Legislative column

The 2019 legislative session is in full swing, with more than 400 bills and resolutions already submitted in the Senate alone. There’s well over 1,000 pieces of legislation moving through the House of Representatives. I expect there will be almost 3,000 separate measures introduced before this session ends in May. It’s a lot to take in.

This is my 14th year in the Missouri General Assembly. In that time, I’ve probably seen 40,000 bills. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s hard to look at a pile of bills at the beginning of the session and predict what will finally pass. Sometimes, really important bills don’t make it, while others that don’t seem so critical fly through the process.

The Legislature will take up many important issues this year. We’ll also deal with a number of things that affect only a few people or, perhaps, a certain industry or group. Every bill is important to somebody, though.

I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the more unusual measures that the Senate will consider this year. Some of these will make headlines. Others, you’ll probably never hear about. Here’s just a few that caught my attention.

Senate Bill 322 would raise the admission price to Missouri casinos by $1. The extra money would pay to move the Steamboat Arabia museum from Kansas City to the Missouri State Museum in Jefferson City.

Senate Bill 210 designates the pawpaw tree as the official fruit tree of Missouri.

An 18-year-old stock clerk would be allowed to haul cases of beer from the delivery truck into the store so long as the delivery driver, who’s at least 21, keeps an eye on him, thanks to Senate Bill 329.

You’ll be able to give a handout to homeless people with your smart phone if Senate Bill 152 reaches the governor’s desk. Signs placed near places where panhandlers congregate will tell people how to text a $1 donation to a fund that pays for services for the homeless.

You might get fewer annoying robo calls if Senate Bill 144 becomes law. That measure bans “spoofing.”

Senate Bill 186 allows platooning, which the bill describes as “a group of individual motor vehicles utilizing vehicle-to-vehicle communications to travel in a unified manner at electronically coordinated speeds.” Vehicles within the platoon will be able to tailgate with impunity.

Two measures, Senate Bill 59 and Senate Bill 171, establish “no excuse” absentee voting. You won’t need a reason to vote early.

If you’re over 75 years old, you won’t have to worry about jury duty if Senate Bill 297 passes. You’ll be excused.

You wouldn’t think we would need to pass a law to allow people to do good deeds, but Senate Bill 3 provides immunity for people who mow grass or remove trash and debris from abandoned property. If this bill passes, volunteers could paint over graffiti without worrying about being sued.

These are just a few of the hundreds of bills the Senate will look at in 2019. If you’d like to see all the bills before the Senate, they’re posted online at https://www.senate.mo.gov/legislation. You can read the full text of every bill and see how it’s moving along in the process.

Mike Cunningham is a Republican member of the Missouri State Senate, representing District 33. Contact him at 573-751-1882 or www.senate.mo.gov/cunningham

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