‘House and close’ call during budget process

By State Sen. Ben Brown, Missouri's 26th District
Posted 5/3/23

The Senate Appropriations Committee tackled the arduous “mark-up” process to finalize its version of the state operating budget for FY ‘24.

If you tuned in to the hearings or …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

‘House and close’ call during budget process


The Senate Appropriations Committee tackled the arduous “mark-up” process to finalize its version of the state operating budget for FY ‘24.

If you tuned in to the hearings or listened in the past, you likely heard the chair repeat “House and close” after a majority of budget line items were stated. Considering input from committee members, the chair decides to either accept the House’s budget proposals with a casual “House and close,” go with the governor’s original request, or interject a Senate formula.

After mark-up, the full Senate body will debate and pass the 14 bills that make up the budget. The bills, with the approved changes, then go back to the House for review. If it rejects the Senate’s version, a conference committee consisting of members of both parties and chambers hashes out the differences. To comply with our Constitution, the finalized budget must be on the governor’s desk by May 5.

While the focus is on appropriations, committee hearings and floor activity have slowed down tremendously.

I did have the opportunity to present Senate Bill 522 on April 18 to the Senate Emerging Issues Committee. This legislation aims to protect small businesses involved in selling tobacco products. As with other small businesses, owners take on risk and invest a great deal of time, energy and financial resources to start and build a company.

When approached about the issue of businesses being unable to sell certain tobacco products, I couldn’t help but reflecting on my own experience as a small business owner. Small businesses are already dealing with record levels of inflation, labor shortages and other unprecedented challenges. Government should not be creating additional obstacles and actively working against small business owners in my opinion.

On April 18, I also met with FFA students from Franklin, Warren and Osage counties who were visiting the Capitol for Missouri Farm Bureau’s youth leadership day. I applaud the work of these young students and FFA in preparing our future leaders in science, business and the technology of agriculture.

With less than two weeks left in session, I remain optimistic that a few of my key pieces of legislation will cross the finish line before adjournment on May 12.

One is Senate Bill 167, which passed the Senate and out of the House Professional Registration and Licensing Committee and was referred to the House Regulatory Oversight Committee, inching it one step closer to House debate. This legislation extends a pandemic-era policy to simplify and expedite the medical certification process for professional drivers to obtain their commercial driver’s license.

Another advancing proposal is my Parents Bill of Rights Act, which was combined with Senate Bill 4 and passed by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on April 19.

This multi-pronged education improvement bill would require the Commissioner of Education to establish the Missouri Education Transparency and Accountability Portal to permit citizens to monitor their school district’s actions. The act also includes a provision to prohibit the teaching of divisive concepts and authorizes the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a patriotic and civics training program for educators.

I filed this legislation to help restore the trust that has eroded between school districts and parents since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and believe this measure will drastically improve educational outcomes for children, while giving parents much-needed oversight authority.

A bill that is particularly close to home for me is my Senate Bill 168, which closes a loophole in the Department of Health and Senior Services’ rulemaking authority.

I filed this legislation to ensure that local health authorities would no longer be able to unilaterally issue health orders that, I believe, impede on our rights without oversight or accountability. This measure was debated on the floor on April 20 but not perfected. I look forward to future discussions on this measure, as well as my proposal to permit public libraries to change the dates of their fiscal year and my Senate Joint Resolution 30 to prohibit ranked choice voting in Missouri with voter approval.

I will continue to press hard to get as many of these important priorities across the finish line before session ends. From what I’ve gathered in my first session as a senator, good policies often take years to pass. Thank you for allowing me to learn, negotiate, debate and speak on your behalf.