|COURT AUTOMATION FUND AND FEE WOULD EXTEND TO 2029
House Bill 90 (Veit, R-Wardsville) provides that any unexpended balance remaining in the Statewide Court Automation Fund shall be transferred to General Revenue on Sept. 1, 2029, rather than Sept. 1, 2023, as provided in current law. Also, the court fee collected for the Statewide Court Automation Fund shall extend to Sept. 1, 2029, rather than expiring on Sept. 1, 2023. Finally, this bill repeals the provision requiring the Court Automation Committee to complete its duties by Sept. 1, 2025, and repeals the expiration date for the provision establishing the Statewide Court Automation Fund and the Court Automation Committee. A House Committee Substitute for HB 90 was voted “do pass, consent” by the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 13-0 on Feb. 13. The substitute bill makes a minor change in the number of members on the Court Automation Committee.ESTABLISHES THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY JOBS ACT
The House Economic Development Committee convened Wednesday morning to discuss HB 133, and HB 583 sponsored by Representatives Brad Hudson (R-Cape Fair) and Michael O’ Donnell (R-St Louis), respectively. The bills are House companions to SB 170 sponsored by Senator Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) and establish 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. During bill presentation, the sponsors informed committee members that the legislation would create an economic benefit for the State. Gateway Studio and Production Services, MO Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Associated Industries of MO, City of Chesterfield, Branson Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, MO Citizens of the Arts, City of Kansas City, and The Pageant Delmar Hall of St. Louis supported the bill. Americans for Prosperity opposed the bill and informed committee members that in general they oppose any tax incentives and Missouri should be working towards helping all Missourians instead of certain industries.MINORS’ PERSONAL INFORMATION TO BE REDACTED ON CASENET
House Bill 444 (Schnelting, R-St. Charles) requires any court automation system, including a pilot project, to redact personal information of a minor and, if applicable, any next friend of the minor, if the court automation system provides public access to electronic records on the internet. HB 444 was heard by the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 13. Testimony in favor of HB 444 was presented by a St. Charles resident whose 11-year-old son’s personal information was on CaseNet. No testimony in opposition was offered. The committee took no action on the bill.RELEASE OF ANONYMOUS COMPLAINT
The House Children and Families Committee convened Tuesday morning to consider passage of HB 677, sponsored by Representative Ron Copeland (R-Salem). The bill allows for the release of the identity of a complainant by the Office of the Child Advocate in the case of an ongoing law enforcement investigation. After no discussion, the committee passed the bill by an 8-0 vote.
Representative Ben Baker appeared before the House Special Committee on Government Accountability Monday afternoon to present HB 762. This bill establishes the “Reverse Location and Reverse Keyword Search Prohibition Act”, which prohibits a government entity from seeking, and a court from issuing, a court order for a reverse location or reverse keyword search, nor shall any government entity make a voluntary reverse location or reverse keyword search request. During bill presentation, the bill sponsor informed committee members that the current law is a remnant of the old Patriot Act post-911. Albert Fox Cahn who is the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project’s (S.T.O.P.’s) founder and executive director and was also Yale law school fellow who authored the New York legislation that this bill is based on, and Nimrod Chapel who is the president of the NAACP Missouri chapter supported the bill. Derek Machens of the St Louis County Police Association and head of the criminal intelligence unit, and Cole County Prosecutor Locke Thompson opposed the bill and informed committee members that these searches are a tool of last resort and always flow from a specific incident, not just random collection. That removing this tool will result in the most heinous crimes going unsolved.
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS WOULD BE POSTED ON SOS WEBSITE
House Bill 800 (Christofanelli, R-St. Peters) was heard by the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee on Feb. 14. HB 800 would require the Secretary of State to compile and post on the state website an annual report on July 1 listing the name, school district, election date, and expiration of term for each school board member in Missouri. Rep. Christofanelli said his intent with the bill is to provide citizens with school transparency and said citizens are struggling with access to such information. When asked if the bill might be amended to instead require every school district to post such information about school board members, Rep. Christofanelli said there is no enforcement mechanism and some school districts do not have websites. He said the idea is his to require the Secretary of State to host the website. His bill would provide a centralized resource for the information, he said.
Testifying in support of HB 800 was Arnie A.C. Dienoff who suggested also posting the information on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s website and on the websites of county election authorities. And he suggested requiring posting statewide similar information of members of other boards, commissions, and districts, including the salary of members, if they are paid a salary. Also supporting the bill was a resident of O’Fallon, saying more options in transparency in schools are needed. Testifying in opposition to HB 800 was a resident of rural Missouri who is a candidate for her local school board, who said “transparency is a problem, but this doesn’t answer that problem.”
