Legislative Column by Senator Karla Eslinger for May 16, 2022 – Missouri Senate

The end of session

The second regular session of the 101st General Assembly is over. The Senate ended legislative activity Thursday night with the approval of a new congressional redistricting map. In total, we have passed over 60 separate pieces of legislation, including 19 supply bills. In the weeks to come, I hope to go into more detail about the good legislation we were able to secure in the Governor’s office, but I wanted to share a few highlights with you in this report. Ultimately, this session was a win for all of Missouri.

One of the biggest highlights for me was the passage of Senate Bill 681. The seeds for this comprehensive set of education laws were sown over an after-hours dinner between senators. As the 11 women who currently serve in the Missouri Senate began visiting each other around the dinner table, the topic turned to a project we could work on together. This led to “You Can, Too!” a book recalling the history of women serving in the Senate and SB 681, which originally focused on teaching reading programs in Missouri schools. This legislation will help teachers be better equipped to ensure that our children receive the best possible literacy. As the bill progressed through the Legislative Assembly, other provisions were added, including several that I was proud to sponsor.

My Senate Bill 1160, which became an amendment to SB 681, establishes the Imagination Library of Missouri program. Inspired by a program originally sponsored by country music legend Dolly Parton, the program will help put a book in the hands of every child every month, free of charge, from the time they are born until until he reaches the age of five. A measure that I introduced as Senate Bill 977 was also added to the omnibus education bill. This legislation will give school districts the ability to divide into sub-districts, to allow board members to represent specific areas and not just the entire district. This will allow for more direct representation within our school boards, with board members connected to the community they represent.

Another major achievement for 2022 was the passage of legislation to increase the integrity of elections. House Bill 1878 is a monumental bill that will help ensure the security of our elections. This legislation establishes a common sense photo ID requirement, protects our election officials from outside influences, and includes necessary cybersecurity protections. While I am confident that the Missouri election was conducted safely, we must always remain vigilant.

House Bill 2149 was a set of laws relating to professional registration. I sit on the Senate Committee on Professional Registration and have been asked to lead this bill in the upper house. A good governance bill, HB 2149, helps cut unnecessary red tape while providing essential services to our state. The bill expands home health services, promotes dental pilot projects in underserved communities, and brings Missouri into the Interstate Compact for Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology to help provide health care in our most underserved areas. Another good governance bill I introduced in the Senate was House Bill 1606, a measure to help our local counties and elected municipal officials. These officials are often the backbone of our communities, doing everything from keeping county books to helping fill potholes. This bill will help them serve their communities.

The Legislative Assembly has completed its work for the year, but my work does not end when the last hammer falls. I continue to be your senator while the General Assembly is not in session, and I am available to assist you with all matters related to state government. I plan to be in the communities I serve over the next few months, and look forward to hearing from you directly. Due to state legislative redistricting, the boundaries of the 33rd Senate District will change in 2023. Soon, I will be serving residents of Shannon, Stone, and Taney counties, as well as residents of Douglas, Howell, Ozark, and Texas counties. Oregon, Ripley, Webster and Wright counties will become neighboring Senate districts at the end of the year. I look forward to meeting my new constituents as these changes take place. Our office will continue to serve our current constituents for the remainder of the year. If you think we could fix a problem, please contact us on our website so we can get back to you and hopefully get you the help you need.

It is an honor for me to serve the residents of Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Ripley, Texas, Webster and Wright counties in the Missouri Senate, and it is always a pleasure to hear from friends and family at home. If I can help you in any way, please call my Capitol office at 573-751-1882 or my district office at 417-596-9011. You can also visit my web page at www.senate.mo.gov/mem33, on Facebook: @SenatorKarlaEslinger, or follow me on Twitter: @seneslingermo.

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