Missouri News

Missouri lawmakers pass some bills, see others stall

By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 16, 2019 5:50 pm

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- With Friday's legislative deadline looming, state Rep. Louis Riggs, R-Hannibal, felt pride in some accomplishments and frustration that other important legislation will die.

An abortion bill that was modified by the Missouri Senate was awaiting House concurrence on Thursday. Riggs supports limits on abortions. He was frustrated that Senate members eliminated language to protect any fetus with a heartbeat unless there were dangers for the mother or child.

"We need to afford as many protections to the unborn as we can. But the Senate chose to compromise and change what was a perfectly good bill," Riggs said.

The legislation includes exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. Doctors would face five to 15 years in prison for violating the eight-week cutoff. Women who receive abortions wouldn't be prosecuted.

Republican Senate handler Sen. Andrew Koenig described it on Thursday as "one of the strongest" abortion bills yet passed in the U.S.

If courts don't allow Missouri's proposed eight-week ban to take effect, it includes a ladder of less-restrictive time limits that would prohibit abortions at 14, 18 or 20 weeks or pregnancy. Roe v. Wade legalized abortion up until viability, which is usually at 22 to 24 weeks.

House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, said, "This is the type of legislation that is designed to withstand a challenge and to actually save lives in our state."

Odds of the abortion bill passing in the House were good, and Gov. Mike Parson has voiced support for an earlier version of the bill.

Other legislation, including the 21st Century Missouri Education Task Force that was sponsored by Riggs, was not expected to get a vote in the Senate after overwhelming support in the House.

Rep. Greg Sharpe, R-Ewing, said his biggest disappointment is that the state's transportation system doesn't have adequate funds.

"It looks like we'll do a bonding bill on bridges. I'm for that, but we're not providing any new revenue, and I think we're going to have take care of that next year or the year after," Sharpe said.

A bill to limit eminent domain for projects such as the Grain Belt Express also faced an uncertain future. Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Frankford, sponsored the bill that would limit a private company's ability to obtain land or easements through eminent domain court rulings.

Most of the support for House Bill 1062 was from agricultural districts and mainly among Republicans. Several lawmakers, from cities that had agreed to buy solar power from Clean Line Energy at below-market rates, opposed the bill.

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