|HOUSE BILLS TARGET DRONES, UNMANNED AIRCRAFT
House Bill 178 and House Bill 179 (Van Schoiack, R-Savannah) and House Bill 401 (Haffner, R-Pleasant Hill) were heard by the House Special Committee on Homeland Security on Jan. 30. The three bills are similar, specifying that a person commits the offense of unlawful use of an unmanned aircraft or drone if they launch, land, or operate an unmanned aircraft on private property, on farms, or an open-air facility such as a sports stadium, or within a vertical distance of 400 feet from the ground within a private property line, without permission from the property owner. Unmanned aircraft operated by officials associated with public and private utilities and electric cooperatives; federally certified pilots; law enforcement or public safety departments; fire departments or fire protection districts; the Federal Railroad Administration; Realtors and land surveyors; and insurance companies are exempt from the provisions of the legislation. HB 401 also does not prohibit drones used by a Missouri-based higher education institution conducting specified educational, research, or training programs or used by any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces or the National Guard. The legislation makes the offense of unlawful use of an unmanned aircraft a class A misdemeanor. Witnesses who testified in support of the three bills included the Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Association of Missouri Realtors, the Kansas City Chiefs Football Club, Missouri Railroad Association, and Missouri Broadband Providers. No witnesses testified in opposition. The committee took no action on the bills.
INITIATIVE PETITION CIRCULATORS WOULD NEED TO BE REGISTERED VOTERS
House Bill 780 (McGaugh, R-Carrollton) would require persons circulating initiative and referendum petitions to be registered voters of Missouri. HB 780 was heard by the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee on Feb. 2. The bill is expected to be changed. McGaugh told the committee she would be amending the “registered voter” requirements because U.S. court cases have found requiring a signature collector to be a registered voter violates that person’s rights. Witnesses who testified in support of HB 780 included the Missouri Farm Bureau because it is opposed to out-of-state persons coming to Missouri to collect voters’ signatures. Witnesses in opposition to the bill included the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, Jobs for Justice Voter Action, and Arnie A.C. Dienoff. The committee took no action on the bill.
INITIATIVE PETITION REFORM CLEARS HOUSE COMMITTEE
HCS for House Joint Resolution 18 (Lewis, R-Moberly) was voted “do pass” by the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee by a vote of 12-3 on Feb. 2. HCS HJR 18 would require initiative petitions to receive signatures from 8 percent of voters and 5 percent of voters from all Congressional districts for Constitutional amendments and statutory changes, respectively, to be placed on the ballot. HCS HJR 18 would require all initiative petitions to receive approval from a majority of votes cast statewide and a majority of votes cast in at least five of the eight U.S. Congressional districts. Also, this resolution would require initiative petitions proposing Constitutional amendments to be placed on a general election ballot unless the General Assembly calls a special election for that purpose. And, the resolution allows only U.S. citizens properly registered to vote in Missouri to be considered legal voters.
FEE FOR HIGHWAY PATROL CRASH REPORTS GOES TO $6, THEN HIGHER
Senate Bill 28 (Brown, R-Rolla), House Bill 443 (Marquart, R-Washington), and House Bill 601 (Knight, R-Lebanon) are identical bills that allow a minimum fee of $6 to be charged by the State Highway Patrol for any request for a Missouri Uniform Crash Report or Marine Accident Investigation Report. The superintendent of the Highway Patrol may increase the minimum fee by not more than $1 every other year after Aug. 28, 2024. The minimum fee shall not exceed $10. SB 28 was heard by the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee on Feb. 1. HB 443 and HB 601 were heard by the House Transportation Infrastructure Committee on Feb. 1, also. The increased fees would pay within the next three months for system and technology improvements for accessing such records. Witnesses who testified in support of the legislation included the State Highway Patrol and the Missouri Insurance Coalition. No witnesses in opposition. The committees took no action on the bills.
HOMELESS YOUTHS’ FEES WAIVED FOR DRIVER’S LICENSES FOR I.D.
