JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After a year full of infighting, political posturing and fierce debates about the significance of decorum, the 2022 Missouri legislative session has come to an end. Here’s a look into the most celebrated measures to hit the governor’s desk this year.
Perhaps the two highest priorities for this year’s session were passing the state’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year and new congressional districts aligned with the most recent census – both mandated by the Missouri Constitution.
The budget, totaling over $49 billion and spearheaded by House Budget Chair Cody Smith, was passed a week before the May 13 deadline as the largest budget in Missouri history – up from $40.9 billion this past fiscal year.
The new congressional map, however, was a much closer call, getting passed just one day before the courts would have had to step in and decide the new districts.
But after several intense Senate debates of whether or not to pass a more-conservative leaning map, the legislature passed new districts that are expected to keep the same political makeup of the current delegation – six Republicans and two Democrats.
While the new maps are expected to continue the current political landscape among the delegation, that doesn’t mean nothing was affected. A deeper look into the new maps shows a more conservative presence than before in Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District – likely shoring up a district that has fallen Republican by less than seven points in each of the last two elections.
The new maps also pushed State Rep. Sara Walsh out of the 4th Congressional District, causing her to withdraw from her campaign to replace U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler.
Aside from the constitutionally mandated tasks, the legislature passed a vast election integrity bill that many Missourians and elected officials alike have prioritized since the 2020 election.
House Bill 1878, sponsored by State Rep. John Simmons, R-Washington, would require a photo ID to vote, ban ballot drop boxes, allow the secretary of state to audit voter registration records of any election authority and includes a provision to further secure electronic ballot tabulation, among other measures. It is currently waiting to be signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson.
“After the chaos and uncertainty of the 2020 election, it was imperative that we tighten election laws in Missouri to further secure our elections,” State Sen. Eric Burlison said in a press release. “I filed a similar bill this session, so I am thrilled my fellow legislators share my concerns when it comes to preserving the integrity of our elections. We need to regain the trust of Missourians that every election is fair and free, and I believe this bill accomplishes that goal.”
Another policy passed just before the end of session was State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer’s Senate Bill 678. Passed on the last day possible, the bill would increase the required percentage of Kansas City’s general revenue that goes towards the Kansas City Police Department.
Prior to the bill’s passage, Kansas City was required to provide 20% of its general revenue to the police department. But after an illegal attempt in 2021 by KC Mayor Quinton Lucas and the City Council to rip more than $42 million away from the department, securing more funding for KCPD became a priority for area legislators such as Luetkemeyer.
The bill would raise the funding requirement to 25% of the city’s general revenue and is currently waiting on the governor’s signature.
“Today, my legislation to prevent future, radical attempts by Kansas City to defund @kcpolice goes to the ballot and @GovParsonMo’s desk,” Luetkemeyer tweeted after the bill’s passing on Friday. “I’m proud we sent a clear message–in Missouri, we defend our police, we don’t defund them.”
Another highly celebrated piece of legislation that got across the finish line this year was State Rep. Mike Haffner’s eminent domain bill. House Bill 2005 awards farmers more for eminent domain claims and increases the required compensation for agricultural or horticultural land.
Instead of the current 125% of market value given to land and property owners for eminent domain seizures, the rate would be raised to 150% of fair market value and must be determined by a court. The bill now heads to Gov. Parson, a third-generation farmer who owns a cow and calf operation near Bolivar.
“The bottom line is eminent domain was always intended to be used as a last resort for critical needs and infrastructure of the state,” Executive Vice President of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association Mike Deering told The Center Square. “It was not intended to be used as a way for private companies to take private land for private gain with little to no benefit to the citizens of the state.”
“We embrace economic development; we embrace it as a state, especially when it comes to improving our electric grid,” Haffner said to a room full of reporters after the bill’s passing. “But we will not do it on the backs of Missouri farmers, ranchers and the Missouri agricultural industry.”