2023 Legislative Update – Feb. 10

In Legislative News, Legislative Reports, Legislative Resources, MPA Legislative Resources On

Floor Debate Returns

This week the Senate experienced its first filibuster of the session as MO Senate Democrats stood in opposition to block a bill that seeks to lower the maximum unemployment benefits. After several hours, the issue was pushed to another day. Meanwhile, the House dedicated most of the week debating an anti-crime proposal. House Republicans to date have successfully avoided any in-fighting that has largely characterized previous sessions and have managed to continue advance in caucus priorities.

On Thursday, the Department of Economic Development announced that it will award more than $7.2 million in tax credits through the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) to 35 organizations for community development projects statewide. A total of $16 million are awarded through NAP annually and are limited to applicants that are nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and businesses that meet the program requirements. This cycle of credits was reserved for organizations providing critical services, with priority given to projects providing job training, education, and those located in previously undeserved areas of the state. The full list of recipients may be found here.

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday marijuana dispensaries sold $12,689,965 worth of product on the opening weekend of recreational sale in Missouri. Out of the $12.7 million in opening weekend sales in MO, $4.2 million worth of marijuana was purchased by MO medical marijuana patients, and $8.5 million were recreational purchases.

The Honorable Paul C. Wilson, chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, delivered the annual State of the Judiciary address on Feb. 8. A joint session of the General Assembly was the audience for the 30-minute speech.

Technology to make courts open and accessible was one of Chief Justice Wilson’s topics. “One of the keys to making Missouri courts more open and accessible is the work we have done on court technology and automation. These innovations have not only revolutionized how we work, they’ve fundamentally changed how Missourians interact with their court system,” he said.

Among the technology he noted: Most Missouri traffic cases can be resolved online. The courts’ eJuror system makes more efficient use of citizens’ time when they are called to serve as jurors. Public terminals in every county courthouse give Missourians access to any public document in their case … or any case across the state. And, starting this July, the courts will begin making this same functionality available over the internet so Missourians can access public court documents when and where it’s most convenient for them.

The statute imposing a $7 filing fee for court automation, first enacted in 1994, is again up for renewal. Chief Justice Wilson said some funding for court automation comes from general revenue. But the $7 filing fee has never increased in the 30 years it’s been in effect.

The Senate Appropriations Committee continued to consider and discuss the FY 2024 budget requests from the various departments this week. The full House Budget Committee also met this week and considered passage of HB 14, which is the Emergency Supplemental bill. During committee discussions, Chairman Cody Smith (R-Carthage) did make changes to the Governor’s recommended 8.7% pay plan increase by removing all elected officials from that pay plan. However, Smith did make an adjustment from the current mileage reimbursement rate to match the federal rate which would bring the total to $.65 per mile. The full House dedicated floor time Thursday morning to debate HB 14, and during debate minimal changes were made to the House and Senate contingencies fund to replenish funding used during last year’s special session. Once modified, the House provided its of two necessary approval votes. The House is expected to revisit the bill next week and provide its final vote in order to send it to the Senate for further consideration.

Also, this week, the House Appropriations sub-committees began the mark-up process for the full budget. By next week, all of the sub-committees should have completed the mark-up for submission to the full budget committee. It is anticipated the full budget committee will meet the following week to hear the sub-committee changes, take public testimony, and have any final questions answered by the various departments.

Committee Activity

The House Special Committee on Homeland Security convened Monday afternoon to discuss HB 668, sponsored by Representative Dan Houx (R-Warrensburg). This legislation allows the Department of Economic Development to disperse a one-time grant to small businesses to enhance cybersecurity. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Missouri Bankers Association, Associated Industries of Missouri, Missouri Retailers Association, Missouri Grocers Association, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Civic Council of Kansas City, Missouri Pharmacy Association, Missouri Dental Association, University of Central Missouri, and Fortnet provided supporting testimony and informed committee members that small businesses are the hardest hit by cybersecurity attacks, and Missouri is ranked second as having the most costly cybersecurity losses. There was no opposing testimony presented to the committee.

