Budget, priority bills loom as lawmakers return from break

Missouri lawmakers have seven weeks to wrap up remaining business when they return from their spring break on Tuesday, and the state’s budget and a variety of other legislative priorities await them.

Passing the budget is the Legislature’s only required duty. It must be completed by May 6. The House already sent its version of the $26 billion spending plan the to Senate, and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said his committee will begin working Tuesday morning on the budget.

Ethics reform, transportation infrastructure funding and a so-called religious shield amendment are among the other measures that will compete for lawmakers’ time and attention between now and the legislative session’s end.

Despite a major push for ethics reform at the start of the session, some have voiced concern that no measure limiting campaign donations is likely to be passed this year.

Lawmakers continue to grapple with the challenge of finding funds for the state’s highways and bridges. They can raise the fuel tax a small amount without putting the issue to voters, but state law requires a statewide vote for any substantial tax increase.

The religious shield measure, which would offer legal protection to organizations or businesses that refuse to be part of a same-sex wedding or celebration on religious grounds, already received Senate approval. The proposed amendment, which has drawn opposition from a variety of business groups in the state, now awaits review from the House.

Read more: Jefferson City News Tribune

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