The expression, “It gets worse before it gets better” could not more accurately describe the events at the Capitol during the last week of session. The second to last day of legislative session, both the House and the Senate were completely shut down. Not one bill was debated the entire day. Instead, the House was dealing with a scandal and the Senate was at a standstill after the majority party used a rare motion to leave the minority party voiceless. It doesn’t get lower than this.
There has been a long-standing culture in Jefferson City that prioritizes special interest and unsettling behavior over improving the quality of life for Missourians. I’ve witnessed this in just the short few months I have been here. The shutdown is a direct effect of the way business is run in Jefferson City. It is my sincere hope that with Rep. Todd Richardson as the new Speaker of the House, the legislature can move forward and put the focus back on the people of Missouri. This should be a harrowing reminder of how important it is to vote, run for office in your local districts, and stay involved in the political process. The events that went down this week were because of the people WE sent to Jefferson City.
→That being said, we had moments of victory this year. There were eight anti-LGBT bills introduced this session, ranging from the policing of bathrooms, denying marriage equality, and legalizing discrimination against LGBT students on college campuses. All of these bills would have significantly burdened the lives of LGBT Missourians and proactively denied them equality. I am happy to report that PROMO and our friends in the building, like the ACLU of Missouri, were able to ensure none of those pieces of legislation made it across the finish line.
The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) continued to progress and received the broadest support yet from the legislature. Not only did we get a public hearing in both the House and the Senate, we passed the bill out of the Senate committee. After a lot of hard work and educating legislators about the importance of basic nondiscrimination protections, we even had the votes to pass it out of both House committees it was assigned to in order to make it to the floor. That is eight Republican legislators willing to make a stand for fairness. Unfortunately, the former Speaker used his power to ensure LGBT people would not see employment, housing and public accommodations protections this year. We are hopeful that the new Speaker will give the people of Missouri a fighting chance next year and not stand in the way of fairness.
This marks another end to the legislative session and another year LGBT people will have to face legal discrimination. PROMO will be here year after year, even after we pass MONA next year, to ensure that LGBT people and families are not deemed second class citizens by our lawmakers.