The House of Representatives ran two marathons this week. On Tuesday, members spent more than nine hours into the early evening perfecting 15 bills for the state’s FY2023 budget. Then on Wednesday, they took up 29 bills during another marathon, perfecting 12 bills and sending another 17 bills to the Senate after final passage. On Thursday, the House spent more than three hours again debating the 15 budget bills, then sending those bills to the Senate for its actions. The House budget leaves $1.8 billion in general revenue funds, unspent. The FY2023 budget must be finally approved by the General Assembly by Friday, May 6.
On Wednesday during the afternoon and late into the night, the Senate was tied up due to a bipartisan filibuster debate on tort reform. Approaching midnight, Sen. Dan Hegeman, the sponsor of the bill, pulled the bill and the Senate’s night ended. The Senate passed a handful of consent bills and sent a few other bills to the House this week.
START OF BASEBALL SEASON ACKNOWLEDGED BY HOUSE
On Thursday morning, the House waived a rule and allowed members to wear jerseys under their suitcoats and wear sneakers and hats in the House chambers. It marked the first day of the 2022 Major League Baseball season. Many Red colors and some Blue hues were seen in support of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals. House members voted 113-10 to show their colorful support of their favorite teams. And Speaker of the House Rob Vescovo prominently displayed a “Go Cards” sign on the front of the speaker’s dais in the chamber.
House Bill 1606 (McGaugh, R-Carrollton) requires a condensed county financial statement to be published annually, on or before June 30, in local newspapers in all counties of the first, second, third, or fourth classification. The bill was heard by the Senate Local Government Committee on April 6. The bill language includes publication of the name and current gross annual salary of each elected or appointed county official. The county clerk or other county officer preparing the financial statement shall provide an electronic copy of the data used to create the financial statement without charge to the newspaper requesting the data. The bill’s language has been negotiated with legislators and supported by the Missouri Press Association and its membership during the past three years. Testimony in favor of the bill was presented by the Missouri Association of Counties, the Missouri Association of County Auditors, and the Missouri Press Association. No opposing testimony was offered. The committee took no action on the bill.
House Bill 1633 (Morse, R-Dexter) Currently, political subdivisions that fail to submit the required annual financial statement to the State Auditor are fined $500 a day. The bill reduces the fine to an amount of not more than 10% of the total sales and use tax revenue of the fiscal year for which the annual financial statement was not filed for municipalities with fewer than 3,500 inhabitants. Hearing held April 6 in the House Financial Institutions Committee. No supporting or opposing testimony was presented during the hearing.
House Bill 1996 (Hovis, R-Whitewater) Currently, design-build projects include non-civil works projects, such as buildings, site improvements, and other structures, habitable or not, commonly designed by architects in excess of $7million. The bill removes the $7 million limitation. Hearing held April 7 in the House Economic Development Committee. No supporting testimony was presented to the committee. The American Institute of Architects Missouri Chapter, American Council of Engineering Companies Missouri Chapter, and AGC of Missouri opposed the bill and urged committee members to include all stakeholders in any ongoing discussions before the legislation moves forward and stated the $7 million cap was included for a reason.
House Bill 2083 (Porter, R-Montgomery City) provides that the State Highway Patrol may charge a minimum fee of $5 for any records request where there are currently allowable fees of less than $5. The superintendent of the Patrol may increase this minimum fee by no more than $1 every two years beginning on Aug. 28, 2023. This minimum fee shall not exceed $10. Also, a request for public records to the Patrol shall be considered withdrawn if the requester fails to pay all required fees within 30 days of a request for payment. HB 2083 was heard by the House Transportation Committee on April 6. Supporting testimony by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri Insurance Coalition, and the Department of Public Safety. The committee took no action on the bill.
House Bill 2502 (Houx, R-Warrensburg) The bill seeks to legalize sports betting in Missouri. Hearing held April 6 in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The STL Cardinals, MO Sports Team Coalition, Penn National, Sports Betting Alliance, St. Louis Blues, MO Gaming Association, Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Royals, Kansas City Current, National Players Association, St. Louis City Soccer Club, Home Dock Cities Association, iDevelopment & Economic Association, Sports Radar, RT Sports, and MO Chamber of Commerce and Industry supported the bill. J&J Ventures Gaming of MO, and a private citizen opposed the language, citing constitutional concerns, issues with the requirement to use official league data, and their disappointment in the legislation failing to address the video lottery terminal (VLT) issue.
House Bill 2798 (Reedy, R-Windsor) allows a county collector to hold an auction of lands with delinquent property taxes through electronic media at the same time as the same auction is held in-person. The House Rules-Administrative Oversight Committee held an executive session on April 6 where HB 2798 was voted “do pass” by a vote of 11-0.
