The 14th week of session has come to an end and Easter break is here. Most Capitol regulars are looking forward to a short week next week as the legislature is taking a break from normal legislative activity Monday to celebrate the Easter holiday. With only five weeks remaining during the 2023 legislative session, committee activity is starting to slow down, while floor activity is starting to ramp up. When the legislative commotion resumes on Tuesday, April 11th, all eyes and ears will be focused sharply on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
On Monday, all ten Senate Democrats signed a letter issued from Senator Doug Beck’s office calling on Governor Mike Parson to replace the head of the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, Reverend Timothy Faber. Reverend Faber testified in opposition last Wednesday in the Senate General Laws Committee against a proposal to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, otherwise known as MONA. Reverend Faber introduced himself as a legislative liaison for the Missouri Baptist Convention and only acknowledged being chairman of the Missouri Commission on Human Rights after questioning by Senator Doug Beck. The ten Democratic Senators stated his testimony is in direct contradiction to the commission’s mission.
On Tuesday, many cities and counties passed an increase on the sales tax on recreational marijuana. Starting in October, all sales of marijuana will be taxed an additional 3% by each city and an additional 3% by each county. There is already a 6% tax rate on recreational marijuana in Missouri. Even with this increase, many other states pay a much higher rate, such as Illinois, who charges up to a 25% tax rate.
The House Budget Committee met this week to allow committee members to ask further questions regarding HBs 17 (Deferred Maintenance Reappropriation), 18 (Maintenance and Repair), 19 (ARPA – mostly reappropriated funds) and 20 (Higher Education Transformation Projects – with a 50/50 match). Committee members’ questions centered mainly on what projects have been completed and if ongoing funding was still required. The main conversation centered on where the funding for I-70 and I-44 would be placed and how much would be appropriated for the two highway systems. At this time no hearing has been set to mark-up the bills and allow committee members to draft their own amendments.
The Senate Appropriations Committee did not meet this week but have been actively engaging in meetings with various stakeholders and Appropriation’s staff to craft their version of the FY2024 budget. Public statements have been released by various Senators announcing their intentions to restore funding for public libraries, return the $859 million to MoDOT for I-70 and I-44, increase the childcare subsidies and expand pre-K programs, and the more conservative members indicated they would like to see some version of the controversial DEI language remain within the budget bills.
Also, this week, Budget Director Dan Haug released the general revenue report for March. Collections for March increased 3.5% compared to those in March 2022, from $926.9 million last year to $959.7 million this year. The net general revenue collection for the FY2023 to-date increased 11.9% compared to March 2022, from $8.29 billion last year to $9.27 billion this year. Although, the revenue report is positive Budget Director Dan Haug did caution the state is expecting a slow down towards the end of FY2023 and the increases in collections are expected to stagnate.
JOINT COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATIVE RULES
The JCAR committee met April 6, and Sen. Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon) was elected as the new chairman of the committee. Rep Alex Riley (R-Springfield) was elected vice-chairman, moving from his position as chairman for the past year. The committee approved the minutes of the JCAR meeting held on April 12, 2022.
JCAR Director Sarah Schappe provided the number of emergency rules, regular rules, and orders she and her staff have reviewed. She said to date 717 fiscal notes have been reviewed this legislative session. She said they have reviewed 22 bills this session with fiscal notes in excess of $250,000, most dealing with recreational marijuana. She said she would be reporting about JCAR at the Missouri Bar Association’s spring meeting.
She said they have reviewed 22 bills this session with fiscal notes more than $250,000, most of the bills dealing with recreational marijuana.
Schappe said during the review process, state departments and agencies are often needed to help review the rules. She said the Department of Agriculture is “extremely slow and not responding,” and she does not have a good explanation for the delay. The Department of Ag started with 50 rules to review and has only reviewed one.
The Director also noted there are four bills filed in the legislature dealing with the rulemaking process. She sought and was given permission to testify in committees for information only on such bills. The committee unanimously approved giving Schappe authority as JCAR’s records custodian and for her other duties as Director. The committee went into closed session for about 40 minutes before returning and adjourning the meeting.