The House Committee on Economic Development convened Wednesday morning to consider passage of HB 268, sponsored by Representative Alex Riley (R-Springfield). This is the House companion bill to SB 3, sponsored by Senator Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) and 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. During committee discussion, substitute language was adopted to align the bill with the Senate language by eliminating the Small Business Fairness Board, provides clean-up language, defines terms, modifies the duties and member make-ups of the various boards, requires the Sandbox Director to notify the public on the departments website when an applicant is approved in the program and removes references of “minority owned businesses” and replacing with current statute language that states, “businesses owned by each racial minority group.” Once modified, the committee passed the bill with a 16-0 vote.

House Bill 389 (Veit, R-Wardsville) creates the crime of tampering with a judicial officer (judge) if a person distributes the judicial officer’s personal information through any means, including posting on the Internet. Personal information is defined in the bill to include a home address, home or mobile telephone number, personal email address, Social Security number, federal tax identification number, checking or savings account number, marital status, and identity of a child under 18 years of age. HB 389 was heard by the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 6. The legislation also makes it a crime to distribute the judicial officer’s family’s personal information. The definition of judicial officer includes a commissioner of state or federal court. Also covered in the legislation is the crime of disclosing personal information of an elected official or of a member of the elected official’s family with the intent to harass, intimidate, or cause death or bodily injury. Various penalties in the bill include class A misdemeanor, class B felony, and class D felony. Some comments from committee members sought clarification and interpretation of the punishments in the bill. Testimony in support of HB 389 was offered by the Missouri Supreme Court and the Judicial Conference of Missouri; and RELX, Inc. No testimony in opposition. The committee took no action on the bill. The committee chairman said HB 389 will likely become part of an omnibus bill compiled by the committee.

House Bill 703 (Haffner, R-Pleasant Hill) makes various statutory changes to the initiative and referendum petition process. HB 703 was heard by the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee on Feb. 7. The legislative changes affect the signature pages that are circulated, requirements for petition circulators to be at least 18 years old, U.S. citizens and at least 30-day residents of Missouri prior to collection of signatures, that compensation cannot be based on the number of signatures collected, signatures must be recorded using a dark ink, and other changes dealing with legal challenges and court orders prior to a statewide vote. If a court orders a change that substantially alters content of the official ballot title, signatures collected prior to the court order shall be invalidated. The bill deletes the current requirement of the Joint Committee on Legislative Research to hold a public hearing on petition summaries. Witnesses who testified in support of HB 703 included Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R), Missouri Farm Bureau, and the Opportunity Solutions Project. The Farm Bureau supports the bill, seeking to make it more difficult for out-of-state organizations or individuals to change the Missouri Constitution. Witnesses in opposition were the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, Jobs For Justice Voter Action, League of Women Voters of Missouri, and Arnie A.C. Dienoff Witnesses in opposition to the bill said duplicative items contained in the bill create confusion and said the measure does not stand up to constitutional scrutiny, noting a January 2023 case in South Dakota that threw out that state’s 30-day residency requirement for signature gatherers, saying it limits free speech. Information only was offered by Ron Calzone. The committee took no action on the bill.

House Bill 984 (Hicks, R-Lake St. Louis) prohibits the public disclosure of confidential information authorized to be closed under Chapter 610, RSMo, or any personal information, including a person’s Social Security number, bank account number, or date of birth, by a state court or an employee or agent of a state court. HB 984 was heard by the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 6. Rep. Hicks said the bill’s intent is to close such personal information from being posted on CaseNet. The bill does allow financial institutions, insurers, or consumer reporting agencies that are permitted by law to access state court records to use a person’s unique identifying information to match information contained in court records to validate the person’s record. A question was asked about the bill’s reference to closing information “authorized to be closed by chapter 610,” and it was noted that such a law could require court clerks to become experts on the Sunshine Law. The bill does not include any penalties for enforcement, but Rep. Hicks said penalties may be added to the bill. The Missouri Supreme Court would promulgate rules to set the legislation in motion, if it becomes law. Testimony in support of HB 984 was offered by Jorgen Schlemeier on behalf of David Humphrey of TAMKO. Testimony in opposition was presented by RELX, Inc. Testifying for information only was the Missouri Insurance Coalition. The committee took no action on the bill.

