JOPLIN, Mo. — With just five weeks to go in the 2022 legislative session, southwest Missouri lawmakers are checking in with voters.

The more than $46 billion state budget is a top priority. That’s just the start of the monthly legislative update this morning.

“And it’s kind of a milestone in the legislative session,” said MO Rep. Cody Smith, R.

The preliminary budget has passed the House – and is now up for debate in the Senate. The 2023 Spending Plan is even bigger than normal due to Federal Coronavirus Funds.

Some of Governor Mike Parsons budget items didn’t make the cut, but a big boost to higher education is still in the works… At least for now.

“It’s some $600 million of new spending for higher education. And that is, you know, there’s a pretty broad consensus across the General Assembly to try to allocate more resources to higher education,” added Smith.

State funding is also front and center in an Agriculture Omnibus bill.

“Tax credits, renewing extending time limits a change in the dollar, amounts for different biodiesel, ethanol. Soybeans supports, we we created a new rural economic development program to try to get a bit more of our economic development in rural areas,” said MO Sen. Bill White, R.

Another measure under consideration focuses on healthcare in the last couple of years, a bill called the “No Patient Left Alone” act.

“People were very frustrated about was situations where hospitals and long term care facilities were completely prohibiting visitors even family members from seeing their family even in times of end of life situations. And so we’ve been trying to thread the needle on that,” said MO Rep. Ben Baker, R.

Redistricting is still being debated, redrawing some political boundaries based on the changes from the 2020 census.

They’ve got until May 13th, when the session ends.