONITORING (SB 63): Creates a statewide database to monitor the prescription and dispensing of opioids.
WAYFAIR (SB 153): Makes it easier for local governments and the state to collect sales taxes for online purchases that already were due under statute but rarely paid.
FUEL TAX (SB 262): Gradually increases the state fuel tax from the current 17 cents per gallon to 29.5 cents a gallon in 2025 to generate new revenue for road and bridge projects.
ADOPTIVE AND FOSTER PARENTS (HB 429): Expands eligibility for a tax credit of up to $10,000 to offset adoption costs and grants foster parents a tax deduction for their costs of providing foster care. (Signed into law April 22.)
BENEVOLENT TAX CREDITS (HB 430): Expands eligibility for a tax credit of up to $10,000 to offset adoption costs and increases the amount of tax credits for contributions to domestic violence shelters and maternity homes. (Signed into law April 22.)
MENTAL HEALTH PARITY (HB 604 & HB 432): Prohibits health insurance plans from imposing certain restrictions on mental health treatment that aren’t imposed on treatments for physical ailments.
ORDERS OF PROTECTION (SB 71): Authorizes lifetime orders of protection in extreme cases of stalking and harassment, modernizes the definition of stalking and allows protection orders to cover abuse against pets.
Passed Legislation That Will Hurt Missourians
GUN NULLIFICATION (HB 85): Purports to declare many federal gun laws unenforceable in Missouri and authorizes federal gun offenders to extract $50,000 fines from local police departments whose officers assisted federal agents in their arrests.
POLICE OVERSIGHT (SB 26): Grants special rights to police officers who are under investigation that could make it harder to hold problem officers accountable for their actions and makes it more difficult for local governments reduce police funding, even if necessary due to declining revenue collections.
COVID LIABILITY PROTECTIONS (SB 51): Shields businesses, health care providers, nursing homes and religious institutions from lawsuits relating to COVID-19 exposure.
PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS (HB 349): Redirects state revenue for tax breaks to provide partial vouchers for K-12 students to attend private schools.
In a separate post, we will take a look at the good and bad legislation that didn’t make it across the finish line this year. Those pieces will be very important to keep in mind, because it’s very likely many of them will be revisited in the 2022 legislative session.
As Democrats, it’s important that we become knowledgeable about key legislative efforts in our state. If each person would pick a specific topic or issue to stay focused on, they could become the “resident experts” within each Democratic Central Committee or club. This would help everyone to stay better informed so people could activate quickly if needed to make phone calls, send emails, write Letters to the Editor, and so on.