On Friday, May 12th at 6:00 pm the Missouri General Assembly concluded its 2023 regular legislative session. Just as years past, the session faced constant turmoil as the Republican Caucus in the Senate was factionalized and struggled to find consensus on numerous issues. In addition, the House and Senate leadership were at odds during the final weeks of the session on major issues such as education, taxation, and elections. In the end, the legislature passed 43 non-budget policy bills. An overview of bills of interest that were passed (“truly agreed to and finally passed”) and didn’t pass are included in this report.
Of the major items that passed, the main highlights were:
- Funding for Interstate 70, from 4 to 6 lanes across the state
- Funding for public education, K-12, and higher education
- Transgender legislation related to gender transformation procedures and women sports
- Public Safety and Crime legislation
- Medicaid postpartum coverage expansion for new mothers
- Exempting all state income tax for social security benefits
- Banning texting while driving
Major items that did not pass, include:
- Legalizing sports betting
- Initiative Petition reform
- Banning foreign ownership of agricultural property
- Elimination of the state corporate income tax and personal income tax cuts
- Education Reform, including educational scholarships, charter school expansion, and district-to-district transfers.
- Parents’ Bill of Rights (curriculum, critical race theory, and student information sharing)
- State takeover of the St. Louis Police Department
The Missouri General Assembly will return to Jefferson City on Wednesday, September 13th for its constitutionally mandated legislative veto session. All bills passed become effective on August 28, 2023, unless a specific effective date was included in the legislation.
The General Assembly will transmit all bills passed to the Governor’s office on May 30th and Governor Mike Parson will have 45 days to act. Thus, the Governor will act on bills by July 15, 2023.
FY 2023-2024 Budget Update
The General Assembly has passed and sent the FY 2023-2024 budget to the Governor for his review. The $50.7 billion budget (about $1.7 billion more than last year) includes ongoing state employees, pay increases for highway patrol troopers and direct care workers, and a large boost for higher education. The General Assembly budget is approximately $1.3 billion more than what the Governor proposed in January. He will now begin his review and has line-item veto authority if he is inclined to address certain budget items. Funding for libraries was restored and the diversity, inclusion and equity language in the House budget was removed.
Particular items include:
- $2.8B for expansion of I-70 to three lanes from outside KC to St. Louis ($1.4B GR and $1.4B bonding over 15 years)
- $25M for an environmental study on I-44 and U.S. 63
- $50M to improve safety at railroad crossings
- Fully funding the K-12 foundation formula
- Fully funding the K-12 transportation services-$233M
- $300M psychiatric hospital in KC
- Funding for construction projects on every college campus
- $45M health education project at St. Louis Community College
- $56M to expand pre-kindergarten programs
- $78M to increase child care subsidies
- $43M for a new veterinary lab
- $20M for a research slaughter house
- $30M to support veterans nursing homes
Truly Agreed to and Finally Passed
HOUSE BILL 447 — DUTIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION
This bill prohibits the disclosure of any personally identifiable information regarding any child receiving child care from a provider or applying for or receiving any services through a state program. This does not prohibit any state agency from disclosing personally identifiable information to governmental entities or its agents, vendors, and contractors relating to its official duties, nor does it prevent a parent or legal guardian from accessing their child’s records.
These provisions do not apply to any state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency acting in its official capacity.
SENATE BILL 20 – RETIREMENT
PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION CLOSED RECORDS
This bill provides that meetings, records, and votes may be closed to the extent that they relate to information submitted to a public institution of higher education regarding investments in or financial transactions with business entities for investment purposes.
SENATE BILL 28 – ACCESS TO CERTAIN RECORDS
OFFICE OF CHILD ADVOCATE
This bill authorizes the Office of Child Advocate to disclose information if the disclosure is at the request of law enforcement as part of an investigation.
RECORDS OF THE HIGHWAY PATROL
This bill provides that a minimum fee of $6 may be charged by the State Highway Patrol for any records request for a Missouri Uniform Crash Report or Marine Accident Investigation Report where there is an allowable fee of less than $6. Such $6 fee will be in place of the allowable fee of less than $6. The fee may be increased by no more than $1 every other year starting August 28, 2024 and the minimum fee must not exceed $10.
