2014 MPA Roundup

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2014 MPA Legislative Roundup
May 22, 2014  (updated Sept. 11, 2014)

The Missouri General Assembly’s veto session in Jefferson City was held Sept. 10, ending in the early hours of Sept. 11.

Two bills of interest to Missouri Press Association will become law in 30 days after Senate and House members voted to override Governor Jay Nixon’s vetoes.  The bills are Senate Bill 593, a bill that will allow “non-election elections” in cities, towns and villages of fewer than 1,000 population, and Senate Bill 656, a bill allowing school protection officers to carry firearms in schools.

Here is information about those two bills, followed by a roundup of MPA legislative information from the 2014 regular session.

Senate Bill 593, sponsored by Sen. David Sater (R-Cassville). Senate Bill 593 modifies provisions relating to nonpartisan elections.  The bill states that in a nonpartisan election in cities, towns and villages of fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, no election will take place if the number of seats available equals the number of candidates who filed for the office.  The bill may be implemented by an ordinance, which allows the jurisdiction to except from holding these elections for six years from the ordinance’s passage unless another ordinance is passed. The bill requires a public notice in newspaper to be published by the first of the month in which the election would have occurred containing the names of candidates that will be placed in office when the election is not held.  PASSED, VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR.  The Senate and the House voted to override the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 593.

Senate Bill 656, sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit).  A school board seeking to designate a school protection officer must hold a public hearing on the matter.  Notice of the hearing must be by publication in a local newspaper, where the school district is located, at least 15 days before the hearing.  The board may meet in a closed meeting to determine whether to allow the school protection officer to carry a concealed firearm or self-defense spray device.  PASSED, VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR.  The Senate and the House voted to override the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 656.

The 2014 session of the Missouri General Assembly closed at 6 p.m. Friday, May 16.

For the most part, Missouri Press Association fared well.  A disappointment included little movement on strengthening the Missouri Sunshine Law, although Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) filed Senate Bill 843, which was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.  There was no action on the bill either on the floor of the Senate or in the House of Representatives.

There were a few brushes where defense by MPA came into play with bills attempting to limit public notices in newspapers.

Thanks to those publishers who contacted their legislators on various issues.  It is most important for MPA publishers to stay in touch with their senators and representatives on issues that are vital to the newspaper industry.

Legislators will return again to Jefferson City for their annual Veto Session in September, although the vetoed bill getting the most attention (and being overridden by the Senate and the House in early May) was Senate Bill 509, the income tax cut bill.  Governor Nixon’s veto of SB 509 was overridden by votes in the Senate, 23-8, and in the House, 109-46.

MPA staff and its lobbying team monitored more than 100 bills introduced during the session.  Below is a list of MPA’s most closely watched bills, and their outcomes.

Bills of Interest to Missouri Press Association

HOUSE BILLS

House Bill 1200, sponsored by Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Springfield).  House Bill 1200 requires the Attorney General to collect and provide information regarding open records and contractual sales of information to businesses and other organizations.  DID NOT PASS.

House Bill 1202, sponsored by Rep. Ken Wilson (R-Smithville).  House Bill 1202 would allow counties to advertise for bids using web sites and online bidding services instead of public notices in newspapers.  The bill received a hearing in the House, but MPA worked with Rep. Wilson, the bill sponsor, and the bill did not advance.  DID NOT PASS.

House Bill 1204, sponsored by Rep. Ken Wilson (R-Smithville) establishes the Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, which prohibits the use of drones or other unmanned aircraft to gather evidence or other information with specified exceptions.  Rep. Wilson acknowledged the controversial nature of this bill, but stated that this subject needs state regulation.  MPA worked with the bill sponsor to provide an exemption in the bill to allow the media to use drones in newsgathering.  HB 1204 passed the House and was approved by a Senate Committee.  It received no floor debate in the Senate.  DID NOT PASS.

House Bill 1225, sponsored by Rep. Warren Love (R-Osceola).  House Bill 1225 modifies provisions relating to self-service storage facilities.  The Missouri Self Storage Owners Association testified in support of the bill, and Missouri Press Association testified in support after the bill was amended to require a public notice in the newspaper before stored property is auctioned.  PASSED, SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR.

