|Senate Bill 3 (Hoskins, R-Warrensburg) was heard by the Senate Economic Development and Tax Policy Committee on Jan. 17. SB 3 establishes the “Regulatory Sandbox Act” which creates the Regulatory Relief Office within the Department of Economic Development (DED). The Regulatory Relief Office shall administer the provisions of the bill with the purpose of identifying state laws or regulations that could potentially be waived or suspended for participating businesses during a 24-month period in which the participating business demonstrates an innovative product offering to consumers. During his presentation, Sen. Hoskins said the legislation would allow Missouri to become more attractive for new businesses. He said similar laws in Arizona and West Virginia have resulted in the development of new products.
One witness testified in opposition to SB 3, a representative of the Sierra Club citing environmental concerns. Witnesses who testified in support of SB 3 included Next Missouri, Associated Industries of Missouri, Americans for Prosperity, Missouri Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Cicero Action, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the City Council of Kansas City, United WE, NFIB-Missouri, and the Missouri Grocers Association.
Under SB 3, the Regulatory Relief Office shall create and maintain on the DED website a web page that invites residents and businesses in the state to make suggestions regarding laws and regulations that could be modified or eliminated to reduce the regulatory burden on residents and businesses.Included in the bill is transparency, suggested during the 2022 legislative session by the Missouri Press Association. Transparency issues addressed regard the identity of residents and businesses that make suggestions on the web site if they wish to comment publicly, annual reports to the governor, the General Assembly, and to each state agency with information regarding each participant in the sandbox program, most meetings and records of the advisory committee shall be considered as public meetings and records under the Sunshine Law except for those meetings and records that would reveal proprietary or confidential trade secrets, and incident reports involving a sandbox participant shall be publicly available on the regulatory sandbox web page except for proprietary information or confidential trade secrets, among other provisions.
The committee took no action on the legislation.
PARENTS’ BILL OF RIGHTS ACT OF 2023 LEGISLATION RECEIVES HEARING
Senate Bill 4 (Koenig, R-Manchester) and Senate Bill 89 (Ben Brown, R-Washington) are similar bills to create and modify provisions regarding transparency in elementary and secondary education. Both bills were heard jointly by the Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee on Jan. 18.
SB 4 creates the “Parents’ Bill of Rights Act of 2023,” to empower parents to enforce rights, as outlined in the bill, and to access records maintained by schools in which their children are enrolled. SB 4 requires the Commissioner of Education to establish the Missouri Education Transparency and Accountability Portal to provide citizens with access to every school district’s curriculum, textbooks, and syllabi. SB 4 prohibits any school from offering a course on Critical Race Theory in kindergarten through 12th grade, without actually defining CRT, but prohibiting teaching that individuals of any race, ethnicity, color, or national origin are inherently superior or inferior and that individuals, by virtue of their race, ethnicity, color, or national origin, bear collective guilt and are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by others.
SB 89 also creates the Missouri Education Transparency and Accountability Portal and the “Parents’ Bill of Rights Act of 2023.” If a school district is found to have violated provisions in SB 89, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) may withhold up to 50 percent of the state aid for that school district. Some comments pointed out that SB 89 lacks definitions of various words and phrases that weaken the bill.
Discussion during the two-hour committee hearing was quite serious between senators on the committee and was divided among the hearing’s witnesses. Those who testified in support of the legislation included Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R) who said he appreciates the two bills as he is a former educator and a parent.
Other witnesses in support of the legislation included the Show Me Institute, several parents supporting the portal for curriculum transparency, a representative of the Missouri Century Foundation, and two representatives of No Left Turn In Education-Missouri.
Witnesses in opposition to the bills included the Camdenton School District Board of Education president, two representatives of the Missouri Equity Education Partnership, a high school senior from John Burroughs School in St. Louis, a Japanese American senior from Ladue High School in St. Louis, the vice president of the Missouri Council for History Education, the NAACP of Missouri, Cultural Leadership in St. Louis, Dr. Eric Hahn, who is a high school history teacher of more than 35 years, a Jefferson City resident in opposition, the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis, and the National Education Association-Missouri. Information only testimony was presented by Americans for Equal Parity. The committee took no action on the legislation.