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Missouri House and Senate pass 41 bills this week as 2018 session’s halftime approaches

Left to right: State Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, and House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Left to right: State Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, and House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff.

House and Senate leaders are working on getting some key priorities wrapped up before lawmakers leave in a week for legislative spring break.

This week, the House sent 20 bills to the Senate, while the upper chamber sent 21 to the House. But the lower chamber held off on sending one bill crucial to the Republican agenda. That measure would do away with Missouri’s prevailing wage, which mandates that non-union workers hired for public projects must be paid the same amount as union members.

The vote was postponed because several guaranteed “yes” votes were absent.

“We’re going to come back to that the early part of next week,” said House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff. “It’s a bill that the House has passed before, (and) there’s ongoing discussions about what that final product’s going to look like.”

Among the bills the House did pass were ones making it easier for companies to fight off asbestos lawsuits and allowing sheriffs to hire deputies that live in adjacent areas outside Missouri’s borders.

The Senate passed its version of the so-called “benevolent” tax credit renewal. It includes providing tax breaks to crisis pregnancy centers operated by religious groups opposed to abortion. The House passed a similar bill last month.

Senate members also unanimously passed a bill requiring most criminal offenders under the age of 18 to be tried as juveniles, instead of 17. It was sponsored by Republican Wayne Wallingford of Cape Girardeau.

“If they are serious crimes, they can still be certified as an adult – serious crimes like rape or sodomy or murder – they can still be referred to the adult system,” he said. “But a lot of the juveniles going into the (adult) system have actually (only) had minor crimes – petty theft, delinquency, drug abuse, things like that.”

And the Senate also gave initial approval, known as perfection, to a bill that would legalize industrial hemp in Missouri. Senate leaders plan to vote it over to the House next week.

The House Budget Committee is scheduled to amend and vote on next year’s state budget, including an amendment that could reverse the higher-education cuts being sought by Gov. Eric Greitens.

Follow Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.