2024 MPA Legislative Report: SENATE PRE-FILES MORE BILLS THAN HOUSE

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The following is a legislative update from Clarkston Nelson, LLC concerning the Missouri General Assembly’s upcoming legislative session. It is not for republication in your newspaper, although the information contained within could inspire local coverage for issues important to your readers.

A reminder, Missouri Press Association’s Day at the Capitol is Thursday, Jan. 25. You can register to attend here: https://mopress.wufoo.com/forms/mqk9r5s0v5fd4f/

SENATE PRE-FILES MORE BILLS THAN HOUSE

Pre-filing for the 2024 legislative session kicked off on December 1, with a total of 1,028 bills and joint resolutions being filed within the first week through December 7. This is a drastic increase compared to the mere 769 bills and joint resolutions filed within the first week last year and in another surprising turn of events, the Senate has also surpassed the House by pre-filing 559, compared to the House only filing 469 pieces of legislation as of December 7. Topics to be considered during the 2024 legislative session include everything from elimination of the personal property tax, property tax assessments, tax credit programs, sports wagering and video lottery terminals, foreign ownership of land, election and initiative petition reform, and a plethora of bills affecting local governments and elementary and secondary education.

As we near the holiday season, we expect the number of bills filed to slow down before the start of the 2024 legislative session. In the meantime, we will keep you updated on items of importance leading up to the start of the session on January 3.

GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES STATE OF STATE ADDRESS
Governor Mike Parson announced this week he will present his annual and his final State of the State address on January 24 at 3:00 p.m. The Governor also announced the annual state’s consensus revenue estimate for FY 2025, a figure established by state budget experts and used by the Governor and legislative leaders to build the next balanced Missouri budget. The estimates project a .7 percent decrease in revenue in the current fiscal year, and revenue growth of only .2 percent in FY 2025. Net general revenue collections in FY 2025 are expected to be $13.16 billion. The Governor’s proposed budget will be outlined in his State of the State address.

SEN. KARLA ESLINGER NAMED NEXT EDUCATION COMMISSIONER
The State Board of Education voted December 5 to appoint Sen. Karla Eslinger (R-Wasola) to serve as the next Commissioner of Education for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Current Commissioner Margie Vandeven announced in October that she would be retiring from the office on July 1, 2024. Sen. Eslinger will serve her final session in the legislature and will join DESE on June 1. She is a former school teacher, principal, and superintendent in southwest Missouri and served in the House of Representatives, 2018-2020, and was elected to the Senate in 2020.

TREVOR FOLEY TO LEAD MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
Governor Parson named Trevor Foley as the new Director of the Missouri Department of Corrections on December 4. Foley previously worked as a budget analyst for the Senate and has held various positions in the Department of Corrections, including Deputy Director.

IMPORTANT DATES:

  • 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
  • January 24, 2024 – Governor’s State of the State Address
  • March 18-22, 2024 – Legislative Spring Break
  • April 1, 2024 – No session, Easter Break
  • May 10, 2024 – Last day to constitutionally pass the FY 2025 Budget
  • 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.

BOARD OF HIGHER EDUCATION MEETING UPDATE
The Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE) convened for their last quarterly meeting of 2023 on Wednesday morning. The first item for discussion was the election of the new CBHE Officers. The newly elected officers are: Chair – Hollie Elliott; Vice Chair – Allen Brooks; and Secretary – Judge Clarke.

The Board then moved on to their 2024 legislative proposals. These proposals include:

  • CBHE plans to amend proprietary certification as the department is required to certify proprietary schools operating in Missouri and proposes to exempt US Department of Labor approved Registered Apprenticeships training programs from certification.
  • Revise statute to reflect recent the recent changes of moving the Office of Workforce Development to the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development (DHEWD) and moving the statutes regarding the Office of Workforce Development to Chapter 173
  • Removing statutes that have sunsets, programs that are no longer operable or funded and task forces that no longer exist
  • Adjusting the Bright Flight Financial Aid program by adjusting the eligibility score and increase the amount of the award (this item is on hold pending the budget process)
  • Increasing the award amount of the Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program (this item is on hold pending the budget process)

Next, the Board moved on to approval for higher institutions new programs. The Board approved the following programs:

  • Harris-Stowe State University – BA Psychology
  • Missouri S&T – MS Explosives Technology
  • Missouri State University – MS Nutrition and Dietetics
  • North Central Missouri College – AAS Business and Associate of Arts
  • Ozarks Technical Community College – AAS Behavioral Health
  • Southeast Missouri State University – BA Writing
  • University of Missouri – PhD Music Education

The Board also gave provisional approval to the following programs, which will be up for final approval in two years:

  • Harris-Stowe State University – BA History
  • Northwest Missouri State University – BS Physics
  • St. Charles Community College – AFA Creative Writing
  • University of Missouri, St. Louis – BS Actuarial Science

Next the Board received an update regarding fall enrollment at higher education institutions. The conclusion showed there was a modest increase in enrollment across all sectors. First-time, degree-seeing, undergraduate full-time enrollees increased for the public 4-year sector but decreased for the public 2-year sector. FAFSA filings also decreased, continuing a downward trend.

Finally, the Board received an update regarding the mandatory requirement that public higher education institutions update their mission statements every five years. The full findings of that effort will be released at the end of the month and the department will be working with the various institutions in 2024 implement these mission statements and to determine if new or revised admissions selectivity criteria and proposed guidelines will be needed. This will be discussed at a future CBHE meeting. The Board then adjourned the public portion of the meeting.

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