House Joint Resolution 19 (Black, R-Marshfield) would require amendments to the state’s Constitution to need approval from a simple majority of the votes cast, as well as a majority of votes cast in a majority of State Senate districts, in order to pass the amendment. Currently, amendments to the Constitution that have been placed on the ballot require approval from a simple majority of statewide votes cast to pass. HJR 19 was heard by the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee on Feb. 7. Witnesses who testified in support of HJR 19 included a Cape Girardeau County resident, Missouri Farm Bureau, Ron Calzone, and the Warren County Republican Committee. Witnesses in opposition were the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, Jobs For Justice Voter Action, League of Women Voters of Missouri, Arnie A.C. Dienoff, and Action St. Louis Power Project. The committee took no action on the bill.

The Senate Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety convened Wednesday morning to consider passage of SB 28, sponsored by Senator Justin Brown (R-Rolla). The bill provides that a minimum fee of $6 may be charged by the Missouri State Highway Patrol for a copy of patrol investigated traffic or boating accident. The Superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol may increase the minimum fee by no more than $1 every other year following August 28, 2024, and the minimum fee shall not exceed $10. After no discussion, the committee passed the bill by a 6-0 vote.

The Senate Committee on Local Government and Elections convened Monday afternoon to consider passage of SB 44, sponsored by Senator Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville). Currently, election authorities are required by the National Voter Rights Act of 1993 to go through voter rolls and check for accuracy. The bill provides an active process to ensure county clerks are abiding and reviewing voter rolls. After no discussion, the committee passed the bill by a 5-1 vote.

The Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee convened Monday to consider passage of 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 committee discussion, a committee substitute was adopted to modify the definition of immediate family to include adoptive, foster and unmarried family members. Additionally, the substitute adds prosecuting circuit attorneys and the word “enhancements” to streamline doxing statutes. Once modified, the committee passed the bill by a 6-0 vote.

The Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee convened Monday to consider passage of SB 103, sponsored by Senator Sandy Crawford (R-Buffalo). The bill 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 committee discussion, a committee substitute was adopted to include two members from two municipal courts to the Court Automation Committee. Once modified, the committee passed the bill by a 6-0 vote.

Senate Bill 174 (Koenig, R-Manchester) modifies public records and governmental meetings in various ways that weakens the initial law that’s been in Missouri statutes since 1973. The bill was heard Feb. 9 by the Senate Governmental Accountability Committee. The original SB 174 would have established “transitory records,” closing them to the public, and would have authorized closure of certain inter-agency or intra-agency memos or letters. Sen. Koenig, however, submitted a substitute bill to the committee that deleted those portions of the bill that related to “transitory records” and inter- or intra-agency records.

Those two issues are high on the list of concerns. While Missouri Press Association continues to oppose the original SB 174, representatives of MPA met with Sen. Koenig after the hearing and more changes to the bill are expected. Testifying during the hearing in favor of the bill were the Municipal League of Metropolitan St. Louis, the Missouri Municipal League, Missouri State Highway Patrol, and Missouri School Boards Association. Opposition to the bill was offered by Echo Menges, Gary Figgins, Chad Mahoney, Tom Sullivan, Elad Gross, and Jean Maneke. The witnesses in opposition represented the Missouri Sunshine Coalition, The Edina Sentinel, Missouri Broadcasters Association, and Missouri Press Association, and individuals who brought information to the committee of concerns they have faced with local government and local Sunshine issues.

SB 174 exempts any requests that include constituent contact information, and information regarding proposed legislation or the legislative process from the Missouri Sunshine Law. The bill adds GPS data of law enforcement as closed records, and health and mental health records of a constituent as closed records. Among the bill’s new exemptions to the Sunshine Law are: A public governmental body is authorized to close email addresses and telephone numbers submitted to a public governmental body; The closure of a portion of public records is allowed that are retained by the office of a member of the General Assembly that would identify a constituent of the member; Any record may be closed that is retained in the office of a member of the General Assembly that contains information regarding proposed legislation or the legislative process, unless the information is offered in a public meeting. Finally, a request for public records to a public governmental body shall be considered withdrawn if the requester fails to remit all fees within 30 days of a request for payment of the fees by the public governmental body. If the same or a substantially similar request for records is made within six months of the expiration of the 30-day period, then the public body can request payment of fees made for the original request. The committee took no action on the substitute bill.

