The Constitutional deadline for approving the new state budget is 6 p.m. Friday, May 6. This week the Senate attacked budget bills with a fervor on the Senate floor to hustle them back to the House of Representatives. The 13 budget bills passed Tuesday total $45.1 billion in spending during Fiscal Year 2023.
Several of the bills caught criticism from the Left for spending too little in state and federal funds and from the Right for spending too much. One member of the Senate conservative caucus roared the budget represents “death of fiscal conservatism.” A Democrat countered it’s the “most progressive budget” ever. The Senate approved an additional $1.2 billion to the House budget bills. Next week, House-Senate conference committees will focus on compromises to finalize the bills, pass them, and deliver them to the Governor’s desk by deadline.
LEGISLATORS BREAK TUESDAY NIGHT FOR BBQ AT GOVERNOR’S MANSION
Missouri Governor Mike Parson hosted a barbecue for legislators and many of their family members on Tuesday evening, a traditional event near the end of the annual legislative session. Another tradition is on the horizon: legislators will play a softball tournament on May 2, previously postponed twice this session due to inclement weather. Third time is the charm?
BILL MOVING TO NAME CAPITAL CITY BRIDGE FOR SENATOR BLUNT
The Senate Transportation Committee voted “do pass” on Senate Bill 1162 (Rowden, R-Columbia) by a vote of 4-0 on Tuesday. The bill would name the Missouri River bridge on Highway 54 at Jefferson City in honor of retiring U.S. Senator Roy D. Blunt.
MISSOURI COACH GARY PINKEL RECEIVES RESOLUTIONS
Being honored on his 70th birthday anniversary, former Head Football Coach Gary Pinkel of the University of Missouri Tigers was presented House and Senate resolutions on Wednesday. Pinkel was introduced in the House by Rep. Kurtis Gregory (R-Marshall), former player under Pinkel, and in the Senate by Sen. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia). Accompanying Pinkel in the capitol were several former players, former Mizzou Head Coach Bob Stull, and former Athletic Director Mike Alden.
FINAL TWO WEEKS OF SESSION
Due to the constant floor activities during the final two weeks, we will not be sending out a weekly report next week. We will contact you directly in regards to any legislation of interest and plan to have a comprehensive “end of session” report upon the conclusion of the 2022 legislative session on May 13th.
House Bill 1541 (McGirl, R-Potosi) is legislation pertaining to special road districts’ funds. Currently, certain special road districts are restricted to expend not more than one-fourth of the district’s revenue within the corporate limits of any city within the district. This bill removes the restriction. Senate Committee Substitute for HB 1541 was voted “do pass” by the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee by a vote of 5-0 on April 25. The Senate Committee Substitute added a condensed county financial statement to be published in local newspapers annually, and added salary modifications for coroners, sheriffs, and public administrators, and modified the Missouri Local Government Employees’ Retirement System.
House Bill 1562 (Griffith, R-Jefferson City) designates the “Stars and Stripes Historic Region of Missouri.” The Stars and Stripes military newspaper was founded during the Civil War in the town of Bloomfield, MO, where the Stars and Stripes Museum is located. On April 26, the Senate Economic Development Committee voted “do pass” on HB 1562 by a vote of 8-0. The bill now moves to the Senate. The bill specifies the multi-county, historic region of southeast Missouri. The Department of Transportation may place suitable markings and informational signs in the designated areas, costs to be paid by private donations.
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. This 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 25 in the House Financial Institutions Committee. No testimony in support or opposition. On April 27 the committee held an executive session where HCS for HB 1633 was voted “do pass” by a vote of 11-3.
House Bill 2003 (Pouche, R-Kansas City) adds all settlements and judgments paid from the state’s Legal Expense Fund to the list of financial transactions disclosed in the Missouri Accountability Portal. On April 25 the House Rules-Administrative Oversight Committee voted HB 2003 “do pass” by a vote of 10-0.
House Bill 2120 (Taylor, R-Republic) The bill creates provisions relating to the disclosure of personal information to public agencies and establishes the “Personal Privacy Protection Act”, prohibiting public agencies from disclosing or requiring the disclosure of personal information. Additionally, the bill includes the offense of harassment of a judicial officer by defining online harassment which can include the posting of private information such as an address, social security number, telephone number, or family member names. Lastly, the bill also adds filings required by law to be filed with the Secretary of State to the list of exemptions. Hearing held April 25 in the Senate Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee. Americans for Prosperity, People United for Privacy, and the Institute for Free Speech supported the bill. No opposing testimony was presented.