Senate Bill 47 (Gannon, R-DeSoto) modifies provisions relating to driver’s license fees charged by the Department of Revenue. SB 47 was heard by the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee on Feb. 1. The legislation would exempt homeless children, homeless youths, and unaccompanied youths from paying fees to obtain his or her first nondriver identification card and exempt such persons from paying fees for an intermediate driver’s license for identification purposes. For the fee to be waived, the minor’s status must be verified by a governmental or nonprofit agency, local school, social worker, counselor, or by an attorney representing the youth. Witnesses who testified in support of SB 47 included Kids Win Missouri and Foster Adopt Connect. No witnesses in opposition. The committee took no action on the bill.
SHOW MO ACT SEEKS TO ATTRACT FILM PRODUCTION IN MISSOURI
Senate Bill 52 (Eslinger, R-Wasola), Senate Bill 58 (Beck, D-St. Louis), Senate Bill 67 (Mosley, D-Florissant) and Senate Bill 94 (Hoskins, R-Warrensburg) were heard by the Senate Economic Development and Tax Policy Committee on Jan. 30. SB 52, SB 58, SB 67 and SB 94 create the “Show MO Act” to reauthorize a tax credit for certain expenses related to the production of qualified motion media production projects in Missouri, as defined in the legislation. Tax credits for such expenses under previous law expired in 2013. (The title of SB 67 is “Show Missouri Film and Digital Media Act.”) The legislation, beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2023, authorizes a tax credit equal to 20 percent of qualifying expenses, as defined, associated with the production of a qualified motion media production project in Missouri. Additional tax credits may be awarded if certain conditions are met, including what percentage of the film is produced in Missouri, in rural or blighted areas, Missouri residents are hired, among others. The total amount of tax credits authorized by the act shall not exceed $8 million for film production and shall not exceed $8 million for series production. The Act shall sunset on Dec. 31, 2029 or on Dec. 31, 2031 (SB 58), unless reauthorized by the General Assembly.
On Feb. 1, the House Economic Development Committee heard House Bill 169 (Seitz, R-Branson), House Bill 239 (Smith, R-Dora) and House Bill 675 (Gregory, R-Marshall), three bills with similar tax credit authorizations as the senate bills. Witnesses who testified in support of the House and Senate legislation included Associated Industries of Missouri; Film in MO; two television and film producers from St. Louis and Hollywood; Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry; a film commissioner from the Kansas City Film Office; Hallmark Media Enterprise; Branson-Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce; City of Kansas City; and City Council of Kansas City. Witnesses who opposed: Americans For Prosperity. The committees took no action on the bills.
STATEWIDE COURT AUTOMATION FUND
The Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 103 (Crawford, R-Buffalo) on January 30. 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 bill presentation the sponsor stated her intent to submit a substitute for the bill adding 2 members to the committee. Testifying in support were Associate Circuit Judge from Chariton County and Chair of the Missouri Court Automation Committee Andrea Vandeloecht; Patricia Churchill, Judicial Conference of Missouri; St. Louis County; and the Missouri Bar. No testimony in opposition.
TAX EXEMPTION FOR CHILDCARE FACILITIES
The Senate Fiscal Committee convened Thursday morning to discuss SB 151 (Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit). The bill exempts from property tax all real and personal property used primarily for the care of a child outside of his or her home. The legislation shall only become effective upon the passage and approval by the voters of a constitutional amendment permitting a property tax exemption for real and personal property used primarily for the care of a child outside of his or her home. Campaign Life Missouri, Missouri Chamber of Commerce, City of Kansas City, Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, United WE and the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce testified in support. There was no testimony in opposition of for informational purposes.
The Senate Committee on Fiscal Oversight also considered SJR 26 (Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit) Thursday morning. Upon voter approval, the resolution would exempt personal, or business property used for the purpose of operating a childcare facility from taxation. After no discussion, the committee passed the bill by a 7-1 vote.
STATE INCOME TAX CEILING
Senate Joint Resolution 3 (Koenig, R-Manchester) was voted “do pass” by the Senate Economic Development and Tax Policy Committee by a vote of 5-0 on Jan. 30. SJR 3 is a constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters statewide, would prohibit the General Assembly from setting a state income tax rate exceeding 5.5 percent. SJR 3 also modifies a provision prohibiting sales taxes levied on transactions not taxed as of Jan. 1, 2015, except for sales and use taxes on subscriptions, licenses for digital products, and online purchases of tangible personal property.