House Bill 1231, sponsored by Rep. Stan Cox (R-Sedalia), was third read and passed by the House by a vote of 119-30.  The bill includes the following provision of interest:  Adds an action for “injurious falsehood,” similar to libel, to the two-year statute of limitations.  MPA had been working on this issue for several years.  PASSED, SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR.

House Bill 1251, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Elmer (R-Nixa). This bill specifies that counties of the first class are not required to obtain bids on any purchase of $6,000 or less from any one person, firm, or corporation during any 90-day period. Currently, this exemption only applies to Boone and Greene counties. The bill specifies that counties of the first class are required to advertise and post notice only on a proposed single feasible source purchase of $6,000 or more. Currently, this requirement only applies to Boone and Greene counties. DID NOT PASS.

House Bill 1263, sponsored by Rep. Robert Cornejo (R-St. Peters). The bill defines terms relating to business and public records retention requirements.  DID NOT PASS.

House Bill 1300, sponsored by Rep. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia). Allows the Boone County fire protection district board of directors to meet without public notice in order to disburse funds necessary for the deployment of Task Force One.  MPA worked with the sponsor to amend the bill to require minutes of the special meeting to be made public.  PASSED, SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR.

House Bill 1426, sponsored by Rep. John Diehl (R-Town & Country), and Senate Bill 767, sponsored by Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Glendale).  Enacts provisions relating to the disclosure of personal identifying information during a disaster or emergency. Any county can set up a voluntary registry of persons with health-related ailments to assist individuals in case of a disaster or emergency. No name, address or any other personal identifying information in such registry is a public record. An incident report, as defined in section 610.100, shall be made public if a disaster or emergency occurs that involves any person listed on the registry.  PASSED, SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR.

House Bill 1665 & 1335, sponsored by Rep. Caleb Jones (R-California) and Rep. Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City).  House Bill 1665 & 1335 establishes the crime of charging money to remove an arrest booking photograph from his or her internet website.  MPA worked with the sponsors to keep mug shots open to the news media.  An amendment to the bill by Sen. Brad Lager (R-Savannah) allows a person, arrested for or charged with a misdemeanor offense or a “moving violation” except for any intoxication-related traffic offenses, to be eligible to seek expungement of the arrest record if the charges were dropped or the person was found not guilty of the offense. PASSED, SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR.

House Bill 1715, sponsored by Rep. Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City). For any contract between a private company and the State of Missouri, this bill requires the Office of Administration to post on the Missouri Accountability Portal a copy of each contract and request for proposal for goods and services purchased by the state unless otherwise prohibited by law.  DID NOT PASS.

House Bill 1815, sponsored by Representative Don Phillips (R-Kimberling City). This bill specifies that for purposes of open records laws, an “incident report” does not include “accident reports”.  Substitute language added after MPA intervened would allow bona fide media outlets, attorneys representing parties to accidents, and affiliated insurance providers access to accident reports.  DID NOT PASS.

House Bill 1832, sponsored by Rep. John Mayfield (D-Independence). This bill specifies that the Open Meetings and Records Law, commonly known as the Sunshine Law, applies to individual members of the General Assembly.  MPA testified in favor of the bill at a House committee hearing.  It did not advance.  DID NOT PASS.

House Bill 2094, sponsored by Rep. Jay Houghton (R-Mexico).  Exempts data collected by state agencies under the federal Animal Disease Traceability Program from disclosure under Missouri’s Sunshine Law.  This bill specifies that data relating to premises registration, animal identification, or animal tracking collected by any state agency from participants under the federal Animal Disease Traceability Program or any data collected for the purpose of animal health or environmental protection is not subject to the Missouri Sunshine Law or the Freedom of Information Act. MPA offered written testimony against the bill in the House, and provided language to the sponsor to modify the closure of records.  DID NOT PASS.

House Bill 2124, sponsored by Rep. Karla May (D-St. Louis).  Changes the laws regarding arrearages and the expungement of certain records related to criminal nonsupport.  DID NOT PASS.