Testifying for information only were Trish Vincent, executive deputy Secretary of State, suggesting the office is willing to work with Rep. Christofanelli on the issue, and Brant Shields of the Missouri School Boards’ Association, saying the mosba.org website has information about how to run for the office of school board member and other information. The committee took no action on the bill.
EFFORTS MADE TO REMOVE SS NUMBERS, BIRTHDATES FROM CASENET
House Bill 984 (Hicks, R-Lake St. Louis) prohibits the public disclosure of confidential or any personal information contained in a court record. The bill was added to House Committee Substitute for HB 994, 52 & 984 and was voted “do pass” by the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 13-0 on Feb. 13.
If passed by the General Assembly, beginning Aug. 28, 2023, court records shall not include social security numbers, credit card numbers, personal i.d. numbers, or passwords used to secure an account, the full motor vehicle operator license numbers, victim or witness information including name, address, and other contact information of the victim or witness, any other full state identification numbers, names, addresses, and dates of birth of minors, and the full dates of birth of any individuals, however the years of birth shall be made available. The Missouri Supreme Court would promulgate rules to set the legislation in motion, if it becomes law.
Rep. Hicks told the committee the bill’s intent is to close such personal information from being posted on CaseNet. The bill does allow financial institutions, insurers, insurance support organizations, and 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.
The bill also creates the crime of tampering with a judge if a person distributes the judicial officer’s personal information through any means, including posting on the Internet. Personal information is defined 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. 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. If a violation of this results in death or bodily injury to a judicial officer or a family member, the offense is a class B felony.
The HCS which contains 19 new sections relating to judicial proceedings also establishes certain factors that must be considered when a judge sets bail, including whether a person is a flight risk and whether the person poses a danger to a victim or witness to a crime or a danger to the community. The judge must also consider whether the defendant has committed a violent misdemeanor offense, sexual offense, or felony offense in the last five years and whether the defendant has failed to appear in court as a required condition of probation or parole for a violent misdemeanor or felony or sexual offense within the last three years.
RECORDING PHONE CONVERSATIONS TO REQUIRE ALL PARTIES’ CONSENT
House Bill 1081 (Schnelting, R-St. Charles) amends provisions related to recording conversations and the unlawful tracking of motor vehicles. HB 1081 was heard by the House Special Committee on Homeland Security on Feb. 13. Currently, a phone call can be intercepted as long as one party to the conversation consents to the recording. Under this bill, all parties to the conversation must consent to the recording to be lawful. There are exceptions in the bill for law enforcement officers and others in some instances. HB 1081 also creates the offense of unlawful tracking of a motor vehicle, which a person commits if he or she knowingly installs, conceals, or otherwise places an electronic tracking device on a motor vehicle without the consent of all owners of the vehicle for the purpose of monitoring or following an occupant of the vehicle. The bill provides exceptions to the offense. Penalties are set for the offenses. An amendment is likely to allow a person to record a harassing phone call to a person. No testimony in support of HB 1081 was offered. Testimony in opposition was presented by the Missouri Prosecuting Attorneys Association with concerns that the bill’s language makes a simple conversation that’s recorded a class D felony. Testimony for information only was presented by the Missouri Office of Prosecution Services. The committee took no action on the bill.
SENATE COMMITTEE HEARS HJR 43 TO TOUGHEN CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES
House Joint Resolution 43 (Henderson, R-Bonne Terre), which must be approved by voters statewide to become effective, would require any Constitutional amendment to receive approval from at least 60 percent of statewide votes cast to pass. Any statutory measure would be approved by a simple majority of votes cast. HJR 43 which passed the House on Feb. 2 as a priority, was heard by the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee on Feb. 13. HJR 43 would require the Secretary of State to provide voters in each Congressional district with a period in which to review and comment upon all initiative petitions proposing Constitutional amendments at least 15 days before election day. And the resolution would require only U.S. citizens who are properly registered to vote in Missouri to be considered legal voters to cast ballots. Testimony in favor of HJR 43 was presented Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Soybean Association, and The Opportunity Solutions Project. Testimony in opposition to HJR 43 was offered by Jobs With Justice Voter Action, the Service Employees International Union, Sierra Club of Missouri, and Paraquad. The committee took no action on the bill.
The Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee convened Monday to discuss SB 36, sponsored by Senator Brian Williams (D -University City). The bill seeks to modify provisions related to expungements to provide a path for a second chance for individuals who have paid their debts to society. The Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the Office of Prosecutorial Services, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Dream.org, the NAACP, Building Community Bridges, the Missouri Catholic Conference, the Missouri Association of Defense Lawyers, and Missouri Appleseed testified in support. There was no testimony in opposition or for informational purposes.
BILL WOULD REPEAL REQUIREMENT FOR HEARINGS ON BALLOT MEASURES
Senate Bill 113 (Hough, R-Springfield) would repeal the requirement that the Joint Committee on Legislative Research must hold a public hearing in Jefferson City to take public comments concerning any proposed ballot measure within 30 days of the measure being certified for the ballot by the Secretary of State’s office. SB 113 was heard by the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee on Feb. 13. No testimony in favor of SB 113 was offered. Testimony in opposition to SB 113 was presented by Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, Paraquad, League of Women Voters of Missouri, a St. Louis County resident, and a Plattsburg resident. The committee took no action on the bill.
COMMERCIAL FINANCING DISCLOSURE ACT
The Senate Committee on Insurance and Banking convened Tuesday afternoon to consider passage of 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. During committee discussion, substitute language was adopted to provide technical changes. Once modified the committee passed the bill by a 7-1 vote.
SALES TAX REFUNDS
The Senate Economic Development and Tax Policy Committee convened Monday afternoon to discuss SB 203, sponsored by Senator Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove). The bill requires the Department of Revenue to authorize a sales tax refund to taxpayers in the event a judgement is ordered against the Department by the Administrative Hearing Commission for over-assessment or negligence in confirming the accuracy of information on the part of the Department, as revealed by an audit. During bill presentation, the bill sponsor explained that the Missouri Department of Revenue has the ability to collect sales and use tax assessment but does not have the authority to remit payment or refund for over-assessment and the legislation will provide the Department with authority to do so. There was no supporting or opposing testimony was presented during the hearing.
SENATE BILLS WOULD TIGHTEN PASSAGE OF INITIATIVE PETITIONS
The Senate Local Government and Elections Committee on Feb. 13 conducted lengthy hearings on five Senate Joint Resolutions that would make various modifications to the process of initiative petitions proposing state Constitutional amendments. The bills included SJR 2 (Koenig, R-Manchester), SJR 10 (Crawford, R-Buffalo), SJR 12 (Cierpiot, R-Lee’s Summit), SJR 17 (Brattin, R-Harrisonville), and SJR 28 (Carter, R-Granby).
While the five resolutions are not identical, they contain various new requirements such as: Only U.S. citizens who are registered to vote in Missouri would be permitted to vote on any initiative petition submitted to the people; Lowering or raising the threshold of signatures required on initiative petitions proposing Constitutional amendments; Requiring a simple majority of the total number of registered voters in the state for approval of the ballot measure; Requiring Constitutional amendments to be approved by at least two-thirds of votes cast; Requiring the Secretary of State to hold public forums at least 15 days prior to election in each Congressional district to review and take comments on any initiative petition proposing a Constitutional amendment;
Only U.S. citizens who are residents of Missouri and properly registered to vote shall be considered legal voters for purposes of collecting signatures or signing initiative petitions; Requiring all Constitutional amendments, whether proposed by initiative or by the General Assembly, that would impose or increase taxes or fees, or obligate the state to appropriate funds of $10 million or more in any of the first five fiscal years after enactment to be approved by at least 60 percent of the votes cast; Requiring that an initiative petition proposing a Constitutional amendment contain a single subject only if it does not extend beyond one sole purpose and only contains additions or changes that are necessary to effectuate a single legislative change; and any Constitutional amendment or new Constitution would take effect when approved by both a simple majority of the votes cast on the measure statewide and a simple majority of the votes cast in a majority of the State Representative districts.
Supporting the various measures with testimony were the Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Right To Life, Ron Calzone of Missouri First, Warren County Republican Committee, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, The Opportunity Solutions Project, Missouri Soybean Association. Testifying in opposition to the bills were Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, Missouri Realtors Association, attorney Dan Viets, Service Employees International Union, Mid Mo Patriots, two St. Louis County residents, League of Women Voters of Missouri, Paraquad, Jobs With Justice Voter Action, Missouri National Education Association, Fred Steinbach, former mayor of Chesterfield; Empower Missouri, National Council of Jewish Women of St. Louis, a resident from Plattsburg, Bob Johnson of Lee’s Summit, and the Sierra Club of Missouri. The committee took no action on the SJRs.