Sunshine of Geographical Information System Data
The House Conservation and Natural Resources Committee convened Monday evening to consider passage of HB 50, sponsored by Representative Jeff Coleman (R-Grain Valley). The bill bars fees in excess of $500 to be charged for sunshine requests related to geographical information system products. During committee discussion, substitute language was adopted which removes the set $500 fee and adds language to allow for the reasonable cost of materials provided to be recovered. Once modified, the committee passed the bill by a 13-0 vote.
The House Local Government Committee convened Tuesday morning to consider passage of HB 92, sponsored by Representative Tim Taylor (R-Bunceton). The bill removes the requirement for county and city committee meetings to take place in the county seat. After no discussion, the committee passed the bill by a 13-0 vote.
Entertainment Industry Act
The Senate Economic Development and Tax policy convened Monday afternoon to discuss HB 133, and HB 583 sponsored by Representatives Brad Hudson (R-Cape Fair). The bill is the House companion to SB 170 sponsored by Senator Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) and establishes the Entertainment Industry Jobs Act, which creates a tax credit for those that provide live entertainment and can be used for rehearsal and tour expenses. Gateway Studios & Production Services, Missouri Citizens for the Arts, Branson Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Associated Industries of Missouri provided supporting testimony. Americans for Prosperity provided opposing testimony.
Media Literacy, Critical Thinking & Appropriate Online Behavior
The House Elementary & Secondary Education Committee convened Wednesday morning to discuss HB 492, sponsored by Representative Jim Murphy (R-St. Louis). The bill requires DESE to develop a two-year “media literacy and critical thinking” pilot program in five to seven school districts across the state beginning in the 2024-25 school year. The purpose of the pilot program will be to allow DESE to develop course curriculum which promotes an individual’s ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and participate in all forms of media with an emphasis on appropriate online behavior. The Missouri Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, iCivics, and the Missouri Library Association testified in support. There was no opposing or informational testimony.
Requirements For Meetings
The House Government Efficiency and Downsizing Committee convened Wednesday morning to discuss HB 646, sponsored by Representative Tony Lovasco (R-St. Charles). The bill allows members of the general assembly to serve as ex-officio members of boards, commissions, councils or legislative bodies within their districts. The committee voted the bill do pass by a vote of 8-4.
Personal Privacy Protection Act
The House Rules-Regulatory Oversight Committee convened Monday afternoon to consider passage of HB 1064, sponsored by Representative Ben Baker (R-Neosho). The bill seeks to modify the Personal Privacy Protection Act to allow public agencies to release, publicize, or otherwise publicly disclose personal information in the agency’s possession with the express, written permission of every individual who is identifiable from the potential release of the personal information. The bills also allow for nonprofit disclosures to release information which has been voluntarily provided previously to public agencies, allow for law enforcement agencies to disclose information, and allow for the disclosure of personal information to a labor union or employee association regarding employees in a bargaining unit represented by the union association. Additionally, the committee substitute clarifies and specifies what personal information applies when protecting privacy of donors that contribute to 501c3, exempts elected official personal financial disclosure forms that are submitted to the MO Ethics Commission, and provides technical cleanup language. The committee voted the bill do pass by a vote of 7-0.
Requirements for Meetings
The House Government Efficiency and Downsizing Committee convened Wednesday morning to consider passage of HB 1295, sponsored by Representative Richard West (R-Wentzville). By July 1, 2024, the bill requires political subdivisions to adopt a meeting speaker policy to allow for public comments and prohibits a political subdivision from banning or removing individuals from a meeting. During committee discussion, substitute language was adopted to clarify public bodies shall not restrict the content public comments and the public body may only request name and contact address in order to speak. Once modified, the committee passed the bill by a 10-3 vote.
