Nearly 2,000 bills were proposed by lawmakers in the 2019 legislative session and less than 100 of those were passed by both the House and Senate.
But, just because a bill didn’t pass on its own doesn’t mean it was not tacked on to another bill as an amendment.
That was the case for two bills filed by State Rep. Nate Tate, R-St. Clair, who says this session was much different than the other two he has experienced.
“The general sentiment was different and it was a bit slower to get moving because of new leadership,” Tate said. “It was like a big rubber band was being pulled back and we kept waiting for the mad dash to begin.”
On one hand Tate said the feel of the session was better due to Gov. Mike Parson being in place and on the other hand there seemed to be new groups of legislators that emerged.
“It was easy to get behind the issues the governor was pushing,” Tate said. “We all know he’s served in the House and Senate, and he gets the process and understands how things work. Everybody knew he had things under control and we didn’t have the distractions we had last year.”
Despite Republicans holding the governor’s mansion and having super majorities in both houses, differing degrees on the conservative spectrum made the session a bit more contentious.
“There was a lot of politics involved,” Tate said. “And that wasn’t just between the Democrats and Republicans. There were many different sects on both sides of the aisle that weren’t on the same page on topics and issues.”
Two of the biggest bills to come out of the Legislature late in the session were the fetal heartbeat bill and the incentive package for General Motors (GM).
Tate was in favor of both, but had to tread lightly.
“I voted the way that I felt my district wanted me to and I haven’t lost any sleep about it,” Tate said.
He explained the GM vote was really a win for the state, but a no-win situation for lawmakers.
“If you voted for the package it was looked at as corporate greed,” Tate said. “If you voted against it, they would leave the state and lose jobs.”
The abortion bill was an easier vote for Tate, but he said he was concerned with the heightened protests from both sides of the issue at the Capitol that day of the vote.
“I’ve never been a part of anything like that before,” he said. “One side said the bill was too strict and the other said it wasn’t strict enough. We were all having some security concerns.”
Tate said he was disappointed that none of his sponsored bills made it through the legislative process on their own this session, but he also understands the ups and downs of the process.
“There are a millions ways to kill a bill,” he explained. “Even if a bill has absolutely no issues, it takes 27 steps to get it from start to finish.”
Both of Tate’s bills were attached to Senate Bill 147, which was turned into an omnibus bill with several amendments relating to motor vehicles. Tate explained the bill would make it easier for residents to renew a driver’s license or a motor vehicle license and would allow drivers to obtain a secure digital driver’s license in addition to the physical card-based license.
The Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) would design and implement a remote driver’s license renewal system that would be accessed through its website, or through self-service kiosks that would be available at one or more locations within the state.
The plan would be to roll out a handful of kiosks in select locations initially as a pilot project.
The bill also authorizes DOR to design a secure digital driver’s license program that allows applicants to obtain a digital version of their license in addition to the physical card-based driver’s license. Users would pay an additional fee to obtain the electronic version.
The second bill Tate was able to get passed as an amendment was House Bill 749.
The bill establishes a “Towing Task Force” for commercial motor vehicle tows.
This task force would make recommendations on overcharges, customer complaints, and the process for nonconsensual towing used by law enforcement.