House Bill 2168 (Porter, R-Montgomery City) The bill states if an insurance policy is purchased through the Internet, a mobile application, a computer, a mobile device, a tablet, or any other electronic device or platform or if an insurance policy is initially delivered by electronic means, a party shall be considered to have affirmatively consented to have all future notices and documents related to the policy or claims of such policy delivered by electronic means. During committee discussion, substitute language was adopted to include the perfected version of SB 742, sponsored by Senator Sandy Crawford (R-Buffalo). Currently, the Petroleum Storage Tank Insurance Fund expires on December 31, 2025. This act extends the expiration date to December 31, 2030. During debate, the sponsor offered substitute language to align the bill with the perfected version of SB 783, which includes provisions pertaining to travel insurance, life insurance, motor vehicle insurance verification, and unemployment insurance. Once modified, the Senate Insurance and Banking Committee passed the bill by a 4-0 vote.
House Bill 2502 (Houx, R-Warrensburg) The bill seeks to legalize sports betting in Missouri. On April 25 the Senate Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee voted the bill “do pass” by a vote of 7-0.
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 voted “do pass” by the Senate Economic Development Committee by a vote of 5-3 on April 26. Included in the bill is a House floor amendment that adds 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 Senate committee made no changes to the House bill.
House Bill 2705 (Lovasco, R-O’Fallon) This bill prohibits any county, city, town, village, municipality, state agency, or other political subdivision from enacting, adopting, or enforcing any law, ordinance, regulation, order, or other provision that authorizes the use of any automated traffic enforcement system, as defined in the bill, to establish evidence that a motor vehicle or its operator was not in compliance with traffic signals, traffic speeds, or other laws, ordinances, rules, or regulations on any public street, road, or highway within this state, or to impose or collect any civil or criminal fine, fee, or penalty for the noncompliance with certain exceptions. Retaining any data recorded by such a system regarding a person’s location or movements without a warrant is prohibited. Any county, city, town, village, municipality, state agency, or other political subdivision that has an automated traffic enforcement system installation or maintenance contract with a company on August 28, 2022, must arrange to complete or terminate the contract by September 1, 2023, after which date the city, town, village, municipality, state agency, or other political subdivision will be subject to the prohibition. The House Downsizing State Government Committee held an executive session on April 27 where House Committee Substitute for HB 2705 was voted “do pass” by a vote of 7-3. The substitute eliminates lines regarding warrants.
House Joint Resolution 79 (Henderson, R-Bonne Terre) was voted “do pass” by the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee by a vote of 4-2 on April 25. HJR 79 would make changes to the initiative petition process. The Senate Committee Substitute changed the title of the bill to “process for amending the law” and clarified the implementation date. HJR 79 is a proposed state Constitutional amendment that if approved by voters would require a two-thirds supermajority vote for passage of an amendment to the state’s Constitution. HJR 79 requires initiative petition signatures to place a measure on the ballot as a Constitutional amendment to be collected in each of Missouri’s eight U.S. Congressional districts using a percentage requirement of 10 percent. Statutes may be placed on the ballot using the current percentage requirement of 5 percent. (Currently, a Constitutional amendment may be placed on the ballot by initiative petitions signed by eight percent of legal voters in six of Missouri’s eight Congressional districts, and the ballot issue currently would take effect if a simple majority of votes cast approves the issue.) The bill would require the Secretary of State to administer public forums in each Congressional district at least 15 days before the measure is voted on a statewide ballot to give members of the public an opportunity to review and comment on the initiative petition. HJR 79 also has an effective date of Jan. 1, 2023, if approved by voters.