Regulatory Sandbox Act
The House Economic Development Committee convened Wednesday morning to discuss SB 3, sponsored by Senator Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg). This is the Senate companion to HB 268, sponsored by Representative Alex Riley (R-Springfield) and creates the Regulatory Sandbox Act which provides small businesses creating innovative products in all industries a way to waive or suspend certain regulations for two years by applying to the Regulatory Relief Office created within the Department of Economic Development. The bill also eliminates the Small Business Fairness Board because they have not had a quorum or the capability to meet over the past ten years. Additionally, the bill provides clean-up language, define terms, and modifies the duties and member make-ups of the various boards. The bill also requires the Sandbox Director to notify the public on the department’s website when an applicant is approved in the program. The bill removed references of “minority owned businesses” and replaced with current statute language that states “businesses owned by each racial minority group.” Finally, the bill also includes SB 69, which is the Right-to-Start Act and creates the Office of Entrepreneurship. Americans for Prosperity, Associated Industries of Missouri, NFIB, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Cicero Action, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and Next Missouri provided supporting testimony. No opposing testimony was provided to the committee.
Chief Data Officer
The Senate Emerging Issues Committee convened Tuesday morning to consider passage for SB 7, sponsored by Senator Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia). This bill establishes the office of Chief Data Officer within the Office of Administration, who has authority to review each state agency’s electronic data management for the purposes of evaluating adequate data management and security. During committee discussion, substitute language was adopted to provide the chief office data authority to prevent state agencies from procuring, utilizing, or exposing any information or communication technology. Additionally, the substitute included provision from HB 919, sponsored by Representative Adam Schnelting (R- St. Charles) which restricts any elected or appointed member or employee of any state agency from using or downloading on any social media platform owned by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) or a company that shares user data with them on state electronic devices. Once modified, the committee passed the bill by a 6-1 vote.
Access to Public Records
The House Crime Prevention Committee convened Monday afternoon to discuss SB 28, sponsored by Senator Justin Brown (R-Rolla). This act provides that a minimum fee of $6 may be charged by the Missouri State Highway Patrol for any request where there are allowable fees of less than $6. The Superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol may increase the minimum fee by not more than $1 every other year following August 28, 2024. The minimum fee shall not exceed $10. The Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri Insurance Coalition testified in support of the bill. No opposing testimony was presented. The committee reconvened Thursday morning to consider passage of SB 28. After considerable discussion, the committee passed the bill by a 23-0 vote.
The House Judiciary Committee convened Monday evening to discuss SB 72, sponsored by Senator Curtis Trent (R – Springfield). The proposed legislation establishes the “Judicial Privacy Act”, which provides restrictions on the use of a judicial officer’s personal information. During the bill’s progression, substitute language was adopted to modify the definition of immediate family to include adoptive, foster and unmarried family members. Additionally, the bill adds prosecuting circuit attorneys and the word “enhancements” to streamline doxing statutes. Finally, the bill also includes SB 302 which prohibits any court documentation from including the information of a minor and adds criminal penalties to the release of law enforcement information. The Judicial Conference of Missouri, a judge from Jackson County, a judge from St. Louis County, Missouri Prosecutors Association and The Missouri Bar provided supporting testimony. No opposing testimony was provided to the committee.
The House Judiciary Committee convened Monday evening to discuss SB 103, sponsored by Senator Sandy Crawford (R-Buffalo). This is the Senate companion bill to HB 90 and provides that any unexpended balance remaining in the Statewide Court Automation Fund shall be transferred to general revenue on September 1, 2029, rather than September 1, 2023, as provided in current law. Additionally, the court fee collected for the Statewide Court Automation Fund shall expire on September 1, 2029, rather than September 1, 2023. Finally, this act repeals the provision requiring the Court Automation Committee to complete its duties by September 1, 2025, and repeals the expiration date for the provision establishing the Statewide Court Automation Fund and the Court Automation Committee. During the bill’s progression, the bill was amended to clarify current law regarding court reporter salaries to provide an increase in salaries and to include SB 372, which repeals provisions relating to a surcharge for petitions for expungement. The Judicial Conference, Missouri Bar and Missouri Court Reporters Association provided supporting testimony. No opposing testimony was provided to the committee.
