Uncertain future faces Senate transgender bills

By Camden Doherty, Missouri News Network
Posted 3/23/23

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Senate passed bills Thursday restricting both gender transition procedures and student participation in sports based on sex.

The bill was initially approved …

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Uncertain future faces Senate transgender bills


JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Senate passed bills Thursday restricting both gender transition procedures and student participation in sports based on sex.

The bill was initially approved in the early morning hours of Tuesday, ending a filibuster that preceded the spring break. The bills will now move to the House, where there are already parallel bills that have been through the committee process.

“I’m happy to see some transgender legislation … protecting women’s sports is essential,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres. “I find it appalling that minors can have irreversible things done to them when their lives can be significantly changed going forward.”

Most of the discussion in the days leading up to the passage revolved around SB49 proposed by Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove. The bill bans the use of puberty blockers and gender transition surgery.

“It’s been said that our party is going to have a black mark ... I believe that our party is protecting the most innocent,” Moon said.

Moon’s statements about the bill were echoed by his Republican colleagues in the Senate.

“It was about protecting children from some of the most harmful procedures and therapies that our society has developed today,” said Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, a strong supporter of the bill.

But Democrat Sen. Greg Razer of Kansas City countered that “most of my colleagues will agree that this is a sad day for the state.”

The Republican senators did not get everything they wanted from Moon’s bill. The ban on hormone therapies will expire in four years and the bill contains a grandfather clause, allowing those already on hormone therapies to continue. Those provisions were agreed to as part of a compromise to end the Democratic filibuster.

Both sides admitted reaching a compromise was preferable to forcing the Republicans to override a filibuster, which could provoke Democrats into using a variety of stalling tactics on other legislation, such as the annual state budget.

“I think cooler heads wanted to make sure the Senate still functioned,” said Senate Minority Leader Sen. John Rizzo, D-Independence.

The House does not have to honor the compromise clauses and could remove them from the bill and send it back to the Senate.

“When we get that bill … we’ll certainly vet that bill through our committee process,” Plocher said. “There are some things that I may like, may not like, but it’s not just me ... 163 members that will have their say.”

However, if the House removes either of the clauses, or adds other language, the bill returns to the Senate for its consideration.

“I do think if it comes back (with changes) it has a pretty hard chance of getting done,” said President Pro Tem Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia.

The possibility of changes by the House is believed to be an inevitability by many in the House and the Senate.

“This discussion is far from being over, and I do think that it will probably end up going back to the Senate,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield.

SB39, sponsored by Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder, R-Sikeston, regarding women’s sports is not expected to see any changes because none were required to get it through the Senate.

Sports betting

A House bill legalizing sports betting, sponsored by Rep. Dan Houx, R-Warrensburg, was given final approval by the House Thursday.

Houx said he had discussed sports betting and a separate video lottery terminal (VLT) legislation with Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, and plans to continue discussions as the House bill is considered in the Senate.

Both Republicans and Democrats believe HB556 could die in the Senate due to Hoskins and his push for regulation of VLTs. Last year Hoskins filibustered his own amendment to block a vote on sports gambling.

House Democrats spoke in support of sports betting.

“We’ve been talking with the Senate and we are hopeful that we can find a path, a clean path forward for sports betting,” said Rep. Ashley Aune, D-Kansas City.

“I do think that we’re likely to run into the exact same roadblocks that we always have,” Aune said.

But the Senate leader was pessimistic.

“I’d be more surprised than not if it (sports gambling) passes this year,” Rowden said.