The Senate Committee on Insurance and Banking convened Tuesday afternoon to discuss SB 187, sponsored by Senator Justin Brown (R-Rolla). 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. The Revenue Based Finance Coalition presented supporting testimony. There was no opposing testimony presented to the committee.

The Senate General Laws Committee convened Wednesday morning to discuss SJR 18, sponsored by Senator Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville). Upon voter approval, the resolution prohibits counties and political subdivisions from levying or collecting a tax on real property. In lieu of levying a tax on real property tax, the resolution imposes a 10% sales tax on the sale of real property. Additionally, the resolution imposes a 10% tax on any property purchased or currently owned. The sponsors intent with the legislation is to allow people to own their property without being taxed for the duration of ownership and to alleviate tax burdens. No supporting testimony was presented. A private citizen opposed the bill.

Floor Activity

The House dedicated floor time on Wednesday to debate HB 301, sponsored by Representative Lane Roberts (R-Joplin). The bill modifies and establishes provisions relating to public safety. Specifically, the language allows the Governor to appoint a special prosecutor in the City of St. Louis for a period of five years if the Governor determines that a threat to public safety and health exists in the City of St. Louis. The legislation as written applies to the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office and the sponsors intent with the legislation is to address crime by allowing a special prosecutor to be appointed by the governor for every 35 homicides per 100,000. During the bill’s progression through the committee process, the bill was amended to include several new provisions. Specifically:

  • creates the MO Special Prosecutor Appointment Committee, whose members will be elected by a secret ballot vote of the prosecuting and circuit attorneys of the state.
  • clarifies the ratio of homicide cases in jurisdictions and outlines the process and authority the Governor has to take in order to request a special prosecutor through the MO Special Prosecutor Appointment Committee.
  • requires the department of corrections to adopt a procedure to assist offenders on obtaining a birth certificate, social security card, or state identification before the offender is released.
  • currently, if a person is removed from their personal property, the department has some responsibility when a vehicle is left on the side of the road. The substitute extends the timeframe to 48 hours before a vehicle is impounded.
  • requires each circuit court and associate court to offer and utilize a treatment court program to address substance abuse disorders.
  • Specifies upon completion of the drug court program, any pending charges the defendant may have must be dismissed.
  • Requires that any person that arrested and is held in custody without a warrant, for a criminal offense involving a deadly weapon or dangerous felony must be released within 48 hours instead of 24 hours, unless they are formally charged with a creditable offense.
  • Modifies the Truth in Sentencing provision to add enhanced “success metrics” such as increased job training and substance abuse treatment options for offenders scheduled to be released.
  • If someone is charged with a non-violent crime and meets certain criteria a judge may consider alternative or lesser sentencing for the offender instead of mandatory minimums.
  • establishes the offense of an individual under a certain age cannot have a handgun in their possession that is readily capable of being discharged.
  • allows a school district to hirer security guards.
  • includes back the blue license plates provisions.

During debate, the sponsor further amended the bill to modify the conditions under which a special prosecutor may be appointed to high crime areas. Also included provisions that requires the Department of Corrections to help qualified recently released offenders apply for Medicaid benefits, and outlines the circumstances clarifying when judges may defer imposing mandatory minimums. During debate, Representative Rudy Veit (R-Wardsville) successfully amended the bill to include HB 389, which creates the offense of tampering with a judicial officer or their family members, and creates the offense of unlawful disclosure of personally identifiable information. Representative Ben Baker (R-Neosho) then amended the bill to remove the federal definitions of firearms and allow Missouri to create their own definitions. Lastly, Representative Mike Johnson (R-Kanas City) amended the bill to include Blair’s Law. Once modified, the House provided its first of two necessary approval votes. The House dedicated floor time Thursday morning to revisit HB 301. After no debate, the House passed the bill by a 109-35 vote. The bill now will be sent to the Senate for further consideration.