House Bill 2781 (Evans, R-West Plains) relates to offenses committed against the General Assembly. The bill applies to a person subpoenaed to testify at a hearing or proceeding of the General Assembly, and provides penalties for perjury, giving a false statement, failing to comply, making a false affidavit, and tampering with a witness when the person is a witness in a proceeding before the body of the General Assembly. HB 2781 creates the offense of contempt of a body of the General Assembly, which a person commits if he or she was subpoenaed as a witness by a body of the General Assembly and the person willfully fails to appear to testify; knowingly solicits, accepts, or agrees to any benefit to avoid the subpoena; after having appeared, refuses to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry; or fails to produce required documents. The House Rules-Administrative Oversight Committee held an executive session on April 6 where HB 2781 was voted “do pass” by a vote of 9-2.
House Joint Resolution 83 (Dogan, R-Ballwin). Upon voter approval, this proposed Constitutional amendment legalizes marijuana use for persons 21 years old or older, subject to state regulation, taxation, and local ordinances. On April 5, the House Special Committee on Criminal Justice conducted a hearing on the legislation. According to the resolution, the legal adult use of marijuana should be regulated so that only legitimate businesses conduct sales of marijuana; marijuana sold in this state shall be subject to testing, labeling, and regulation; employers would retain their rights to maintain drug-free and alcohol-free places of employment; selling, transferring, or providing marijuana to individuals under 21 years old would remain illegal; and driving, flying, or boating while impaired by cannabis would remain illegal. The resolution establishes the “Smarter and Safer Missouri Act” which requires marijuana to be removed from the state’s list of controlled substances, no longer be listed among the state’s drug schedules, and no longer be considered a controlled substance or drug. HJR 83 repeals the current Constitutional language relating to medical marijuana. The retail sale of marijuana would be taxed at 12 percent for personal use and four percent for medical use. These provisions and others of the resolution would take effect on Jan. 31, 2024. Testimony in favor of the bill was provided by Cannabis Solutions of Kansas City and by a man who served 22 years in prison for a marijuana crime. No testimony in opposition to the bill was offered. Information only testimony was presented by the MOST Policy Initiative. Rep. Dogan said with six weeks remaining in the legislative session, it is unlikely HJR 83 will make the statewide ballot this fall. The committee took no action on the bill.
House Joint Resolution 128 (O’Donnell, R-St. Louis). Upon voter approval, this proposed Constitutional amendment would authorize the State Treasurer to invest certain funds not necessary for current expenses in obligations of the U.S. government or any agency or instrumentality thereof maturing and becoming payable not more than seven years from the date of purchase, municipal securities possessing one of the five highest long term ratings or the highest short term rating issued by a nationally recognized rating agency and maturing and becoming payable not more than five years from the date of purchase, and also invest in other reasonable and prudent financial instruments and securities as otherwise provided by law. On April 6 the House Rules-Administrative Oversight Committee voted HJR 128 “do pass” by a vote of 9-2.
House Bill 2120 (Taylor, R-Republic) creates provisions relating to the disclosure of personal information to public agencies. HB 2120, as amended, was third read and passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 126-9 on April 6. The bill establishes the “Personal Privacy Protection Act,” prohibiting public agencies from disclosing or requiring the disclosure of personal information, as defined in the bill. “Personal information” in the bill is defined as any list, record, register, registry, roll, roster, or other compilation of data of any kind that directly or indirectly identifies a person as a member, supporter, or volunteer of, or donor of financial or nonfinancial support to, any entity exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code. A floor amendment to the bill defines the offense of tampering with a judicial officer if the officer’s or the officer’s family’s personal information is disseminated by posting on the internet or other means with the intent to harass, intimidate, or influence the person, and the amendment also applies to public officials, members of the General Assembly, statewide elected officials, first responders, children’s division employees, and employees of the department of corrections, and their families. “Personal information” includes a home address, Social Security number, federal tax identification number, checking or savings account numbers, marital status, and identity of a child under the age of 18. A committee amendment was added to the bill by the sponsor with language sought by Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft regarding any report or disclosure required by state law to be filed with his office. The bill prohibits public agencies from: (1) Requiring any individual to provide the public agency with personal information or otherwise compel the release of such personal information; and (2) Requiring any entity exempt from federal income taxation under Sec. 501(c) of the IRS to provide a public agency with personal information or otherwise compel the release of personal information. Penalties established. The bill now moves to the Senate.