The Senate Committee on Governmental Accountability convened Thursday morning to discuss five bills, that in varying ways prohibit discrimination against businesses based on ESG scores. Specifically, SB 177, SB 316, SB 50, SB 430, SB 377, sponsored by Senators Bill Eigel (R-St. Charles), Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg), Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove), Jill Carter (R-Granby), and Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R-Arnold) vary from prohibiting any public entity from using ESG scores in a calculation to award public contracts to requiring a company to provide written certification that the company is not currently engaged in, and will not engage in any economic boycotts for the duration of the contract. During bill presentation Senator Coleman informed committee members that the State is one of the largest consumers and the intent of the bills is to protect the economic interests of the State. The Opportunity Solutions Project supported the bill. The MO Sierra Club opposed the bills. The MO Chamber of Commerce and Industry opposed SB 377 and SB 430, and informed committee members that the bills are backdoor business mandates and expressed concerns with vague definitions and the bills could potentially exclude vendors. PROMO MO opposed also SB 377 and SB 430 and informed committee members that the bills are an unconstitutional invasion of freedom of speech.
Commercial Financial Disclosure Law
The House Financial Institutions Committee convened Tuesday afternoon to discuss SB 187, sponsored by Senator Justin Brown (R-Rolla). The bill is the Senate companion to HB 584, sponsored by Representative Bill Owen (R-Springfield). The bill creates the “Commercial Financing Disclosure Act” and requires any person who consummates more than five commercial financing products to a business located in Missouri is required to make certain disclosure to the business with regard to the product. Additionally, the bill requires registration with the Division of Finance prior to engaging in business as a commercial finance broker and replaces commercial financing broker with a broker who engages in commercial financing. The Revenue Based Financing Coalition provided supporting testimony. No opposing testimony was presented to the committee.
Electronic Notification to Victims
The Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee convened Monday afternoon to consider passage of SB 337, sponsored by Sandy Crawford (R-Buffalo). Currently, victims of certain crimes shall be notified by the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement of certain filings or status updates in the criminal case of which he or she is a victim. The bill adds that the victim shall be notified by certified mail or by electronic mail. After no discussion, the committee passed the bill by a 6-0 vote.
The Senate Local Government and Elections Committee met Monday afternoon to consider passage of SB 346, sponsored by Senator Sandy Crawford (R-Buffalo). The bill modifies and updates various provisions relating to elections. Specifically, the bill clarifies when the closing filing date is for elections in the event the closing date falls on a holiday. Additionally, clarifies who can be compensated to solicit voter applications, keeps voter list confidential, and allows a person casting a ballot in person is allowed to cast a provisional ballot without an id. Lastly, the bill increases electioneering from 25 to 75 ft buffer. During committee discussion, substitute language was adopted to modify the buffer from 25 to 50 ft, and decreased penalty provisions for violating provisions relating to electioneering near polling places. Once modified, the committee passed the bill by a 7-0 vote.
Cronkite New Voices Act
The Senate Progress and Development Committee convened Wednesday afternoon to discuss SB 440, sponsored by Senator Barbara Washington (D- Kansas City). The bill establishes the Cronkite New Voices Act, which states that a student journalist has the right to practice freedom of speech and press in school-sponsored media in both public high schools and public institutions of higher education. There was no discussion before committee passed the bill by a 3-1 vote.
Income Tax Rates
The House Ways and Means Committee convened Thursday morning to discuss SJR 3, sponsored by Senator Andrew Koenig (R-Manchester). This constitutional amendment, if approved by the voters, prohibits the General Assembly from setting a state income tax rate exceeding 5.5%. The resolution also modifies a provision prohibiting sales taxes levied on transactions not taxed as of January 1, 2015, by providing an exception for sales and use taxes on subscriptions, licenses for digital products, and online purchases of tangible personal property. The sponsor informed the committee a substitute would be forthcoming with negotiated language between the cable companies, and called it Wayfair 2.0. No supporting or opposing testimony was presented to the committee.
Tax Exemption for Childcare Facilities
The House Children and Families convened Tuesday morning to discuss SJR 26, sponsored by Senator Travis Fitzwater (R-Holts Summit). Upon voter approval, the resolution would exempt personal, or business property used for the purpose of operating a childcare facility from taxation. Campaign Life Missouri and Missouri Catholic Conference provided supporting testimony stating this is simply authorizing language. No opposing testimony was provided to the committee.
