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Legislative Update - Jan. 8, 2021

At noon on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the 101st General Assembly convened for its First Regular Session. Representative Rob Vescovo (R – Arnold) and Senator Dave Schatz (R – Sullivan) were formally elected Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore of the Senate, respectively. Both chambers put temporary rules in place, pending the adoption of permanent rules, including changes to the number and jurisdiction of legislative committees.  

The leadership of three committees has already been announced: 

Children and Families: 

Chair: Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R – Arnold)  

Vice Chair: Rep. Dottie Bailey (R – Eureka) 

Ranking Minority Member: Rep. Keri Ingle (D – Lee’s Summit) 


Consent and House Procedures

Chair: Rep. Sara Walsh (R – Ashland)  

Vice Chair: Rep. Craig Fishel (R – Springfield)   

Ranking Minority Member: Rep. Tracy McCreery (D – St. Louis) 



Chair: Rep. Travis Fitzwater (R – Holts Summit)  

Ranking Minority Member: Rep. Mark Ellebracht (D – Liberty) 

In addition to its current committees, the House will have four new standing committees: 

  • Emerging Issues, dealing with general or miscellaneous issues determined by the Speaker. 
  • Legislative Review, determining whether bills are technically correct and if proposed amendments or substitutes are appropriate. 

  • Public Safety, dealing with law enforcement and public safety matters. 

  • Rural Community Development, dealing with rural community development matters.  

President Pro Tempore Schatz made the following initial appointments:  


Chair: Sen. Dave Schatz (R – Sullivan) 

Vice Chair: Sen. Caleb Rowden (R – Columbia) 


Gubernatorial Appointments:  

Chair: Sen. Dave Schatz (R – Sullivan) 

Vice Chair: Sen. Caleb Rowden (R – Columbia) 


Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics:  

Chair: Sen. Caleb Rowden (R – Columbia) 

Vice Chair: Sen. David Schatz (R – Sullivan)  

The remainder of the committee assignments in both chambers will be announced next week. 



The bills of interest summarized below are just a few of those already introduced this year, many of which have the potential to impact the administration of justice, the integrity of the judiciary, improvement of the law, or the dignity of the profession of law. To see more bills of interest, organized by subject or practice area, visit The Missouri Bar’s Legislative Engagement Center

HB 385 – Rep. Bruce DeGroot (R – Chesterfield) 

The bill seeks to amend § 484.040, RSMo, to provide that admission and licensure to practice law cannot be contingent on membership in or paying dues to any private organization. The Supreme Court of Missouri is vested with the inherent authority to regulate the practice of law, including admission, licensure, and discipline. The provisions of chapter 484 are supplemental to this inherent authority.   


SJR 1 – Sen. Dan Hegeman (R – Cosby)  

This proposed constitutional amendment would amend § 25(a) of Article V of the Missouri Constitution, relating to judicial selection for the Supreme Court of Missouri, the Court of Appeals, and trial judges in certain circuits. Currently, nonpartisan judicial nominating commissions submit panels of three nominees to the governor. If this proposed amendment were approved by voters, when judicial vacancies occurred, a nominating commission would submit to the governor a list of the names of all qualified nominees (but not fewer than three nominees), without an upper limit on the number of nominees. 


SB 52 – Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R- Parkville) 

This legislation would amend Supreme Court Rule 56.01, relating to discovery, in part, with respect to the following: 

  • Parties may discover any relevant matter, not privileged, when proportional to the case’s needs, and the information need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable; 

  • Requires court to limit frequency or extent of discovery, on the motion of any party or on its own; 

  • Permits a party not to provide electronically stored information if it is not reasonably accessible because of an undue burden or cost; 

  • Provides that a receiving party return or destroy information produced is subject to a claim of privilege or protection as trial preparation material, requires an attorney receiving privileged information not to read it, to return it, and to make the information inaccessible to others; 

  • Allows parties to stipulate to court’s ability to motion regarding discovery sequence and timing; 

  • Set limits on interrogatories and depositions;  

  • Delineates what is allowable regarding the production of documents and entry onto land; and 

  • Places limits on requests for admissions. 


SB 88 – Sen. Paul Wieland (R – Imperial) 

Modifies Missouri Supreme Court Rules relating to discovery in criminal cases as apply to the following:  

  • Rule 25.02 (Time for Discovery) 

  • Rule 25.03 (Disclosure by State to Defendant without Court Order) 

  • Rule 25.04 (Disclosure by State to Defendant by Court Order Requiring Showing Good Cause) 

  • Rule 25.05 (Disclosure by Defendant to State without Court Order) 

  • Rule 25.08 (Continuing Duty to Disclose) 

  • Rule 25.10 (Matters Not Subject to Disclosure 

  • Rule 25.12 (Depositions) 

  • Rule 25.14 (Depositions to Preserve Testimony) 

  • Rule 25.15 (Discovery Depositions by State) 

  • Rule 25.18 (Sanctions) 

  • Rule 25.19 (Investigations Not to Be Impeded) 


A number of issues are on tap for the upcoming legislative session: the state budget, funding for roads and bridges, education, and local control. However, passing the state budget will be the only thing the legislature is constitutionally required to do. Wide revenue swings and an expected $400 million decline in general revenue for the coming fiscal year will likely keep fiscal concerns at the session’s forefront.  

Lawmakers also will have to address Medicaid expansion (adopted by the voters in August), which opens Medicaid eligibility to individuals and families with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level.  

House Speaker Pro Tempore John Wiemann has stated that the debate among Republicans is whether to cut costs through Medicaid reform and fund expansion or to refuse to fund expansion entirely. Senate Minority Floor Leader John Rizzo has stated that Republicans cannot reject what the voters approved and have no choice but to implement expansion.  

“COVID liability” legislation – to shield business from lawsuits stemming from the pandemic – will likely be near the top of the legislative agenda. 

Legislative leaders in both chambers have highlighted changes in education law as a priority. In his address on Wednesday, Speaker Vescovo specifically mentioned Education Savings Accounts, career advancement opportunities for teachers, investments in early childhood education, and a focus on “empowerment rather than imprisonment.”  He highlighted the need for kids to be in school, that is, in the classroom building. Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden has indicated that education reform is also his top priority. 

In his first-day address, President Pro Tempore Dave Schatz stated that Missourians are counting on the legislature to confront the issues facing schools, public safety, infrastructure, and the state’s economy. He introduced Senate Bill 262 to help fund road and bridge repair, his long-time priority. His proposal would put a measure on the ballot to increase Missouri’s 17-cent-per-gallon gasoline by 2 cents per year for five years, until it reaches 27 cents.  In 2018, voters rejected a proposed gas-tax hike, one of the reasons that Speaker Vescovo has said any gas tax hike would be greeted skeptically in the House. 

More than two years after Missouri voters authorized medical marijuana, Representative Shamed Dogan (R – Ballwin) has proposed placing the question of legalizing recreational marijuana on the ballot — without caps on licenses. He believes that caps favor certain people in the market over others who want to get into it. 


While access to the Capitol is not limited, both chambers will live stream committee hearings (high-definition video in the House, audio in the Senate) to cut down the number of people in attendance.