PERSONAL PRIVACY PROTECTION
This bill amends the “Personal Privacy Protection Act” to prohibit a public agency from releasing, publicizing, or otherwise publicly disclosing personal information in possession of the agency without the express, written permission of every individual who is identifiable as a financial supporter of a nonprofit organization. The bill also provides some exceptions to the prohibition, including: personal information that a person or non-profit entity submits or has previously submitted to a public agency for the purpose of seeking or obtaining a contract, grant, permit, license, benefit, tax credit, incentive, status or any other similar item; a disclosure of personal information among law enforcement agencies or public agency investigators pursuant to an active investigation; a disclosure of personal information voluntarily made as part of public comment, public testimony, pleading, or in a public meeting, or voluntarily provided to a public agency for the purpose of public outreach, marketing, or education to show appreciation for or in partnership with a non-profit entity; a disclosure of personal information to a labor union or employee association regarding employees in a bargaining unit represented by the union or association; or the collection or publishing of information contained in financial interest statement.
The bill specifies that any personally identifiable information regarding a child under 18 years old receiving child care from any provider or applying for or receiving services through a state program shall not be subject to disclosure except as otherwise allowed by law.
The bill also allows certain security measures, GPS data, investigative information, or investigative or surveillance techniques of a public agency responsible for law enforcement, and any information or data provided to a tip line for the safety and security of an educational institution, as well as other measures, to be closed records.
SENATE BILLS 45 & 90 – HEALTH CARE
This bill modifies several provisions relating to health care.
OFFICE OF CHILD ADVOCATE
Currently, the identity of a complainant or recipient shall not be disclosed by the Office of Child Advocate unless they or their legal representative consents or a court orders the disclosure. This bill permits disclosure of such identities if the Child Advocate determines that disclosure to law enforcement is necessary to ensure immediate child safety.
CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMATION OF CERTAIN CHILDREN
Any personally identifiable information regarding any child receiving child care from a provider or applying for or receiving any services through a state program shall not be subject to disclosure, except as described in the bill.
SENATE BILL 75 – RETIREMENT SYSTEMS
This act modifies provisions relating to retirement systems.
CONFIDENTIALITY OF INVESTMENT INFORMATION SUBMITTED TO PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
This act provides that meetings, records, and votes may be closed to the extent that they relate to information submitted to a public institution of higher education regarding investments in or financial transactions with business entities for investment purposes.
SENATE BILL 103 – JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS
JUDICIAL PRIVACY ACT
This act establishes the “Judicial Privacy Act”, which regulates the use of a judicial officer’s personal information.
Upon receiving a written request, a government agency, as defined in the act, shall not publicly post or display a judicial officer’s personal information in publicly available content, which includes documents or records that may be obtained by any person or entity, from the internet, upon request to the government agency, or in response to a request pursuant to the Missouri Sunshine Law or the federal Freedom of Information Act. A written request is a written or electronic notice signed by the judicial officer and submitted to the clerk of the Supreme Court of Missouri, or for a federal judicial officer to his or her clerk of the court, for transmittal to the government agency, person, business, or association.
After receiving a written request, the government agency shall remove the judicial officer’s personal information from publicly available content within five business days. After removal, the government agency shall not publicly post or display the information and such information shall be exempted from the Missouri Sunshine Law. If a government agency fails to comply, the judicial officer may bring an action for injunctive or declaratory relief. If the court grants injunctive or declaratory relief, the court may award costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. These provisions shall not apply to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
No person, business, or association shall publicly post or display on the internet a judicial officer’s personal information if the judicial officer has made a written request. Further, this act provides that no person, business, or association shall solicit, sell, or trade on the internet a judicial officer’s personal information for purposes of harassing, intimidating, or influencing a judicial officer in violation of the offense of tampering with a judicial officer or with the intent to pose an imminent and serious threat to the health and safety of the judicial officer or the judicial officer’s immediate family.