House Bill 2169, sponsored by Rep. Mark Parkinson (R-St. Charles), on Wednesday, April 9, 2014.  House Bill 2169 modifies provisions relating to state procurement.  There were no witnesses to testify in support of the bill.  Doug Crews, Missouri Press Association, testified in opposition, and Brett Berri, Office of Administration, testified for informational purposes.  DID NOT PASS.

House Bill 2249, sponsored by Rep. Jay Houghton (R-Mexico). Requires the Missouri Accountability Portal to display an itemized list of all purchases of $250 or more made by a state agency.  DID NOT PASS.

SENATE BILLS

Senate Bill 491, sponsored by Sen. Jolie Justus (D-Kansas City).  Senate Bill 491 is the massive Criminal Code bill.  Among the many changes, the bill adds first-time intoxication-related boating offenses to possible records expungement after 10 years.  The records expungement statute is moved from chapter 577. 054 to chapter 610.130. PASSED, GOVERNOR TOOK NO ACTION, HAS BECOME LAW WITHOUT HIS SIGNATURE.

Senate Bill 504, sponsored by Sen. Brian Munzlinger (R-Clarence).  Senate Bill 504 would required that state agencies proposing rules must post those rules on their web sites, with full text of the rules, fiscal notes and links to the Missouri Register. (Similar to House Bill 1432, sponsored by Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia.)  PASSED, SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR.

Senate Bill 584, sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon (R-Springfield), and Senate Bill 662, sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit).  Both bills allow a seller to advertise that the required sales tax will be assumed or absorbed into the price of the property sold or the service rendered if the amount of the tax is separately stated on the invoice or receipt (Section 144.190).  PASSED, BOTH BILLS VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR.   No motion to override the veto of Senate Bill 584.  On Senate Bill 662, the Senate adopted a motion to override the veto, but the House defeated a motion to override.  The vetoes were sustained.

Senate Bill 593, sponsored by Sen. David Sater (R-Cassville). Senate Bill 593 modifies provisions relating to nonpartisan elections.  The bill states that in a nonpartisan election in cities, towns and villages of fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, no election will take place if the number of seats available equals the number of candidates who filed for the office.  The bill may be implemented by an ordinance, which allows the jurisdiction to except from holding these elections for six years from the ordinance’s passage unless another ordinance is passed. The bill requires a public notice in newspaper to be published by the first of the month in which the election would have occurred containing the names of candidates that will be placed in office when the election is not held.  PASSED, VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR.  The Senate and the House voted to override the Governor’s veto on Senate Bill 593.

Senate Bill 615, sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon (R-Springfield).  Among other provisions, the bill establishes a new exemption to the Sunshine Law, requested by Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.  Individually identifiable records submitted to the Lt. Governor concerning reports of waste, fraud and abuse of public resources may be closed records.  PASSED, VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR.  There was no motion to override the veto of Senate Bill 615.

Senate Bill 620, sponsored by Sen. Brian Nieves (R-Washington). This act provides that no parking space upon the capitol grounds shall be specifically designated or set aside for any person that is not an official or employee of the state, however an appropriate number of spaces may be designated for handicapped parking. Also, no person or entity that is not an official or employee of the state shall be allowed an office or reserved space in the State Capitol building, except for reserved space within the Senate and House chambers and galleries, and any non-public person or entity maintaining an office or space shall remove its office or space from the State Capitol building on or before August 28, 2013.  The intent of this bill was to eliminate parking spaces and office space for the capitol press corps. The bill received a Senate committee hearing in February, was voted “do pass” by the committee in early April, but was not debated on the Senate floor.  DID NOT PASS.

Senate Bill 656, sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit).  A school board seeking to designate a school protection officer must hold a public hearing on the matter.  Notice of the hearing must be by publication in a local newspaper where the school district is located at least 15 days before the hearing.  The board may meet in a closed meeting to determine whether to allow the school protection officer to carry a concealed firearm or self-defense spray device.  PASSED, VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR.  The Senate and the House voted to override the Governor’s veto.

Senate Bill 672, sponsored by Sen. Mike Parson (R-Bolivar).  Sets requirements for public notice in a local newspaper when the city of Riverside, Mo. seeks to detach from a public ambulance district.  PASSED, SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR.

