After seven long months lawmakers will be back in Jefferson City and as the clock strikes noon Wednesday, the gavel will drop on the 2018 Missouri Legislative session.
The five local lawmakers representing Franklin County are eager to get back to work and have filed bills bridging a wide array of topics from a gas tax, drug testing to prevailing wage.
State Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, has already filed 25 total bills for the upcoming session, many of which relate to labor laws and workers’ rights.
Arguably, the bill which will garner the most attention and possible criticism is SB 734, which proposes raising the current Missouri gas tax from 17 cents per gallon, to 27 cents per gallon.
Schatz, who is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, filed the bill after spending the summer traveling the state with other lawmakers examining options for the state’s crumbling roadways.
If the bill is passed and signed into law, the increase in gas tax could generate $400 million per year.
State Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, has filed four bills thus far and says he’s been assured a rehashed ethics bill will be one of the first taken up and passed in the House this session.
The ethics reforms proposed by Alferman are designed to restrict individual gifts to legislators by lobbyists while still allowing larger groups to hold functions at the Capitol where lawmakers are invited and may receive gifts.
With bill filing allowed well into March, Alferman said he will most likely file a total of seven or eight this year.
Others already filed include a bill affecting the filling of county commissioner seats should they become vacant between election cycles.
He filed a bill allowing small produce farmers to purchase items with commodity which is a reworking of legislation that already allows grain producers who sell commodities to have their profits sent directly to other merchants to avoid paying certain taxes.
Another bill filed by Alferman would make it a Class E felony to tamper with a law enforcement officer. Similar legislation already exists making it a felony to tamper with any member of the judicial system and correctional officers.
A bill that will require trucks allowed to carry only one license plate to display it on the back of the truck was also filed.
State Rep. Nathan Tate, R-St. Clair, is entering his second legislative session with a bill that would make it illegal to cheat on a drug test.
Tate told The Missourian he wants items like synthetic urine and others used to mask the presence of drugs in someone’s system banned form stores in the state.
Currently, Missouri does not have any laws restricting the sales of synthetic urine and it does have uses other than cheating on drug tests.
It is packaged as an adult fetish novelty and also can be used to calibrate some drug-testing equipment. Because of the other described uses, only about 15 states have passed laws restricting its sale.
Tate has also filed a bill changing the laws regarding the Bi-state Metropolitan Development District compact by adding Franklin County.
With filing open until March, Tate said he is still researching other issues which may lead to bills including human trafficking, honoring law enforcement officers, cyber security, car insurance accountability and vehicle emissions testing.
State Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, enters his final year in the House of Representatives with focus on a run for state auditor.
The four-term representative hasn’t filed any bills thus far and will be conducting his first statewide campaign.
It is unknown how many opponents he will have, but if successful in the August primaries, Curtman will be facing incumbent Democratic Auditor Nicole Galloway.
As of his October campaign finance report, Curtman has $3,537 in the bank.
Galloway, the former treasurer of Boone County, has $665,380.
State Rep. Kirk Mathews, R-Pacific, enters his fourth legislative session with one bill filed thus far.
The bill would make it a felony to file false documents with the intent to defraud, deceive, harass, alarm, or negatively impact.
Over the summer, the second-term representative ran unsuccessfully for the internal leadership position of House majority floor leader.
He was defeated by neighboring Rep. Rob Vescovo, a Republican from Arnold, who represents part of Jefferson County.