A person, business, or association shall have five business days to remove the judicial officer’s personal information after receiving a written request. Additionally, after receiving a request, the person, business, or association shall continue to ensure that the judicial officer’s personal information is not made available on any website controlled by such person, business, or association nor shall make the judicial officer’s personal information available through any medium. If a judicial officer’s personal information is made public in violation of this act, the judicial officer may bring an injunctive or declaratory action. If the court grants injunctive or declaratory relief, the person, business, or association responsible for the violation shall be required to pay the judicial officer’s costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.
No government agency, person, business, or association shall violate this act if the judicial officer fails to submit a written request. A written request shall be valid if the judicial officer sends the written request directly to a government agency, person, business, or association or files with the clerk of the Missouri Supreme Court or the clerk’s designee in compliance with the Missouri Supreme Court rules. Additionally, this act provides that the clerk of the court where the judicial officer serves may submit a written request on behalf of the judicial officer if the judicial officer gives written consent and the clerk furnishes a copy of that consent with the request.
Each calendar quarter, the clerk of the Supreme Court of Missouri shall provide a list of all state judicial officers who have submitted a request to the appropriate officer for each government agency and the officer shall promptly provide a copy to all agencies under his or her supervision. Receipt of the clerk’s written request list shall constitute a written request to the agency for purposes of this act.
A judicial officer’s written request shall specify what personal information shall be maintained as private and shall make a reasonable effort to identify specific publicly available content in possession of the government agency. Furthermore, a judicial officer shall disclose the identity of his or her immediate family and indicate that their personal information shall be also be excluded to the extent that it could reasonably reveal the judicial officer’s personal information.
A judicial officer’s written request is valid until the judicial officer provides written consent to release the personal information or upon death of the judicial officer. Additionally, this act shall not apply to disclosures on lobbyist activities and campaign finance as required by law.
Written requests transmitted to a county recorder of deeds shall only include information specific to eligible documents maintained by that county. Not more than five business days after receiving a written request, the recorder shall shield the eligible documents listed in the written request and shall electronically reply with a list of documents not found in the county’s records. In order to shield subsequent eligible documents, the judicial officer shall present a copy of his or her written request to the recorder at the time of recording and the recorder shall ensure that the eligible document is shielded within five business days. Eligible documents shall remain shielded until the recorder receives a court order or notarized affidavit signed by the judicial officer. No recorder shall be liable for any damages under this provision if the recorder made a good faith effort to comply and no recorder shall be liable for the release of eligible documents or data that was released or accessed prior to the document being shielded.
EXCLUSION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION OF MINORS IN COURT DOCUMENTS
This act also provides that beginning August 28, 2023, pleadings, attachments, or exhibits filed with the court in any case, as well as judgments issued by the court, shall not include any personal information of a minor and, if applicable, any next friend. However, such information shall be provided in a confidential filing sheet, which shall not be subject to public inspection or availability.
UNLAWFUL POSTING OF CERTAIN INFORMATION
Currently, the unlawful posting of certain information of any law enforcement officer, corrections officer, parole officer, judge, commissioner, or prosecuting attorney, or of any immediate family member of such person, that intends to or threatens to cause great bodily harm or death shall be a Class E felony. This act provides that if such unlawful posting of certain information that intends to or threatens to cause great bodily harm or death actually results in bodily harm or death to such person or immediate family member, the offense shall be a Class D felony.
DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION REGARDING CHILDREN
This bill prohibits the disclosure of any personally identifiable information regarding any child receiving childcare from a provider or applying for or receiving any services through a state program. This does not prohibit any state agency from disclosing personally identifiable information to governmental entities or its agents, vendors, and contractors relating to its official duties, nor does it prevent a parent or legal guardian from accessing their child’s records. These provisions do not apply to any state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency acting in its official capacity.
ELECTRONIC NOTIFICATION TO VICTIMS OF CRIME
Under current law, victims of certain crimes shall be notified by the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement of certain filings or status updates in the criminal case of which he or she is a victim. This act adds that the victim shall be notified by certified mail or by electronic mail.
DISCLOSURE OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
This bill specifies that specified court documents and records shall not include certain confidential and personal identifying information, described in the bill, such as victim or witness information, the full name, address, and birth date of a minor, and the full date of birth of any party; however, the year of birth must be made available. The information prohibited from being disclosed must be provided in a confidential information filing sheet filed with the court or by the court. This section allows for record validation for information used by a lender, insurer or consumer reporting agency.