The House dedicated floor time Wednesday to revisit HB 178, sponsored by Representative Dean Van Schoiack (R-Savannah). The bill establishes the offense of unlawful use of an unmanned aircraft. Specifically, a person commits the offense of unlawful use of an unmanned aircraft if they launch, land, or operate an unmanned aircraft on private property, or within a vertical distance of 400 feet from the ground within a private property line, without permission from the property owner. The bill also requires permission from landlords to place gaming cameras on the property. During previous debate, Representative Mike Haffner (R-Pleasant Hill) successfully amended the bill to ensure operating procedures for drones matched federal TSA regulations and guidelines. After a brief debate, the House passed the bill by a 132-2 vote. The bill now will be sent to the Senate for further consideration.
Highway Patrol Records Fees
The House dedicated floor time Wednesday morning to revisit HB 443, sponsored by Representative Kyle Marquart (R-Washington). The bill requires the Missouri State Highway Patrol to charge a minimum cost of six dollars anytime an individual requests a crash record. The bill also includes HB 731 which modifies provisions relating to child safety seat requirements; HB 207 which modifies provisions relating to motor vehicle inspection requirements prior to sale is included in the bill. Additionally, the bill requires children who are at least four feet tall and under eight years of age to be secured by a seatbelt and modifies penalties for improperly tinted windows to a class D misdemeanor. After no debate, the House passed the bill by 123-28 vote. The bill now will be sent to the Senate for further consideration.
The House dedicated floor time Tuesday morning to debate HB 703, sponsored by Representative Mike Haffner (R-Pleasant Hill). The bill requires initiative and referendum petition signature pages to be standardized with fonts, style, margins, page numbers and the use of dark ink and allow for signature pages to be available electronically. Additionally, the bill requires petition circulators to be US citizens and Missouri residents and not be compensated based on the number of signatures collected. The bill also calls for any substantial changes made by the courts to IP titles to invalidate the signatures collected. Finally, the bill repeals the requirement the Joint Committee on Legislative Research to hold a public hearing for comment 30 days after the Secretary of State issues certification that the signature threshold has been reached. After a brief debate, the House provided the first of two necessary votes. The House dedicated floor time Thursday morning to revisit HB 703. After no debate, the House passed the bill by a 109-49 vote. The bill now will be sent to the Senate for further consideration.
Personal Privacy Protection Act
The House dedicated floor time Wednesday to debate HB 1064, sponsored by Representative Ben Baker (R-Neosho). The bill seeks to modify the Personal Privacy Protection Act to allow public agencies to release, publicize, or otherwise publicly disclose personal information in the agency’s possession with the express, written permission of every individual who is identifiable from the potential release of the personal information. The amendment also allows for the disclosure for nonprofits to release information which has been voluntarily provided previously to public agencies, allows for law enforcement agencies to disclose information, and allows the disclosure of personal information to a labor union or employee association regarding employees in a bargaining unit represented by the union association. During debate, the sponsor successfully amended the bill to add negotiated language for the Missouri Ethics Commission regarding financial disclosure reports for committees and candidates, for the Office of Administration to ensure the Transparency Portal is restarted, and negotiated language with the state’s two zoos to ensure donors may choose to have their contributions made public. Once modified, the House provided the first of two necessary approval votes.
House-Children and Families
04/11/2023 9:00 AM
Committee Hearing, HR 6
SJR26 Fitzwater – Authorizes a property tax exemption for certain property used for childcare
House-Elections and Elected Officials
04/11/2023 11:00 AM
Committee Hearing, HR 6
HB834 Murphy – Modifies provisions for initiative petitions and referendums
House-Elementary and Secondary Education
04/12/2023 8:00 AM
Committee Hearing, HR 7
HB492 Murphy – Establishes the Media Literacy and Critical Thinking Act
04/12/2023 8:00 AM
Committee Hearing, HR 1
HB752 Knight – Repeals provisions requiring the publication of bids for state contracts in newspapers
House-Special Committee on Government Accountability
04/12/2023 12:00 PM or upon morning recess
Committee Hearing, HR 3
HB1175 Christofanelli – Modifies powers of the state auditor
HB884 Cupps – Requires legislative review of administrative rules expected to cost more than $250,000 to implement