To say Kansas City leaders spent the 2016 legislative session playing defense would be an understatement.
Kansas City’s earnings tax, which accounts for nearly half the city’s general fund, was on the chopping block as GOP lawmakers pushed to repeal it.
An ordinance the city passed last spring regulating vehicle-for-hire companies like Uber and Lyft was the target of legislators seeking to replace it with more lenient statewide standards.
A “religious freedom” amendment to Missouri’s constitution that local business and government officials complained could be a disaster for the region’s economy began picking up momentum early in the session.
It seemed every day there was a new proposal causing city leaders sleepless nights.
“Win, lose or draw, this has been the roughest legislative session of my entire career,” said Bill Gamble, who has lobbied for Kansas City since 1985 and worked in the Capitol since 1973.
But by 6 p.m. Friday, when the Missouri General Assembly adjourned for the year, each of those bills was dead.
Despite holding supermajorities in the Missouri House and Senate, Republicans were unable to get many of their top policy priorities across the finish line. In the end, the 2016 legislative session may be remembered as much for the bills that failed as the ones that were approved.
To be sure, Republican leaders had plenty to celebrate.
“Thanks to the hard work of my colleagues, we had a very successful session,” said Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, a Joplin Republican. “We passed legislation that will help improve the communities across the state.”
On the session’s final day, the GOP pushed through a wide-ranging gun bill that would establish a “stand your ground” law, allowing a person to use deadly force in self-defense without the duty to retreat when faced with a perceived threat.
The bill also contains a provision making it legal for people to carry concealed weapons without a permit anyplace they can currently carry guns openly. The bill also allows a houseguest to use deadly force to defend themselves in someone else’s home.