HOUSE BILL 106 – PUBLIC HEALTH
DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION
This bill prohibits the disclosure of any personally identifiable information regarding any child receiving child care from a provider or applying for or receiving any services through a state program. This does not prohibit any state agency from disclosing personally identifiable information to governmental entities or its agents, vendors, and contractors relating to its official duties, nor does it prevent a parent or legal guardian from accessing their child’s records. These provisions do not apply to any state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency acting in its official capacity.
OFFICE OF CHILD ADVOCATE
Currently, the identity of a complainant or recipient shall not be disclosed by the Office of Child Advocate unless they or their legal representative consents or a court orders the disclosure. This act permits disclosure of such identities if the Child Advocate determines that disclosure to law enforcement is necessary to ensure immediate child safety.
SENATE BILL 157 – PROFESSIONS REQUIRING LICENSURE
This bill modifies provisions relating to professions requiring licensure.
COMPLAINTS AGAINST LICENSEES’ PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES
This bill specifies that the Board of Nursing Home Administrators must establish a procedure for handling complaints against licensees’ professional practices. The Board must investigate complaints and document the findings.
The Board can disclose complaints and investigatory reports if the disclosure is:
(1) In the course of voluntary interstate exchange of information;
(2) In accordance with a lawful request; or
(3) To other state or federal administrative or law enforcement agencies acting within the scope of their statutory authority.
All educational transcripts, test scores, and personal information pertaining to an applicant for a license or a licensee of the Board is also confidential and is only disclosed for the same reasons the investigatory reports are disclosed.
Deliberations, votes, or minutes of closed proceedings will not be subject to disclosure or discovery. Once an investigation is complete and a final disposition has been rendered, that decision will be made public.
This bill specifies that no person can practice as a nursing home administrator if his or her license is expired.
SENATE BILL 186 – PUBLIC SAFETY
FEES TO HIGHWAY PATROL
This bill provides that a minimum fee of $6 may be charged by the Missouri State Highway Patrol for any request where there are allowable fees of less than $6. The $6 fee shall be in place of any allowable fee of less than $6.
The Superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol may increase the minimum fee by not more than $1 every other year following August 28, 2024. The minimum fee shall not exceed $10.
OFFENSE OF TAMPERING WITH A JUDICIAL OFFICER
This bill provides that a person commits the offense of tampering with a judicial officer if the person disseminates through any means the judicial officer’s personal information as provided in the bill. Additionally, this bill provides a judicial officer shall include a judge or commissioner of state or federal court. If a judicial officer or a member of his or her family is injured or dies, the offense is a class B felony.
This bill provides that information on security measures, GPS data, data provided to a tip line, or information in a suspicious activity report provided to certain public entities shall be closed records.
SENATE BILLS 189, 36 & 37 – CRIMINAL LAWS
UNLAWFUL POSTING OF CERTAIN INFORMATION
Currently, the unlawful posting of certain information of any law enforcement officer, corrections officer, parole officer, judge, commissioner, or prosecuting attorney, or of any immediate family member of such person, that intends to or threatens to cause great bodily harm or death shall be a class E felony. This act provides that if such unlawful posting of certain information that intends to or threatens to cause great bodily harm or death actually results in bodily harm or death to such person or immediate family member, the offense shall be a class D felony.
EXPUNGEMENT OF CRIMINAL RECORDS
This act modifies provisions relating to the number of crimes a person may apply to have expunged from his or her record. A person may seek to expunge all crimes as part of the same course of criminal conduct or as part of an extended course of criminal conduct, subject to limitations as provided in the act.
Under current law, certain offenses, violations, and infractions are not eligible for expungement. This act adds that any offense that at the time of conviction requires registration as a sex offender is not eligible for expungement. Additionally, this act adds that the offenses, or successor offenses, of sexual conduct with a nursing facility resident in the second degree, use of a child in sexual performance, promoting a sexual performance of a child, or cross burning shall not be eligible for expungement.
