Jun 8, 2017 – Weekly Capitol Update

GOVERNOR CALLS ANOTHER SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Gov. Eric Greitens on June 7 called a special legislative session asking lawmakers to nullify a St. Louis City ordinance prohibiting employment and housing discrimination against women who are pregnant, use contraception or have had an abortion. Greitens, a Republican, also asked lawmakers to impose various new restrictions on facilities that perform abortions.

The special session is slated to begin June 12 and will be the second Greitens has called since the regular session ended May 12. During the first, which formally wrapped up June 5, the legislature passed a bill authorizing special electric rates for certain industrial facilities that locate in Missouri.

The targeted St. Louis ordinance, which the Board of Aldermen enacted in February, expands the city’s anti-discrimination law to prohibit employers from firing or refusing to hire women because they are pregnant, use contraception or have had an abortion. It also bars such discrimination in housing, including the refusal to rent or sell property to women based on those reproductive decisions. The ordinance includes an exemption for religious organizations.

The governor’s special session call also asks the legislature to impose several new restrictions on the operation of abortion clinics, many of which would appear to violate a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Texas laws that set special requirements for abortion clinics that didn’t apply to other medical facilities, including those that perform procedures considered more dangerous than abortion.

 

RACIAL DISPARITIES IN POLICE STOPS INCREASED IN 2017

Racial disparities in police stops in Missouri worsened in 2016, with black drivers being 75 percent more likely to be pulled over than white drivers, according to the latest annual report issued June 1 by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. In 2015, black drivers were 69 percent more likely than white drivers to be stopped by police based on their respective proportions to Missouri’s driving age population.

The 2016 disparity rate tied the all-time high set in 2014, when black drivers also were 75 percent more likely to be pulled over than white drivers. A state law enacted in 2000 requires Missouri law enforcement agencies to compile racial data from traffic stops and annually report it to the attorney general.

Continuing trends from previous reports, black and Hispanic drivers where far more likely than white drivers to be subjected to police searches. However, white drivers who were searched were more likely to be found with contraband.

 

UM SYSTEM CUTS 474 JOBS TO ADDRESS REVENUE LOSSES

University of Missouri System President Mun Choi on June 2 announced that 474 jobs will be eliminated across the four UM campuses, with the bulk of the job cuts coming at the flagship Columbia campus. The workforce reduction is part of the system’s plan to save $101 million to make up for state budget cuts and declining enrollment.

The cuts include $8.5 million from the system administration, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune. Among them were elimination of the system’s in-house state and federal lobbyists, along with the system’s top spokesman and most of his staff. Several top administrators, including two vice presidents, also lost their jobs.

 

FY 2017 REVENUE COLLECTIONS UP 2.6 PERCENT FOR YEAR

Through the first 11 months of the 2017 fiscal year, net state general revenue collections increased 2.6 percent compared to FY 2016, going from $8.14 billion last year to $8.35 billion this year. Net general revenue collections for May 2017 decreased by 2 percent compared to those for May 2016, going from $727.7 million last year to $713.4 million this year.

Growth in year-to-date general revenue collections had been running at 3.1 percent through April. To cover all of the FY 2017 spending authorized by the Republican-controlled General Assembly, net general revenue collections would need to increase by 7 percent for the year. To put the budget in balance, however, current Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, and his predecessor, Democrat Jay Nixon, implemented a combined $350 million in midyear general revenue spending restrictions.