Lawmakers in Jefferson City will begin the 100th General Assembly this week with a laundry list of legislation, including workforce development, tax reform and establishing the country’s last statewide prescription-drug-monitoring database. And almost a year removed from the extramarital affair scandal that hijacked the attention of legislators and resulted in the resignation of Gov. Eric Greitens, lawmakers enter the session with a new governor, Mike Parson, who served in the legislature before being elected lieutenant governor in 2016.
“We’re really excited about being able to work with Gov. Parson and his willingness to work with the legislature,” said Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby. “Being a former legislator himself, the governor understands the process and appreciates the efforts of the legislators.”
Without mentioning Greitens by name, Hegeman said Parson has been “very engaging” and signaled that the new governor has surrounded himself with a staff that knows the process.
“It will be welcome to be able to engage with the governor’s office as we go through the process and work out any difficulties ahead of time,” said Hegeman, a member of Senate leadership.
“If we can identify problems that he might have and then work on those during the session, I think that would be great,” he said. “To have that engagement is wonderful and will make this process more smooth.”
One of the biggest hurdles lawmakers will face is how to move forward with transportation and infrastructure spending following voters’ rejection of a hike to the state’s fuel tax. Parson has listed the topic as a top priority for his administration.
The Republican-controlled legislature also is likely to tackle legislation that has failed in the past but seems to have new legs in the new session: implementing a database that monitors controlled substances prescribed by medical professionals. The senator always blamed for holding up the passage of a database is no longer in the legislature. St. Joseph Republican Rob Schaaf, a physician who cited privacy concerns with proposed databases, was replaced in the Senate by fellow Republican Tony Luetkemeyer due to term limits. Coincidentally, Luetkemeyer’s first bill filed for the new session would establish the very thing his predecessor fought to block.
“I think there is support for it and the governor has already said it’s a priority and something long overdue,” Luetkemeyer said. “We’re the only state in the country that does not have an opioid-monitoring program.”
The new legislative session begins Wednesday, Jan. 9.