This act changes provisions regarding any offense of unlawful use of weapons as not eligible for expungement to any “felony” offense of unlawful use of weapons is not eligible.
This act provides that a person may petition for expungement of crimes committed as part of an extended course of criminal conduct at least 10 years from the date of any sentence imposed under law.
This act repeals the provision that a court can make a determination at the hearing based solely on a victim’s testimony and adds that a court may find that the continuing impact of the offense upon the victim rebuts the presumption that expungement is warranted.
This act also changes the time a person can petition to expunge arrest record for an eligible crime from three years after the date of the arrest to 18 months from the date of the arrest.
This act provides that a person shall be fully restored to the status he or she occupied prior to the arrests, pleas, trials, or convictions expunged. Additionally, this act modifies provisions allowing a person to answer “no” to an employer’s inquiry about any arrests, charges, or convictions of a crime.
Finally, this act repeals provisions relating to the $250 surcharge to file a petition for expungement.
SENATE BILL 398 – MOTOR VEHICLES
This act enacts provisions relating to motor vehicles.
OPERATION OF MOTOR VEHICLES WHILE USING ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION DEVICES
This act repeals the current prohibitions against operation of motor vehicles while using hand-held electronic wireless communications devices, as defined by law, and enacts different prohibitions in lieu thereof.
The act creates the “Siddens Bening Hands Free Law”, which prohibits a number of uses of electronic communication devices while operating motor vehicles, as detailed in the act, as well as provides exceptions.
The act specifies penalties for violations of these provisions, including enhanced penalties for repeat offenders, violations occurring in a work zone when workers are present, violations occurring in a school zone, and violations that are the proximate cause of property damage, personal injury, or death.
Law enforcement officers who stop a noncommercial motor vehicle for a violation of these provisions shall inform the operator of the operator’s right to decline a search of their device, and shall not access the device without a warrant or confiscate the device while awaiting issuance of a warrant.
Violations of these provisions shall not be used to establish probable cause for any other violation, and the provisions of the act shall be subject to racial bias reporting as required by law.
This act preempts local regulation of the use of electronic communication devices by the operators of vehicles.
Prior to January 1, 2025, a law enforcement officer who stops a noncommercial motor vehicle for a violation of these provisions shall not issue a citation for the violation, and shall only issue a warning.
No person shall be stopped, inspected, or detained solely for a violation of these provisions.
Did Not Pass
DRONE SURVEILLANCE LEGISLATION – DID NOT PASS
House Bill 178 and House Bill 179 sponsored by Rep. Dean Van Schoiack, R-Savannah), and House Bill 401 sponsored by Rep. Mike Hafner, R-Pleasant Hill), were voted do pass from the House Special Committee on Homeland Security on Jan. 30. These bills passed the Missouri House but did not receive any action in the Senate.
All 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.
REGULATORY SANDBOX ACT – DID NOT PASS
House Bill 268, sponsored by Representative Alex Riley (R-Springfield), and Senate Bill 3, sponsored by Senator Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg), provide 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. This legislation has been filed over the past three sessions and has passed the House and Senate in varying forms. This bill was included as an amendment in several bills during the final weeks of the 2023 session but did not ultimately reach the Governor’s desk.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM – DID NOT PASS
House Bill 272, sponsored by Representative Alex Riley (R-Springfield), and Senate Bill 117, sponsored by Senator Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Parkville), amend the existing law by requiring an injured party to act within two years of an injury instead of five years for personal and bodily injury. The sponsor informed the committee his intent with the legislation is to allow those injured to have their claims settled faster. Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Hospital Association, NFIB, Missouri Retailers Association, Missouri Grocers Association, United States Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Missouri Association of Campgrounds and RV Parks, American Tort Reform Association, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Insurance Coalition, Enterprise Leasing of St. Louis LLC, Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers, Associated Industries of Missouri, American Property Casualty Insurance Association, and Missouri Civil Justice Reform Coalition provided supporting testimony stating this would ensure a swift end to claims and allow claimants to receive settlements more quickly. The Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys and private citizens provided opposing testimony stating it often takes longer than two years to fully understand the total amount of injuries and this only serves to protect defendants of claims.