House Bill 2289 (Andrews, R-Grant City). Currently, to legally qualify as a newspaper to publish public notices, a Missouri newspaper must have been published regularly for a period of three years or must be the successor newspaper to a defunct newspaper that begins publication no later than 30 days after the termination of the prior newspaper. HB 2289 reduces the time of regular publication from three years to one year and increases the time from 30 days to 90 days within which a successor newspaper must begin publication. HB 2289, as amended, was third read and passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 142-0 on April 6. The bill also allows a newspaper that has been purchased or newly established by another newspaper that satisfies these conditions to qualify. A House floor amendment added to the bill allows the state to seek bids on contracts over $100,000 by posting an invitation to bid on the Office of Administration’s website, eliminating public notice in newspapers. The bill also contains language that could eliminate newspaper notice prior to a self-service storage facility’s sale of personal property of an occupant in default. The bill now moves to the Senate.
House Bill 2587 (Riley, R-Springfield) establishes the “Regulatory Sandbox Act” which creates the Regulatory Relief Office within the Department of Economic Development. 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. HB 2587, as amended, was third read and passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 108-35 on April 6. A floor amendment to the bill added transparency to the bill, suggested by the Missouri Press Association. Transparency issues addressed regard the identity of residents and businesses that make suggestions on the web site, most meetings of the advisory committee shall be considered as public meetings under the Sunshine Law, and incident reports shall be publicly available on the regulatory sandbox web page, among other provisions. The bill now moves to the Senate.
House Joint Resolution 131 (Shaul, R-Imperial). Upon voter approval, this proposed Constitutional amendment clarifies that only citizens of the United States are eligible to vote. The resolution requires that voters have a single vote for each office or issue. Additionally, it requires that the plurality winner of any political party primary election be the only candidate for that political party on the ballot at the General Election. HJR 131 requires paper ballots to be marked at elections, that every voting machine used for an election shall be tested and certified prior to the election, and that a permanent paper record will be available for each vote cast in an election. HCS for HJR 131 was third read and passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 97-45 on April 6. The resolution now moves to the Senate.
House Joint Resolution 132 (Kidd, R-Buckner). Upon voter approval, this proposed constitutional amendment requires that any constitutional amendment must receive both a majority of statewide votes and a majority vote in more than one-half of the state’s House of Representative districts in order to become effective. These requirements would also apply to constitutional changes or amendments proposed during a constitutional convention held under Article XII, section 3(c) of the Constitution of Missouri. HJR 132 was perfected and printed by the House of Representatives by voice vote on April 6. The bill needs one more House vote before moving to the Senate.
House Joint Resolution 133 (Davidson, R-Republic). Upon voter approval, this proposed resolution requires that any initiative proposed by the people for a Constitutional amendment will require a majority vote of registered voters in the state to become effective. The registered voter total for passage is derived by defining such voters as the number of registered voters entitled to vote in the general, municipal, or primary election immediately preceding the election at which the proposed Constitutional amendment is to appear on the ballot. Constitutional amendments proposed by the General Assembly will continue to require a majority of votes cast at the election. On April 6, after considerable debate, HJR 133 was perfected and printed by the House of Representatives by a voice vote. The bill needs another House vote before moving to the Senate.
Senate Bill 758 (Hough, R-Springfield) A few years ago, legislation was passed to allow political subdivisions to utilize different delivery methods for building project notices. SB 758 expands the delivery process to allow the state to use the same various methods for procurement methods. During debate on the Senate floor on April 4, the sponsor successfully amended the bill to remove current bonding authority pertaining to Fulton Mental Health Hospital. Once modified, the Senate provided its first of two necessary approval votes. The Senate dedicated floor time Thursday morning to revisit the bill. After no debate, the Senate passed the bill by a 32-1 vote. The bill now will be sent to the House for further consideration.
Senate Bill 758 (Hough, R-Rolla) was third read and passed by the Senate by a vote of 32-1 on April 7, sending the bill to the House. Senate Substitute for SB 758 would require public notice in newspapers for all state contracts for projects in excess of $100,000. Such contracts would be let to the lowest, responsive, responsible bidder or bidders based on preestablished criteria after publication of an invitation to bid for a period of 10 days or more in a newspaper where the work is located, in one daily newspaper in the state which does not have less than 50,000 daily circulation, and on the Office of Administration’s website. Currently, notices must be published for such projects for five days in a daily newspaper in the county where the work is located or at least two times in a period of 10 days in a newspaper in the county where the work is located and in one daily newspaper in the state which has more than 50,000 daily circulation. The bill also makes numerous changes to state statutes affecting public works contracts, construction projects, design-build projects, and single feasible source purchasing authority.
Senate Bill 845 (Eslinger, R-Wasola) This legislation requires all non-charter counties to prepare and publish in a qualified newspaper a financial statement for the previous year by the first Monday in March. The financial statements must include the name, office, and current gross annual salary of each elected or appointed county official whose salary is set by the County Salary Commission. After no debate on the Senate floor on April 6, the Senate passed the bill consent, by a vote of 33-0. The bill now will be sent to the House for further consideration.