Preview of the 2012 legislative session

Missouri Lawmakers will return to the capitol for the start of the 2012 legislative session Wednesday afternoon.

Soon after the gavel bangs to open the second session of the 96th General Assembly, school funding should step into the spotlight.

Lawmakers have said they'll make it a priority to fix the formula that distributes money to Missouri's public schools.

The problem is that it was not designed to pro-rate the money in years when the formula is not fully funded.

As a result, some districts least in need of state money could benefit at the expense of other, poorer districts.

There likely will be more debate over the health insurance mandate required by federal law.

Missouri voters rejected the idea in 2010, but face legal challenges.

Now, some senators want to put the rejection in the state constitution.

Lawmakers also could vote to drive up the fine for not wearing a seatbelt from $10 to $50.

They probably will also take another shot at requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls.

Politics could weigh heavy on most of the legislative debate.

It's more than just an election year, 2012 is a redistricted year.

With the boundary lines redrawn, some lawmakers will be forced to compete with fellow incubents to hold onto their jobs, or to move up in the legislature.

Legislation that's filed early gets a small head start, but that doesn't mean the proposals will pass.