Senate Bill 745 (Cierpiot, R-Lee’s Summit) The bill, as originally filed, allows the Public Service Commission to track all utilities true amounts of property taxes. During the bill’s Senate progression, the bill was amended to include:
• SB 881, which authorizes a sales tax exemption on the purchase of solar;
• SB 763, creates the Task Force on Distributed Energy Resources and Net Metering;
• SB 756, seeks to create economic incentive discount rates for utility providers to increase utilization by providing services to new customers on electric, sewer, water, and gas usage. Additionally, allows the Public Service Commission to directly contract counsel, financial advisors, or other consultants as necessary to carry out the Commission’s duties related to financing orders and the Commission shall not be subject to provisions of law relating to competitive bidding for state entities.
• Language was included to allow coal-fired utilities maintenance costs to be captured during cases of emergency or disaster; and
• SB 827, which adds individually identifiable customer usage and billing records for customers of a municipally owned utility, unless the records are requested by the customer or authorized for release by the customer, to the list of records that may be closed under the Sunshine Law.
During an executive session of the House Utilities on April 27, substitute language was adopted to further amend the bill to align the language with the perfected version of SB 756, by including:
• SB 763, which creates the Task Force on Distributed Energy Resources and Net Metering, to conduct hearings and research information related to net metering and compile a report to submit to the General Assembly by December 31, 2022;
• language was included to allow local Missouri cooperatives to recover costs from natural disaster events;
• SB 820, prohibits home owners association from restricting solar, and provides sales tax parity for solar operations;
• SB 1014, establishes the “Task Force on Fair, Nondiscriminatory Local Taxation Concerning Solar Energy Systems” to exam the taxation of solar energy systems and related issues;
• SB 945, clarifies that utility taxes are exempt from the definition of “sale at retail” for hotels and motels. Once modified, the Senate provided its first of two necessary approval votes; and
• Removes language allowing the Public Service Commission to directly contract counsel, financial advisors, or other consultants as necessary to carry out the Commission’s duties.
Once modified, the committee passed the bill by a 5-2 vote.
Senate Bill 758 (Hough, R-Rolla) was voted “do pass” by the House Economic Development Committee by a vote of 9-0 on April 26. A substitute bill was presented that designates the Ozark Highlands Region for manufacturing of distilled spirits in Missouri and revises the One Start Act to allow for the Department of Economic Development to administer the incentive program more easily. SB 758 also requires public notice in newspapers for all state contracts for projects more than $100,000. The bill requires 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 makes numerous changes to state statutes affecting design-build projects, public works contracts, construction projects, and single feasible source purchasing authority.
Senate Bill 775, 751 & 640 (Thompson Rehder, R-Sikeston) modifies provisions relating to sexual offenses. An amendment added to the bill prohibits a state court or any employee or agent of a state court to publicly disclose any confidential information of a living person unless the disclosure is permitted by federal law, federal regulation or state law. “Confidential information” is defined in the bill as personal information required under Missouri Supreme Court Operating Rule 4.07.1, including but not limited to, Social Security number and date of birth. For purposes of the section, “publicly disclose” shall not include the use of confidential information by courts, any law enforcement agency, or the Missouri Department of Public Safety in carrying out their constitutional powers or duties. Sections of the bill deal with witnesses of sexual offenses, sexual offenders, child pornography, and Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights. Under current law, certain identifiable information of victims of domestic assault or stalking shall be closed and redacted from public record. Another section of SB 775, et al, adds that such identifiable information shall also include, but shall not be limited to, the victim’s personal email address, birth date, health status, or any information from a forensic testing report. On April 25 the House Rules-Administrative Oversight Committee voted the bill “do pass” by a vote of 10-0.
Senate Bill 845 (Eslinger, R-Wasola) requires a condensed county financial statement to be published in local newspapers in all counties of the first, second, third, or fourth classification. 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. On April 26, the House Local Government Committee voted “do pass” on SB 845, as amended, by a vote of 11-0. Two committee amendments were added to the bill: an amendment modifying salaries of public administrators of counties, and an amendment requiring county officials who represent the City of St. Louis to confirm they have fully paid their local taxes before they can file for public office of the City.
Senate Joint Resolution 33 (Koenig, R-Manchester) This constitutional amendment, if approved by the voters, prohibits the General Assembly from setting an income tax rate exceeding 5.9%. It also modifies a provision prohibiting sales taxes levied on transactions not taxed as of January 1, 2015, by providing an exception for sales and use taxes on subscriptions, licenses for digital products, and online purchases of tangible personal property. On April 26 the House Rules-Administrative Oversight Committee voted SJR 33 “do pass” by a vote of 10-0.
