Representative Ed Lewis's Capitol Report

April 06, 2022

Last Thursday night, we passed the house version of the 2023 budget out of Budget Committee. This budget will be debated on Tuesday by the entire House with 6 hours of total debate. After the budget is debated on Tuesday it will come to the floor to be Third Read and Finally Passed on Thursday and sent to the Senate.

House Rejects Senate Version of Proposed Congressional Map (HB 2117)

The members of the Missouri House have rejected a plan proposed by the Missouri Senate to draw Missouri’s new congressional districts. By a vote of 26-129, the House voted down the Senate map and then by a vote of 131-17 once again approved a motion to ask the Senate for further discussion on the bill.

The vote comes more than two months after the House approved its plan for the map and sent the bill to the Senate. The Senate took nine weeks to develop its own map, which it sent back to the House just days before candidate filing closed. On Tuesday, the House had the opportunity to vote on the Senate-proposed map, but members expressed concerns with the changes made by the other body.

The sponsor of HB 2117 noted that the version approved by the Senate was “very different than what we sent over.” He said, “I have a couple issues with the map that came over with the compact and contiguous part that is in the constitution that we must abide by.” He added, “When we went through the committee process we made sure we minimized the community splits and we took care of that. This map has a couple of those that I think need to be addressed and some other things I think would be best served for the House and for the citizens of Missouri to go to conference and try to get the best possible map for the state of Missouri.”

Instead of voting on the Senate’s plan, the House opted to ask the Senate for further conference on the bill. One member who supported the motion said, “This increases the number of county splits. The map that has been sent to us increases the number of voting district splits. The map sent to us does not respect communities of interest to the degree that our map did.”

The House approved the motion with the hope the Senate would grant a conference where the two chambers could iron out their differences. Rather than grant the House conference, the Senate refused the motion and requested the House to take up the Senate version of HB 2117 and pass it.

Before the House voted on the Senate version of HB 2117, the sponsor of the legislation told his colleagues that a vote to reject the proposal would not lead to the map being drawn by the court. He said, “By no means if we do not adopt this does it go directly to court. This is not a vote to go to court. This is a vote to continue the process, to continue the discussion for the best possible map for the state of Missouri, not the best possible map they could vote out, but the best possible map for all of Missouri.”

House leadership issued a statement about the decision to reject the Senate map and seek further conference. They said, “Today’s vote was a vote to continue the process and to continue the discussion so we can reach a compromise that will provide the best possible map for the state of Missouri.”

While the House and Senate disagree on the details of the map, both versions give six likely seats to Republicans and two likely seats to Democrats. The House will now await the decision from the Senate to see if discussions will continue so the two chambers can reach a compromise.

The original map approved by the House can be viewed at the following link:

The modified map approved by the Senate can be viewed at the following link:

House Members Approve Legislation to Protect Life (HB 2012)

House members once again took action to protect the lives of the innocent unborn. The House gave initial approval this week to a measure that contains several provisions to protect the sanctity and dignity of life.

HB 2012 would make it a felony offense to use or donate fetal tissue from an abortion for any purpose other than to diagnose anomalies, determine paternity, or for law enforcement purposes. The bill also makes it a felony offense to hoard aborted human remains.

The bill’s sponsor told her colleagues, “This is about what Missourians want us to be about – protecting the integrity and value of life, and making sure that those with evil intentions don’t prevail.”

An amendment added to the bill during floor discussion would enact the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which mandates that a child born alive during or after an abortion or attempted abortion will have the same rights, privileges, and immunities as any other person, citizen, and resident of Missouri, including any other live-born child.

The original sponsor of the act said, “What this language says is that any child who is born alive during or after an attempted abortion, that child shall have all the same rights and privileges as any other child that is born at that same stage of development, and that they should be provided care from medical staff.”

Another amendment added to the bill aims to protect the lives of the unborn by making it a felony offense to traffic abortion-inducing drugs. The measure would make it a class B felony if a person or entity knowingly imports, exports, distributes, delivers, manufactures, produces, prescribes, administers, or dispenses, or attempts to do so, any medicine, drug, or other means or substance to be used to induce an abortion on another person in violation of state or federal law. The provision makes it clear the woman using the drug cannot be prosecuted for trafficking.

The sponsor of the amendment said it “very clearly protects the woman and it protects the infant in the womb and that’s the primary purpose of this amendment.”

Other provisions added to the bill would ensure taxpayer funds do not go to abortion providers or their affiliates and clarify that federal laws cannot affect the decisions made by the state to prevent funds from going to abortion providers. The bill also contains language to ensure victims of domestic or sexual assault cannot be sued by their perpetrators, or the perpetrator’s family members, for violating provisions of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.

The actions of the House build on measures approved in years past that were designed to reduce the number of abortions in the state. Figures released by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services show that 151 abortions occurred in Missouri in 2021. That number is down significantly from 2019 when 1,471 abortions took place in the state. As recently as 2010, the state saw more than 6,000 abortions take place within its borders.

The bill now requires another positive vote in the House before moving to the Senate.

Bills Passed by the House and Sent to the Senate

HB 2005 specifies that any electrical corporation that proposes building a transmission line must provide a minimum 50% of its electrical load to Missouri consumers to be considered a public service and to be allowed to condemn property to construct the transmission. The provisions of the bill do not apply to electrical corporations operating under a cooperative business plan. The bill also specifies that in condemnation proceedings, just compensation for agricultural or horticultural land shall be 150% of fair market value, which will be determined by the court. The sponsor said the bill is a response to the land owners who are pleading with the legislature for help. He said the bill, “ensures utility projects in Missouri actually benefit the state of Missouri. It provides just compensation for land owners when their land is being taken from them and it’s being condemned. It also incentivizes negotiations outside the court process.”

HB 1750 specifies that school districts and charter schools must adopt a community engagement policy based on community input that provides residents a method of communicating with the governing board of the school district or charter school. The policy creates a process for items related to educational matters to be added to the board agenda. Supporters say school boards are too often unresponsive to the concerns of parents and that having an opportunity to directly communicate concerns and have action taken on those concerns is vitally important. This bill is designed to give people the opportunity to express concerns and that there should also be an initiative petition process to change policy not just have it added to an agenda. The bill includes additional provisions related to gifted children, substitute teacher certification (HB2304), child abuse investigations, and the Extended Learning Opportunities Act.