Top bills in flux as Missouri legislative session nears end - KMOV.com

Top bills in flux as Missouri legislative session nears end

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Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's Republican-led Legislature has a laundry list of priorities still on the table as the Friday deadline to pass bills approaches, including top agenda items for new GOP Gov. Eric Greitens.

Lawmakers have only days left in the 2017 session to take action to enable residents to use Missouri IDs to get onto airplanes and into most federal and military sites, and a long-sought program to create a prescription drug tracking database hasn't made it across the finish line.

Other bills still pending include priorities for Greitens, who wants to ban lobbyist gifts to elected officials and adopt an alert system to notify the public when people suspected of hurting police are on the run. He also supports a measure to make it easier for people to start hair braiding businesses in Missouri, which is awaiting debate in the Senate.

"I am still very hopeful that we will get the vast majority of this agenda passed," Greitens told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

But legislative leaders have raised doubts about whether top items will be resolved with so little time left, especially after senators passed a budget but did little else in the week leading up to the session's end.

"The Senate's unpredictable," said House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, a Kansas City Democrat. "We don't know what's going to happen next week."

Here's a breakdown of top pending legislation:

— Real ID: Lawmakers are divided on whether to give residents the option of getting an ID that complies with the federal 2005 Real ID Act. Missourians currently need a passport or other federal identification in order to visit most federal and military sites. Starting in January, residents no longer will be able to get on airplanes with Missouri IDs.

— Prescription drugs: Missouri lawmakers for years have tried and failed to adopt a database to track when doctors write prescriptions for addictive medicines and when pharmacists fill those scripts. The goal is to stop patients from shopping around to multiple doctors and pharmacists to stock up on painkillers and other prescription drugs, as well as to help treat patients with addictions. Critics cite privacy concerns about a database with prescription information.

— Abortion: Republican lawmakers want to undo a new St. Louis ordinance that prohibits discrimination in employment and rental housing based on "reproductive health decisions," an effort by the heavily Democratic city to pre-empt anti-abortion measures proposed in the Legislature. The ordinance at issue bans employers from firing, refusing to hire or disciplining women because they have an abortion, take contraception, use artificial insemination or become pregnant while unmarried.

— Employment discrimination: A contested measure to change the standard and make it more difficult for employees to sue for discrimination in the workplace is pending in the House. Richardson did not say whether it has enough support to pass that chamber but said Republican Majority Leader Mike Cierpiot wants a debate on the bill.

— Services for seniors and disabled people: The House and Senate are split on how to maintain in-home and nursing care services at their current level for seniors and people with disabilities. While the House recommended ending a tax credit for low-income seniors and disabled renters to pay to keep those services, senators on Thursday voted to instead take unused money from a variety of dedicated funds.

— Gift ban: Proposals to limit or ban lobbyist gifts to elected officials are stalled in the Senate. Both Greitens and Richardson have cited a ban on gifts as a top priority, but it has less support in the Senate. Richardson said he's concerned about the chances of a bill limiting lobbyist gifts passing by Friday, but is still optimistic that lawmakers will pass ethics legislation.

— Blue Alert: Greitens before taking office in January called for a Blue Alert system, similar to the Amber Alerts for missing children, to notify the public when police officers are injured and the suspect is on the run.

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