The Senate dedicated floor time Wednesday afternoon to debate SB 4, sponsored by Senator Andrew Koenig (R-Manchester). The bill establishes the “Parents Bill of Rights,” providing certain rights and expectations not to be denied to parents of school children. Additionally, the bill prohibits the use of the 1619 Project to teach race relations or the inclusion of Critical Race Theory within instruction or as a requirement for course completion and requires school districts to post curriculum, training, and instructional materials used for course completion online for parental review. Lastly, the legislation allows school districts to decide whether to allow student participation in athletic contests by gender based on public vote. During floor debate, the sponsor stated he has been working will interested parties and offered substitute language to provide for numerous changes, stating the language was a compromise. Specifically, the substitute requires cultural history in teacher training, clarifies parents will have two businesses days with the Parents Bill of Rights provisions when requesting information, and accounts for homelessness in regard to weighted average. During debate, several Senator’s expressed concern with the legislation and stated that it feels like public education teachers are under attack and the bill will place additional burdens on teachers. After about an hour of debate, the Senate provided its first of two necessary approval votes.

The Senate dedicated floor time Monday afternoon to debate SJR 3, sponsored by Senator Andrew Koenig (R-Manchester). Upon voter approval, the constitutional amendment places a 5.5% sales cap on the state income tax. Additionally, it 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. During floor debate, the sponsor successfully amended the resolution to provide a technical change. Once modified, the Senate provided its first of two necessary approval votes. The Senate dedicated floor time Thursday morning to revisit the resolution. After no debate, the Senate passed the bill by a 32-0 vote. The bill now will be sent to the House for further consideration.

Upcoming Hearings

House-Special Committee on Homeland Security
02/13/2023 12:00 PM
Committee Hearing, HR 5
HB1081 Schnelting – Modifies and establishes provisions relating to protecting a person’s privacy

House-Special Committee on Government Accountability
02/13/2023 12:00 PM
Committee Hearing, HR 7
HB762 Baker – Establishes provisions relating to reverse keyword and reverse location searches

Senate-Local Government and Elections
02/13/2023 1:00 PM
Committee Hearing, SCR 2
HJR43 Henderson – Modifies provisions for Constitutional Amendments
SB113 Hough – Repeals requirement that the Joint Committee on Legislative Research hold a public hearing on certified initiative petitions
SJR2 Koenig – Modifies provisions relating to initiative petitions
SJR5 Rowden – Raises the threshold for approving initiative petitions proposing constitutional amendments
SJR10 Crawford – Modifies the initiative petition process
SJR12 Cierpiot – Relates standard for initiative petitions to meet the single subject requirement
SJR28 Carter – Modifies the process for approving constitutional amendments

Senate-Fiscal Oversight
02/13/2023 1:30 PM
Committee Hearing, Senate Lounge
Executive Session:
SB4 Koenig – Modifies provisions regarding elementary and secondary education

Senate-Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence
02/13/2023 1:30 PM
Committee Hearing, SCR 1
SB36 Williams – Modifies provisions relating to expungement

House-Rules-Regulatory Oversight
02/13/2023 2:00 PM
Committee Hearing, HR 4
Executive Session:
HB268 Riley – Establishes the Regulatory Sandbox Act

02/13/2023 4:30 PM or upon adjournment
Committee Hearing, HR 7
HB444 Schnelting – Provides for the redaction of personal identifying information of minors and next friends from public court automation systems
Executive Session:
HB90 Veit – Modifies the expiration dates for provisions relating to court automation
HB984 Hicks – Establishes provisions relating to the disclosure of personal information

House-Elections and Elected Officials
02/14/2023 12:00 PM
Committee Hearing, HR 6
HB800 Christofanelli – Requires the Secretary of State to compile and post a list of school board members and terms on the Secretary’s website
HJR6 Kelley – Modifies provisions for the adoption of constitutional amendments
HJR28 Falkner – Modifies requirements for signatures required to propose a constitutional amendment
HJR29 Falkner – Modifies provisions for initiative petitions

Senate-Gubernatorial Appointments
02/15/2023 10:00 AM
Committee Hearing, Senate Lounge
Jeff Schrag, Republican, as a member of the Missouri State University Board of Governors (Hough)

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