House Bill 272 was voted out of the House General Laws Committee and House Rules Committee but did not receive any consideration on the House floor. Senate Bill 117 was debated on the Senate floor and faced a significant bipartisan filibuster.
CAMERAS ON PRIVATE PROPERTY – DID NOT PASS
House Bill 335, sponsored by Representative Mitch Boggs (R-LaRussell), relates to the use of cameras on private property. Current law prohibits state agency employees from placing surveillance or game cameras on private property without consent from the landowner, a warrant, or the permission of the highest-ranking law enforcement chief or officer of the agency. The bill removes the ability of the highest-ranking law enforcement chief or officer to approve placing a surveillance or game camera on private property. This legislation had a House Committee hearing and did not advance.
DELIQUENT LAND TAX NOTICES – DID NOT PASS
House Bill 344, sponsored by Representative Mike McGirl (R-Potosi), allows county collectors in counties without a newspaper to post delinquent tax notices in the courthouse or on the county website as alternative to publishing such notice in a newspaper. The Missouri County Collectors Association, St. Charles County Collector, and the Macon County Collector supported the bill. No opposing testimony was presented. The MO Press Association provided informational testimony and informed committee members that there is currently a newspaper in every county. In committee, an amendment was added to the bill allowing a county planning board to post a hearing notice on the county’s website and publish the notice in a newspaper in the county. This bill was voted out of the House Rules Committee but was not debated on the House floor. This language was later added to legislation by amendment but did not reach final passage.
MEDIA LITERACY, CRITICAL THINKING ONLINE BEHAVIOR – DID NOT PASS
House Bill 492, sponsored by Representative Jim Murphy (R-St. Louis), requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a two-year “media literacy and critical thinking” pilot program in five to seven school districts across the state beginning in the 2024-25 school year. The purpose of the pilot program will be to allow DESE to develop course curriculum which promotes an individual’s ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and participate in all forms of media with an emphasis on appropriate online behavior. The Missouri Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, iCivics, and the Missouri Library Association testified in support. There was no opposing or informational testimony. HB 492 was voted “do pass” from the House Education Committee and the House Rules Committee but was not placed on the House floor calendar for consideration.
STATUTORY CHANGES FOR INITIATIVE PETITION PROCESS – DID NOT PASS
House Bill 703 (Mike Haffner, R-Pleasant Hill) made various statutory changes to the initiative and referendum petition process. The legislative changes affected 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 the content of the official ballot title, signatures collected prior to the court order shall be invalidated. The bill deleted the current requirement of the Joint Committee on Legislative Research to hold a public hearing on petition summaries. The bill was third read and passed 109-49 by the House on April 6, referred to the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee, but died.
ANTI- SLAPP LAWSUITS – DID NOT PASS
House Bill 750, sponsored by Representative Chad Perkins (R-Bowling Green), establishes the Uniform Public Expression Protection Act. This establishes procedures for motions to dismiss for anit-slapp lawsuits. The bill specifies under which circumstances a court may award costs, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and reasonable litigation expenses. The bill will only apply to civil actions filed on or after Aug. 28, 2023. The Missouri Press Association, Missouri Broadcasters Association, The Motion Picture Association, American Civil Liberties Union, Institute for Free Speech, and Americans for Prosperity provided supporting testimony in committee stating this legislation has passed in numerous states and helps ensure courts are not filled with frivolous lawsuits. This legislation was passed out of the House Judiciary Committee and was later added by House amendment to Senate Bill 72. The legislation was included in the Conference Committee Report for SB 72, but the bill was not taken up in the final hours of the session. This legislation did not reach final passage, but it was the closest this issue has been in several years to reaching the Governor’s desk.