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. Senate Substitute for HB 1606, as amended, was adopted by the Senate by voice vote on April 27. The bill’s county financial statement language has been negotiated with legislators and supported by the Missouri Press Association and its membership during the past three years. A Senate committee substitute bill’s language also modifies county coroners’ salaries, county sheriffs’ salaries, public administrators’ salaries, and allows delinquent property auctions to be conducted both in-person and on the internet.
Twenty-one Senate floor amendments were added to HB 1606. Added to the bill: An amendment affecting St. Charles County and its residents’ personal property assessments and taxes. No residential property shall be assessed at a value that exceeds the previous assessed value for the property, except for new construction and improvements, by more than the percentage increase in the consumer price index or 10 percent, whichever is greater. No election authority shall take or accept funding, grants, or gifts of any kind from any source other than from the governing body of a political subdivision, the state of Missouri, or the federal government. Modifying a political subdivision’s failure to timely submit an annual financial statement to the state auditor. Taxing jurisdictions are authorized to impose a property tax credit to homeowners at least 65 years old who are liable for the payment of real property taxes on the residence. The county commission of Cass County may overrule and reject a county library board of trustees’ decision to order an election on the question of increasing taxes and may remove any member for conduct prejudicial to the good order and effective operation of the library, or for other good cause, stated in writing and after a public hearing. Modifications and requirements of cities or counties establishing neighborhood improvement districts. Exceptions to the salary for the Boone County sheriff. The sale of state property being sold in Kirksville, Rolla, the City of St. Louis, and St. Louis County. Any school district located in St. Charles County receiving voter approval for issuing bonds shall maintain a detailed accounting of each expenditure by the school district for the funds generated by the bond issue, and maintain a budget for each project, publicly available on the district’s website. Sales tax exemption for tickets to the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament matches, possibly coming to Kansas City. No building code adopted by a political subdivision shall prohibit the use of refrigerants approved by the federal government. All sales of firearms and ammunition made in Missouri would be exempt from sales taxes. All sales of diapers worn by infants or toddlers, and all sales of feminine hygiene products would be exempt from sales taxes. No public employee shall be required by any political subdivision to receive a vaccination against COVID-19 as a condition of commencing or continuing employment. “Political subdivision” does not include a hospital, nursing home, any state department or agency. Modifications of sheriff’s sales of foreclosed properties. Use of state funds for the homeless. Condemnation proceedings when heritage values are payable as determined by a circuit judge. And, political subdivisions electing to cover emergency telecommunicators, jailors, and emergency medical service personnel as public safety personnel for retirement coverage. The bill was referred to the Senate Government Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee.
House Bill 1859 (Eggleston, R-Maysville) imposes a labeling requirement for political subdivisions’ and special districts’ ballot measures using sets of letters from the alphabet and double letters if needed as specified in the bill. If a measure is labeled, but not voted upon at the next election, then it retains its letter designation until it has been voted on by the people. This practice is like the current law on statewide ballot measure labeling. On April 25, HB 1859 was third read and passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 98-48. The bill now moves to the Senate. The bill also requires ballot language where there are multiple elected offices available, such as a school board election, should explain to voters the maximum number of candidates voters may vote for, and it requires hand-marked ballots, or for disabled voters a paper ballot marking machine, to be used during elections. The bill also eliminates drop boxes for ballots.
Senate Bill 812 (Eigel, R-Weldon Spring). Under SB 812, if the General Assembly adopts a joint resolution proposing a Constitutional amendment or statutory measure to be referred to the people that includes an official summary statement, the statement shall appear on the ballot, and no court shall have the authority to rewrite or edit the summary statement or ballot language. SB 812 was perfected and printed by the Senate by voice vote on April 25. The bill also requires the use of electronic voter registration application forms by the director of revenue for the secure electronic transfer of voter registration information to election authorities. Any person who, at the time of a transaction with the Division of Motor Vehicle and Drivers Licensing, provides a document that establishes non-citizenship shall not be offered the opportunity to register to vote as part of the transaction. Expired provisions are repealed relating to methods of voting during the 2020 general election for voters who had contracted COVID-19 or who were at risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19. Another Senate vote is required to send the bill to the House of Representatives.
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