Lawmakers returned to the State Capitol on Jan. 8, and the 2020 legislative session is now underway. This year’s session will continue until May 15. Since this is the second year of a two-year General Assembly, there wasn’t much pomp and pageantry on the first day. Instead, there is a “let’s get to work” attitude in the halls of the Capitol. Everyone knows their committee assignments and most legislators came to Jefferson City with unfinished business from the previous session.

Like most of my colleagues, I begin the 2020 session with a “to-do” list. Last year, I sponsored several measures that did not make it all the way through the legislative process. I have reintroduced those bills and hope to see them pass this year. Among those proposals is the Missouri Rural Workforce Development Act. This legislation creates a tax credit to spur investments in rural areas. I also proposed raising the limits on Missouri’s linked deposit lending program, which uses state resources as seed money so local lenders can make loans to small businesses in rural areas.

One measure I’m again sponsoring this year actually made it through the process in 2019. The bill passed both the House and the Senate, but was vetoed by the governor due to an amendment added in the final days of the legislative session. My bill makes important changes to laws regarding death certificates and the disposition of human remains that will ease the burdens of surviving military families at Fort Leonard Wood, as well as all Missourians who suffer the loss of a loved one. My hope is that we can move the legislation through the process again, this time without any changes, and see the measure become law.

So far, I have sponsored 16 bills for consideration during the 2020 session. I will discuss these in more detail as the process continues. I am one of 34 members of the Senate and my proposals are just a few of the many pieces of legislation the upper legislative chamber will take up in the coming months. Many important issues will need to be addressed and there’s not enough time to get to them all. Last year, more than 500 bills were introduced in the Missouri Senate and another 1,250 in the House of Representatives. Just 91 bills passed both chambers and moved onto the governor. He vetoed six bills and 85 measures became law.

One of the most-discussed issues before the General Assembly this year is crime – specifically, the wave of violence in Missouri’s largest cities. Lawmakers will consider a wide range of proposals to address the problem, but those that focus on prevention and punishment are most likely to succeed. It is extremely unlikely that legislation restricting Missourians’ right to keep and bear arms will gain any traction. As the session moves forward, I will certainly oppose and will filibuster any attempts to restrict the Second Amendment rights of our citizens.

May 15 seems like just a short time away, but there’s much work to do before the 2020 legislative session concludes. I will keep you informed about the progress of the session in this column and on my Facebook page. I hope you will share your thoughts and concerns as the session moves forward.

It is my honor to serve as your senator for the 16th District. If you have questions or need any assistance, please call my office at 573-751-5713 or log onto my webpage at senate.mo.gov/brown for more information.