ADVERTISMENT FOR STATE BIDS – DID NOT PASS
House Bill 752, sponsored by Representative Jeff Knight (R-Lebanon), repeals requirements that the Office of Administration publicize bids for state contracts in newspapers. During committee discussion in their executive session, substitute language was adopted to include compromise language agreed to by the Office of Administration and the Missouri Press Association, requiring one notice in newspapers and on websites on certain state contracts that exceed $100,000. Additionally, the substitute added provisions from HB 400, which allows the posting of delinquent taxes be posted in newspapers for one week and then posted in county courthouses and county websites for two consecutive weeks and HB 344, which requires delinquent land, and lots be posted on county websites or in county courthouses for three weeks if no local newspaper or publication is available. Once modified, the committee passed the bill by a 7-5 vote. This legislation was later passed by the House Rules Committee but was not placed on the House floor calendar. This language was later added as an amendment by the House to a Senate bill, but it did not reach final passage.
NEWSPAPER PUBLIC NOTICES – DID NOT PASS
House Bill 782 (Peggy McGaugh, R-Carrollton) would have changed the eligibility of newspapers to publish public notices. Currently, to qualify as a newspaper legally to run public notices, a newspaper must have been published regularly for a period of three years, or must be the successor newspaper to a shut-down newspaper and begin publication no later than 30 days after the prior newspaper terminated. The bill would reduce the time period of regular publication from three years to one year and increase the time period from 30 days to 90 days within which a successor newspaper must begin publication. The bill also allows a newspaper that has been purchased or newly established by another newspaper that satisfies these conditions to qualify. This bill was third read and passed in the House by a vote of 132-5. This bill was passed by the Senate General Laws Committee and ultimately ran out of time and did not reach final passage in the Senate.
AUTOMATIC RENEWAL CONTRACTS – DID NOT PASS
House Bill 1029, sponsored by Representative Philip Oehlerking (R-Ballwin), requires clear information and any costs to consumers be made in writing by businesses that make automatic renewals before any payments for goods or services may be collected. This will include any price changes after initial free trials or gifts. The bill also requires businesses to provide consumers with a concise, easy-to-use way to cancel services or automatically renew services. Finally, the Attorney General will have all the powers, rights and duties relating to any business which violates these provisions. The committee did not take a vote on HB 1029.
PUBLIC NOTICES ON SECRETARY OF STATE’S WEBSITE – DID NOT PASS
House Bill 1118, sponsored by Representative David Casteel (R-High Ridge), provides that any notice required by law to be published in a newspaper instead must be published on the Secretary of State’s website. The Secretary of State must develop procedures for submission of the notices and create a specific page on its website that will contain all the notices in a searchable format. The sponsor’s intent with the legislation is to save counties money and modernize the current way of providing public notices. The bill received a public hearing in the House Government Oversight Committee with testimony in opposition by the Missouri Press Association. The committee did not vote on the bill, and the bill died in committee.
DELETING NEWSPAPER NOTICES FROM SELF STORAGE AUCTIONS – DID NOT PASS
House Bill 1120 (Bill Hardwick, R-Waynesville) would modify requirements of the public notice for sale by an operator of a self-service storage facility for the auction of personal property of an occupant in default. The legislation would allow a storage facility operator to advertise in the classified section of a newspaper prior to sale, OR the operator may instead advertise in any other commercially reasonable manner such as online. The advertisement is “commercially reasonable” if at least three independent bidders attend the sale. The Storage Mart representative testified that last year at 132 property auctions, no one attended the auctions, and they lost an average of $600 per auction. Missouri Press Association testified that posting notices on a website notifies no one.
HB 1120 was passed by the House on a vote of 135-20. The language was later added to several bills that did not reach the Governor’s desk. A Senate companion was filed by Senator Justin Brown (R-Rolla) as SB 460. This is the third year such bills have been filed.
INITIATIVE PETITION REFORMS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS – DID NOT PASS
Numerous bills in the House and the Senate were introduced to make it more difficult to change the state’s Constitution through the initiative petition process. The House conducted its first floor debate on House Joint Resolution 43 (Henderson, R-Bonne Terre) on Feb. 1. HJR 43 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. When HJR 43 reached the Senate, the percentage of voter approval was lowered to 57 percent required to change the Constitution. In the last few days of the legislative session, the Senate became tied up and did not pass the conference committee report on HJR 43, although the House did pass the CCR. HJR 43’s other provisions 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. We fully expect this issue to return in 2024 and be a major issue.