Senate Bill 690, sponsored by Sen. Jay Wasson (R-Nixa).  The bill provides that the emergency 911 telephone service board appointed by Greene County is not to be considered a body corporate and a political subdivision of the state for any purpose unless the county commissioners unanimously adopt an order reclassifying the board as such.  PASSED, SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR.

Senate Bill 693, sponsored by Sen. Mike Parson (R-Bolivar).  Among the bill’s provisions, it requires the St. Louis County Assessor to place on correspondence with taxpayers a statement that disclosure of information is voluntary and will become public record if disclosed. This provision does not apply to request for information regarding the required listing of property or listing of lessees.  Also, amendment to House Bill 1553. Also, amendment to Senate Bill 584.  PASSED, SB 693 and SB 584 VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR.  The Senate made no motion to override the veto of Senate Bill 693 or the veto of Senate Bill 584.  House Bill 1553 was vetoed by the Governor, and the House defeated a motion to override the Governor’s veto.

Senate Bill 719, sponsored by Sen. Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City).  Senate Bill 719 modifies the laws relating to school purchases.  This bill prohibits any elected official, appointed official, or employee of any school district from performing a service or selling, renting, or leasing any property to the school district for more than $500 per transaction or $5,000 of value annually to him or her, to his or her spouse, or to a dependent child in his or her custody, or to any business with which he or she is associated unless the transaction is made after public notice and competitive bidding in the case of property other than real property if the lowest bid or offer is accepted (Section 105.454, RSMo).  Currently, also, any school board member, officer, or employee of a seven-director school district that is located in a first classification county who sells or provides certain commodities to the district is guilty of a class A misdemeanor and must forfeit his or her position with the district. The bill removes this prohibition and aligns seven-director districts located in a first classification county with the current law regarding seven-director districts located in second, third, and fourth classification counties so that any school board member, officer, or employee may sell or provide certain commodities to the district provided he or she complies with certain ethics provisions (Section 171.181).  PASSED, SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR.

Senate Bill 734, sponsored by Sen. Mike Cunningham (R-Marshfield).  Allows electric cooperative members to participate in business meetings for quorum and voting purposes electronically or by mail if allowed by the bylaws governing the meeting.  PASSED, SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR.

Senate Bill 837, sponsored by Sen. Scott Sifton (D-St. Louis).  Currently, a self-service storage facility operator may conduct the sale of personal items within the storage facility after certain conditions are met, including an advertisement seven days before the sale that lists the time, place, and terms of sale. This act also requires that the advertisement list the occupant’s name.  Similar to House Bill 1225 (but without the occupant’s name requirement), which PASSED, HB 1225 was SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR.

Senate Bill 843, sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia).  Senate Bill 843 modifies provisions of the Missouri Sunshine Law.  At a hearing earlier this session in the Senate Judiciary Committee, those testifying in support of the bill were Jean Maneke, on behalf of the Missouri Press Association, and Otto Fajen, on behalf of the Missouri National Education Association.  The Missouri National Guard Association, City of Jefferson, Missouri Municipal League, Municipal League of St. Louis County, Fire Service Alliance, Mehlville Fire Protection District, Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners, Missouri Association of Counties, Missouri School Boards Association, and Missouri Public Utility Alliance testified in opposition to the bill.  Those testifying in opposition primarily objected to the “knowing” standard of violation becoming strict liability, the inability of government agencies to assess costs for redaction and sorting of public and private documents, and disclosure of their finalists for administrative position searches.  The committee later approved the bill “do pass,” but it was not debated on the Senate floor, or in the House.  DID NOT PASS.

Senate Bill 854, sponsored by Sen. Jay Wasson (R-Nixa).  Senate Bill 854 modifies provisions relating to county purchases.  The bill provides that Christian County is only required to advertise and post notice of such proposed purchases that exceed $6,000.  PASSED as amendment to House Bill 1553, PASSED, VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR.

Senate Bill 892, sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit).  Changes the U.S. presidential primary election in Missouri from February to March.  In 2016, the election will be held on the second Tuesday after the first Monday in March.  PASSED, SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR.

PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS on the statewide ballot this year:

Constitutional Amendment 1 — House Joint Resolution 11, sponsored (passed in 2013) by Rep. Bill Reiboldt (R-Neosho).  Proposes a constitutional amendment affirming the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices.  APPROVED BY VOTERS, AUGUST 5.  Recount in progress.

Constitutional Amendment 5 —  Senate Joint Resolution 36, sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia).  This proposed constitutional amendment, if approved by voters, modifies provisions regarding the right to keep and bear arms. This amendment provides that a citizen has the right to keep and bear arms, ammunition, and accessories typical to the normal function of such arms, in defense of their family, in addition to the current rights in defense of home, person and property. The amendment removes language stating that the right to keep and bear arms did not justify the wearing of concealed weapons.  The amendment provides that the rights guaranteed under this provision of the Constitution are unalienable. Any restriction on these rights shall be subject to strict scrutiny. The State of Missouri is obligated to uphold these rights and shall under no circumstances decline to protect against their infringement. Nothing in this amendment shall be construed to prevent the passage of laws by the General Assembly that limit such rights for convicted violent felons or persons adjudged to be a danger to self or others as the result of a mental disorder or mental infirmity.  APPROVED BY VOTERS, AUGUST 5.

Constitutional Amendment 7 — House Joint Resolution 68, sponsored by Rep. Dave Hinson (R-St. Clair).  Proposes a constitutional amendment imposing a .75 percent increase in the state sales and use tax for 10 years to be used for transportation purposes.  FAILED AUGUST 5.

Constitutional Amendment 8 — House Joint Resolution 48, sponsored by Rep. Sheila Solon (R-Blue Springs).  Proposes a constitutional amendment requiring the State Lottery Commission to develop and sell a Veterans Lottery Ticket with proceeds to go to the Veterans Commission Capital Improvement Trust Fund.  FAILED AUGUST 5.

Constitutional Amendment 9 — Senate Joint Resolution 27, sponsored by Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph).  Provides that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data.  This proposed constitutional amendment, if approved by the voters, provides that a person’s electronic communication and data are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures performed by the government. The amendment specifies that prior to issuance, a warrant must describe the data or communication to be accessed and be supported by probable cause.  APPROVED BY VOTERS, AUGUST 5.

The following Constitutional Amendments will be voted on November 4:

Constitutional Amendment 2 — House Joint Resolution 16, sponsored (passed in 2013) by Rep. John McCaherty (R-High Ridge).  Proposes a constitutional amendment allowing relevant evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim less than 18 years of age.

Constitutional Amendment 3 — Placed on the ballot by initiative petition.  Proposes a constitutional amendment requiring teachers to be evaluated by a standards based performance evaluation system, requiring teacher employment and pay to be evaluated using student performance data, requiring teacher contracts to be three or fewer years with public school districts, and prohibiting teachers from organizing or collectively bargaining regarding the design and implementation of  the teacher evaluation system.

Constitutional Amendment 6 — House Joint Resolution 90, sponsored by Rep. Tony Dugger (R-Hartville).  Proposes a constitutional amendment requiring the establishment of a six-day voting period before a general election.

Constitutional Amendment 10 — House Joint Resolution 72, sponsored by Rep. Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff).  Proposes a constitutional amendment prohibiting the Governor from reducing any payment of public debt and requiring notification to the General Assembly when he or she makes specified payment changes of appropriations.

Thanks to MPA’s lobbying team, Harry Gallagher and Heath Clarkston, assisted by LuAnn Madsen and Phil Wright!  And, thanks to MPA’s Legislative Committee, Richard Gard, chairman; Jean Maneke, and MPA publishers who stay in touch with their elected officials and who make important phone calls and contacts with their legislators when MPA issues Legislative Alerts during the session!

Please contact MPA if you wish to be added to the MPA Legislative Report, emailed each week to MPA members during the annual legislative session.

If you have any questions about legislation that MPA monitors, please contact:

Doug Crews, MPA executive director

dcrews@socket.net

(report updated Sept. 11, 2014)

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