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MO legislature adjourns after passing new congressional map, controversial voting law

Published: May. 13, 2022 at 7:24 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY (KMOV) -- This legislative session in Missouri will be remembered for passing far fewer bills than in previous years and gridlocking until the final days over congressional redistricting.

The Missouri legislature ended its session when the House of Representatives adjourned shortly before 4 p.m. The Senate adjourned on Thursday.

Republican Rep. Dean Plocher of St. Louis County is the majority floor leader and will be the next speaker of the house.

“We started off with a lot of pessimism but we’re eternal optimists in this building and we keep working for the state. You know we had the budget passed and we had to pass the maps. Those are our two constitutional obligations, we did get that done,” he said.

On Thursday, Senate leaders used a rarely utilized procedure to bypass opposition to a redistricting bill by a conservative caucus and finally approved a new congressional district map after months of gridlock.

The legislature passed a record $49 billion budget thanks to an increase in state revenue and federal COVID relief funding.

“One of the big highlights has been the budget. I think a lot of my Democratic colleagues are excited about what we were able to do in the budget on the house and senate side,” said Democratic Rep. Rasheen Aldridge of St. Louis.

One of the more controversial bills that passed during the session is a voter integrity bill that requires voters to show a photo ID. It also has other restrictions but allows for no-excuse absentee voting in the two weeks prior to an election.

“I think that’s probably the worst bill that’s passed this year. It really does feel like an attack on voting rights and democracy,” said Democratic Rep. Peter Merideth of St. Louis County.

During the session, lawmakers passed measures to protect property owners from eminent domain, limits on visitor restrictions at hospitals and nursing homes during a pandemic and increased funding for charter schools so that they’ll receive funding equal to public schools.

“Every year in the legislature it’s like a box of chocolates you never know what you’re going to get. And this is another one of those years that’s like a box of chocolates,” said Republican Rep. John Wiemann of O’Fallon.

Bills that did not pass during the session include one that would have banned transgender students from competing as the gender that they now identify as, a bill that would have legalized sports betting and restrictions on the use of initiative petitions to amend the state constitution.