PARENTS BILL OF RIGHTS – DID NOT PASS
Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Senator Andrew Koenig (R-Manchester), 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. The House and Senate struggled to find common ground on education issues during the 2023 session and this legislation failed. We fully expect to see this issue return in 2024.
CREATING STATE’S CHIEF DATA OFFICER – DID NOT PASS
Senate Bill 7, sponsored by Senator Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) creates the position of chief data officer within the Office of Administration who is authorized to oversee each state agency’s management of electronic data for purposes of evaluating appropriate management and security of the data. The chief data officer may require each state agency to classify its electronic data into levels of sensitivity; develop and update written policies for responding to data breaches; develop, adopt, and update written policies for the proper disposal of electronic data; and other management and security provisions of agencies’ electronic data. This bill did not reach final passage this session.
DELETING NOTICES FROM DELINQUENT TAX SALES – DID NOT PASS
House Bill 400 (Mike McGirl, R-Potosi) provided an alternative to posting the delinquent property tax notices from the currently required three consecutive weeks of printing in a newspaper published in the county, to one week of printing in a newspaper published in the county during the third calendar week before the delinquent tax sale, and then two consecutive weeks of posting on the county’s website and in the county’s courthouse. The bill passed the House in early May but died in a Senate committee.
IN COUNTIES WITHOUT A NEWSPAPER – DID NOT PASS
House Bill 344 (Mike McGirl, R-Potosi) provided that in counties without a newspaper of general circulation, the county collector would post a copy of the list of delinquent lands and property on the county’s website or in the county’s courthouse in an area viewable by the public for three consecutive weeks before the sale of properties due to delinquent taxes. The bill was voted out of a House committee but did not make it to the House floor. Currently, no county in Missouri is without a newspaper.
SUNSHINE LAW – DID NOT PASS
Senate Bill 174 (Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester) would have modified public records and governmental meetings in various ways that would weaken the Sunshine Law that’s been in Missouri statutes since 1973. Although the bill was voted “do pass” by the Senate Governmental Accountability Committee on Feb. 23, it never was debated on the Senate floor, and it died. Missouri Press Association had several meetings with Senator Koenig who was willing to make some changes in the bill, possibly next year.
CLOSING LIFEGUARDS’ IDENTITY – DID NOT PASS
Rep. Bill Falkner (R-St. Joseph) amended the following Sunshine Law exemption to Senate Bill 222 (Curtis Trent, R-Springfield), however the bill did not pass. This exemption would have closed records of young people who, for instance, work as lifeguards at municipal swimming pools: “(26) Any portion of a record that contains individually identifiable information of any person who registers for a recreational or social activity or event sponsored by a public governmental body, if such public governmental body is a city, town, or village.”
SIGNIFICANT MISSOURI SUNSHINE LAW MODIFICATIONS – DID NOT PASS
Senate Bill 174, sponsored by Senator Andrew 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 voted “do pass” by the Senate Governmental Accountability Committee by a vote of 4-2 on Feb. 23. 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. However, the substitute deleted portions of the bill that related to “transitory records” and inter- or intra-agency records.
Among some of the changes in the substitute bill: A public governmental body must react to a public records request within four days (currently three days). A request for public records to a public governmental body shall be considered withdrawn if the requester fails to remit all fees within 60 days (currently 30 days) of a request for payment of the fees by the public governmental body. If the requested fees are greater than $1,000, then the request shall be considered withdrawn if the requester fails to remit all fees within 120 days. If the same or a substantially similar request for records is made within six months of the expiration of the 60-day period, then the public body can request payment of fees made for the original request.
SB 174 was passed from committee and was not placed on the Senate floor calendar. No amendment was offered in the House or Senate during the final weeks of the legislative session and the language did not become law.
CRONKITE NEW VOICES ACT – DID NOT PASS
Senate Bill 440, sponsored by Senator Barbara Washington (D-Kansas City) establishes the Cronkite New Voices Act, which states that a student journalist has the right to practice freedom of speech and press in school-sponsored media in both public high schools and public institutions of higher education. SB 440 was passed by a vote of 3-1 from the Senate Progress and Development Committee and the bill ultimately died on the Senate floor calendar.