Parson calls special legislative session to address STEM education, treatment courts

Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday he will call a special session of the Missouri General Assembly from Sept. 10-14 to address STEM education and access to treatment courts.

Parson, who took office in June after the resignation of former Gov. Eric Greitens, vetoed bills related to both issues earlier this year. The special session will allow lawmakers to pass legislation more narrowly focused on the two issues, Parson said in a press release.

It will run concurrently with the veto session already scheduled for Sept. 12.

In July, Parson spiked a bill supported by local technology groups and large tech companies that would have allowed students to take computer science class in place of math or practical arts courses, rather than as an elective.

The governor said he wants lawmakers to pass legislation establishing “an online program to educate students about STEM careers.” Passing such legislation during a special session would allow the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to implement it for the next school year, according to the release.

Dan Mehan, president of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, voiced support for renewing the STEM bill.

“Passing this legislation is an important first step toward improving computer science education in our state and giving students essential skills needed in today’s economy,” Mehan said in the release.

Parson also previously rejected a bill dealing with treatment courts and a range of other issues. He said a new bill would focus “solely on reforms to treatment courts.”

Although the bills on both issues passed earlier with enough votes to override the governor’s veto, Parson and lawmakers have expressed a desire to reach agreement on the issues.

“When I addressed the General Assembly nearly three months ago, I pledged that I would change the tone and work with the legislature,” Parson said in the release. “This call is a step in delivering that promise. These two issues were a part of the General Assembly’s historic session as they passed a number of their priorities. By working together to come up with a more narrowly defined focus, we will have better served the people of Missouri.”

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