Jobs to juries: Swan discusses bills passed by Missouri lawmakers

Kathy Swan

The Missouri Legislature passed 95 bills in the recently completed session, including measures dealing with jobs, juries and vehicle inspections.

State Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau, highlighted approved legislation at the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce’s First Friday Coffee at Isle Casino Cape Girardeau.

House and Senate lawmakers filed 1,960 pieces of legislation. In the end, lawmakers passed 17 budget bills, 29 House bills and 49 Senate bills, she told the room full of chamber members.

A measure restricting abortions drew much of the public attention last month, but lawmakers approved a budget and passed numerous other bills.

Economic development was a major priority of lawmakers in the 2019 session, she said.

Swan successfully sponsored Fast-Track workforce legislation, which was backed by Gov. Mike Parson.

Fast-Track is a needs-based scholarship program to pay tuition and fees at an approved trade school, community college or four-year college for students who are 25 or older. The goal is to provide adults with the skills needed for today’s jobs.

Swan said, “U.S. Census data shows that approximately 710,000 Missourians have some college, but no degree. And 2.6 million Missouri adults have no postsecondary education or training. Approximately 500,000 Missouri adults, ages 18 and older, even lack a high school credential.”

Lawmakers also voted to exempt vehicles that are 10 years old or less and have fewer than 150,000 miles from state vehicle safety inspections.

They passed several judicial reform measures, including one excusing anyone 75 or older from jury duty, Swan said.

Lawmakers approved a bill that seeks voter approval of a ballot measure next year establishing term limits for the statewide offices of lieutenant government, attorney general, secretary of state and auditor. Holders of those offices would be limited to two, four-year terms, the same as already exists for governor and state treasurer.

Legislators also passed a bill requiring schools to provide age-appropriate sexual harassment training to students in grades six and higher, Swan said.

Swan touted another measure she helped pass. It provides a dedicated stream of money from an existing tax to provide services for the elderly, including meals, transportation and in-home care.

“Currently, we are only able to provide services to about 10% of our eligible seniors. These extra funds can help seniors avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and placement in long-term care facilities, saving the state millions of dollars in Medicaid,” Swan said.

Lawmakers approved a $30.7 billion budget, which includes $10.2 billion in federal money, according to Swan.

Social services spending accounts for the largest share of the budget at 31%. Another 20% of the budget is earmarked for elementary and secondary education. Transportation spending accounts for 9.5% of the budget and mental health 8%, Swan said.

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Missouri budget at a glance

How each dollar will be spent *:

Social services: 0.31

Elementary and secondary education: 0.20

Transportation: 0.10

Mental health: 0.08

Health and senior services: 0.05

Higher education: 0.04

Employee benefits: 0.04

Corrections: 0.03

Public safety: 0.02

Natural resources: 0.02

Revenue department: 0.02

Capital improvements: 0.02

Economic development: 0.01

Labor department: 0.01

Conservation: 0.01

Other: 0.06

* Does not add up to 100 because of rounding

Source: State Rep. Kathy Swan