On Friday, December 1st, the Missouri General Assembly will begin pre-filing legislation for the upcoming 2024 legislative session that begins at noon on January 3rd.
Politics: Republicans maintain super majorities in both the State House and State Senate. Due to term limits, Governor Mike Parson (R), Speaker of the House Dean Plocher (R), and Senate President Caleb Rowden (R) will all vacate their positions at the end of the year.
2024 is an election year and it is expected that the politics of the election and candidates will spill into the policy discussions and decisions of the upcoming legislation session that begins in January.
The Missouri House of Representatives has a Republican majority of 111-52, and this will be the final session for Speaker Dean Plocher (R-Town & Country). The House Majority Floor Leader, Rep. Jon Patterson (R-Lee’s Summit), was selected by the Republican House Caucus in September to be designated as the House Speaker-Elect and will assume the Speakership in January of 2025. Patterson is a surgeon in the Kansas City area and has a pro-business and pro-economic growth platform.
The Missouri Senate will have a Republican majority of 24-10, and 2024 will be the final session for Senate President Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia). Senate Majority Floor Leader, Cindy O’Laughlin (R-Shelbina), will begin her second year in this position and will face a difficult task of finding consensus among the factionalized Missouri Senate. The Senate Republican Caucus has become severely divided after the last election as a smaller group of Republican Senators have divided into another subset of the caucus that focus on a more “socially conservative” platform and have been referred to as the “Conservative Caucus.” The Senate Conservative Caucus is not an official Caucus, but at times a group of Senators can become aligned and delay or stall the progress on legislation or on the daily business as they seek to gain leverage to move their legislation forward. Unlike the Senate Republican Caucus, the Senate Democrat Caucus generally is well aligned and formidable in their ability to delay or stall controversial topics using the Senate “filibuster.”
The Missouri Senate rules allow for any Senator to delay any motion by gaining the floor and speaking at length. Once recognized for speaking, the Senate parliamentarian cannot retake the floor. A filibuster can only be broken using a parliamentary procedure referred to as “the previous question” or “PQ.” A previous question motion has been sparingly used over the years and is generally frowned upon by the Senate membership as it diminishes the individual rights and privilege of the membership.
General Issues: We expect the continuation of debate from last session on several hot button social issues such as “critical race theory,” “parents’ bill of rights,” “diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI),” “environmental and social governance (ESG),” and limitations on content in public libraries. Several business priority issues also remain undone and should garner debate in 2024 such as sports betting, subsidies for childcare, and reforms to the state initiative petition process.
Also, we expect legislation and debate on other issues such as:
- Federal Funds distribution (Infrastructure, broadband, and higher education)
- Public Education (Charter Schools, District Transfer, and School Student Assessments)
- Taxation (Personal property tax assessments and corporate income tax repeal)
- Criminal Justice Reform (legislation on expungement and employment barriers)
- Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land and Tax Credits
- Healthcare (Pharmacy Benefit Managers, Rx drug pricing, reducing regulatory barriers for varying medical professionals)
- Utility Legislation (Public Right of Way, PSC reforms, Utility Financing, Right of First Refusal).
FRA Extension: The single biggest issues for the 2024 session will be the passage of an extension of the state’s federal reimbursement allowance tax, often referred to as the “FRA”. The state fiscal year budget begins on July 1st and without legislative action to renew the FRA tax sunset, the state will be unable to draw down the necessary federal funding to cover the costs associated with the state Medicaid program. The FRA was enacted in 1992 as a provider tax on hospitals and other healthcare facilities. The taxes collected by the providers are then used to fund the match of federal dollars.
On its face, the FRA tax extension has not been a controversial topic, however, this changed during the 2021 legislative session when language was added by the Senate during the regular session that inserted restrictions on the use of any state Medicaid funds for abortion related services. The General Assembly could not find common ground on the FRA as amended due to concerns that the new abortion related language would potentially force the state out of compliance with federal regulations and directives. Governor Parson ultimately called the legislature back into a Special Session in the summer of 2021 to pass a “clean version” of the FRA extension and was successful. It is unknow if the FRA sunset renewal will draw similar debate again in 2024, but if so, it is expected this will become highly controversial and potentially create difficulty in the state budgeting process.
Expected Issues of Interest to the HBA for 2024:
- Unemployment benefit indexing to state employment rate
- State Energy Code and local preemption
- State Licensure Issues such as roofing and remodeling contractors
- Missouri One-Call (underground utility construction) statute update
- Job training programs for community college students
- General Contractor liability for independent contractors
- December 1, 2023 – First day to pre-file legislation for 2024 session
- January 3, 2024 – First day of the 2024 legislative session
- January 15, 2024 – No session, observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- March 18-22, 2024 – Legislative Spring Break
- April 1, 2024 – No session, Easter Break
- May 17, 2024 – Last day of the 2023 legislative session
- July 14, 2024 – Last day for Governor to veto or approve legislation
- August 28, 2024 – Effective date of laws passed in 2024 legislative session
- September 11, 2024 – Legislative Veto Session.