September 19, 2018
Update on MO Special Session actions:
House Advances Drug Court and Education Bills to Senate in Special Session
(via Rep. Jerome Barnes)
The Missouri House of Representatives on Sept. 12 passed legislation to expand Missouri’s system of specialized treatment courts that promote recovery over punishment and also approved a separate bill that seeks to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics – or STEM – education. Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, called lawmakers back for a special legislative session on the two issues after he vetoed earlier versions of the bills due to constitutional flaws.
House Bill 2 builds on work pioneered by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who was instrumental in developing and implementing Missouri’s first drug court in 1993 while serving as Jackson County prosecuting attorney. HB 2 expands treatment courts to all Missouri counties and refines the standards for their operation. It passed on a near-unanimous vote of 141-1.
House Bill 3 to promote STEM education also passed overwhelmingly, 119-23, but sparked some opposition and lengthy debate due to a provision of the bill that would allow high school students to substitute one credit-hour of mathematics with a credit-hour of computer science, which at present can be taken as an elective. Critics warned dropping a mandatory credit-hour of math would leave more students unprepared for college, something the bill acknowledges by requiring parents of students who take the option to sign a consent form noting it “may have an adverse effect on college admissions decisions” since many universities require four credit-hours of math.
The bills now advance to the Senate, which was expected to pass both on Sept. 14. If all goes to plan, the special session will conclude with some procedural actions on Sept. 19.