|STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS
The Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee convened Monday afternoon to discuss SB 117, sponsored by Senator Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Parkville). The bill amends the law by requiring an injured party to act within two years of an injury instead of 5 years for personal and bodily injury and includes provisions relating to uninsured motorist coverage by requiring any action must be brought within ten years. Additionally, the bill provides that private contractors when acting within the scope of a government contract, has the same sovereign or government tort immunity as a public entity. During bill presentation, the sponsor informed committee members the bill would align Missouri with 23 other states and take out the bottom ranking where Missouri currently stands on the issue. MO Organization of Defense Lawyers, MO Hospital Association, MO Asphalt and Paving Association, MO Civil Justice Reform Coalition, Doctors Company, NFIB, Kansas City Chiefs, Associated Industries of MO, MO Chamber of Commerce, MB West Contracting, JR Quadri Contractors, AGC MP, MO Insurance Coalition, State Farm Insurance Companies, NFIB, MO Grocers Association, MO Retailers Association, American Tort Reform Association, BNSF Railway, The Doctors Company, and the Ford Motor Company provided supporting testimony. The MO Association of Trial Attorneys opposed the legislation.
SENATE APPROVES ETHICS COMMISSION APPOINTMENT
Among recent appointments by Gov. Mike Parson (R), receiving unanimous Senate approval on Jan. 26 is Robin Wheeler Sanders of Kansas City, who was appointed Aug. 12, 2022 to the five-member Missouri Ethics Commission. Ms. Sanders was introduced during a Jan. 25 Senate committee meeting by Sen. Barbara Washington (D-Kansas City). Ms. Sanders told the committee she is a person of integrity, she leads with passion and respect, and that rules of Missouri statutes should be followed with transparency. Ms. Sanders has served with Swope Health in Kansas City for the past 12 years, currently holding the position of chief people officer. Prior to her promotion, she was the vice president of human resources for Swope Health Services. Ms. Sanders has also served as a human resource manager at KMG Consulting, LLC and Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a Master of Business Administration from Rockhurst University. Ms. Sanders is a board member of SAFE, the surviving spouse and family endowment that provides funds for the families of fallen first responders, and a board member of TotalMan Community Development Corporation.
REFORMING THE INITIATIVE PETITION PROCESS
The House Elections and Elected Officials Committee convened Tuesday afternoon to discuss five bills that, in varying ways, all relate to initiative petition procedures. The proposed modifications vary from increasing the number of signatures required for an initiative petition to qualify for the ballot, to requiring a supermajority of voters to approve measures placed on the ballot by initiative petition rather than today’s simple majority, to requiring initiative petitions to be placed on the general election ballot. imposing fees in order to submit petitions. Representatives Mike Henderson (R-Bonne Terre), Ed Lewis (R-Moberly), and Bishop Davidson (R-Republic) presented HJR 43, HJR 30, HJR 18, HJR 24, and HJR25, respectively. The hearing continued throughout the day with several interested parties supporting and opposing various provisions of each proposal presented. Supporting testimony centered on the need to protect the Missouri’s Constitution from outside influence and special interest groups, stating complex issues should not be determined at the ballot box but should be vetted by the legislature. Opposing testimony focused largely on how the initiative petition process provides people the ability to make decisions on public policy issues and creates more interest in the political process which contributes to higher voter turnout and the resolutions would create unnecessary barriers for citizens.
The House Elections and Elected Officials Committee reconvened Thursday morning to consider passage of HJR 43, sponsored by Representative Mike Henderson (R-Bonne Terre). During committee discussion, a committee substitute was adopted to require a majority vote instead of a 2/3 vote in regard to statutory changes. Once modified, the committee passed the resolution by an 11-5 vote.
The committee then turned its attention towards HJR 30, sponsored by Representative Ed Lewis (R-Moberly). During committee discussion, a committee substitute was adopted to modify ballot language requirements. Once modified, the committee passed the resolution by an 11-5 vote.
Lastly, the committee considered passage of HJR 24 and HJR 25, sponsored by Representative Bishop Davidson (R-Republic). After no discussion, the committee passed both of the resolutions by an 11-5 vote.
House Bill 90 (Veit, R-Wardsville) 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. Additionally, the court fee collected for the Statewide Court Automation Fund is set to expire on September 1, 2023, the bill extends the expiration date to September 1, 2029. Finally, this bill 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. Hearing held January 23 in the House Judiciary Committee. The Missouri Supreme Court Clerk and Missouri Bar supported the bill and stated the fee was set in 1994 and a sunset on the filing fee would make any further automation impossible. Additionally, the CaseNet feature has received two billion hits since its inception, and without the fee general revenue would be needed to fill the gap. No opposing testimony was provided.
House Bill 268 (Riley, R-Springfield) The bill is the House companion to SB 3 (Hoskins, R-Warrensburg) 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. Hearing held January 25 in the House Economic Development Committee. Americans for Prosperity, Missouri Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Associated Industries of Missouri, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Next Missouri, and Cicero Action supported the bill. The Sierra Club of Missouri opposed the bill.
Senate Bill 44 (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. Hearing held January 23 in the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee. During bill presentation, the sponsor stated his intent with the legislation is to comply more efficiently with the requirements and provides due diligence with the voting process. Opportunity Solutions Project, Camden County Central Committee, and Missouri Canvassers supported the bill and stated this could ease the burden on county clerks’ maintenance of voter rolls. The Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, Health Forward Foundation, AARP, and League of Women Voters of Missouri opposed the bill and stated the bill, as written, could violate the national Voter Rights Act and could disproportionally affect low-income voters.
SS for Senate Bills 3 & 69 (Hoskins, R-Warrensburg) was amended in executive session and was voted “Do Pass” by the Senate Economic Development and Tax Policy Committee by a vote of 4-2 on Jan. 23. Senate Substitute for SB 3 & 69 establishes the “Regulatory Sandbox Act” which creates the Regulatory Relief Office within the Department of Economic Development (DED). SS SB 3 & 69 also includes the Right-To-Start Act which promotes and tracks state contracts with businesses that have been in operation less than three years and also establishes the Office of Entrepreneurship within the DED to promote entrepreneurs, including minority entrepreneurs. 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. 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.
Senate Bill 72 (Trent, T-Springfield) The proposed legislation establishes the “Judicial Privacy Act”, which provides restrictions on the use of a judicial officer’s personal information. Hearing held January 23 in the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. Circuit Judge Margaret Donnelly, Circuit Judge Dale Young, a Jackson County court clerk, the Missouri Bar, the Missouri Supreme Court and the Missouri Prosecutors Association testified in support. No opposing testimony was presented.