’22 Legislative Reports: Week 2: First Full Week of Session Finished

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The legislature will observe the Martin Luther King Jr holiday on Monday, Jan. 17, therefore, the House of Representatives and the Senate will not be in session until Tuesday. The House is moving quickly to pass priority legislation with hearings conducted this week on such topics as U.S. Congressional redistricting, a state supplemental budget bill containing federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds and an omnibus agricultural bill. The congressional redistricting map is expected to hit the floor for debate in the House immediately upon return and floor debate will be limited to four hours. Meanwhile in the Senate, hearings are revving up on issues such as illegal gaming, personal property taxes, civil justice reform measures, and gubernatorial appointments.

Heated disagreement within the Missouri Senate’s Republican caucus continued Monday with lengthy debate on the “previous question,” known as the “PQ.” The previous question may be called in the Senate to end debate on a bill, but it required the signatures of five senators to end debate. A Senate Resolution was introduced by President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan) to require 10 signatures, rather than five, for a PQ. The GOP Conservative Caucus offered several amendments to the resolution, including delaying the rule change to the year 2100 or 2200, but those amendments failed. The resolution requiring 10 signatures was approved by a vote of 22-11.

Members of the Missouri Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee met Jan. 12 in the state capitol to consider 10 recent appointments to boards, departments, commissions, and committees made by Governor Mike Parson (R). Among the appointees receiving unanimous approval by the Senate committee members, and then unanimously approved by the full Senate on Jan. 13, is Wayne Wallingford of Cape Girardeau, appointed Dec. 29, 2021, as the new director of the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR). Wallingford, a Republican, served in the Missouri Senate from 2013 to 2020 and had been serving as a member of the 2021-22 Missouri House of Representatives. Wallingford has also served as the chief people officer for the McDonald’s corporation in Southeast Missouri, as the vice president of operations for iSOLD IT in Central Missouri, and in various regional management posts for the Taco Bell corporation. In his nearly 25 years in the U.S. Air Force, he served as chief of the Intelligence Division in the United Kingdom and chief of the Electronic Intelligence Analysis Division in Hawaii, and other positions. Wallingford was introduced at the Jan. 12 hearing by Sen. Holly Rehder (R-Scott City).

Senate Bill 631 (Hegeman, R-Cosby) 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. A public hearing was held January 11 in the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. 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. Health Care Services Group of MO, MO Organization of Defense Lawyers, MO Hospital Association, MO Civil Justice Reform Coalition, Doctors Company, NSF, Kansas City Chiefs, Associated Industries of MO, MO Chamber of Commerce, Bayer, Enterprise Rent a Car, MO Insurance Coalition, State Farm Insurance Companies, NFIB, MO Grocers Association, MO Retailers Association, MO Tire and Industry Association, MO Beverage Association and MO Railroad Association provided supporting testimony. The MO Association of Trial Attorneys, and a personal advocate opposed the legislation.

And the bills just keep on coming! At latest count, members of the Missouri House of Representatives have introduced 1,050 bills for the 2022 session of the General Assembly, and Missouri Senators have introduced 454 bills.

Committee Activity

Among 13 recent appointments by Governor Mike Parson (R) receiving unanimous Senate approval on Jan. 13, is: Keith Holloway of Cape Girardeau, who was appointed June 3, 2021, to the University of Missouri Board of Curators. Holloway is the founder and owner of Professional Packaging, Inc., a regional pallet brokerage he established in 1992. He is also a commercial real estate investor and manager in Cape Girardeau. Holloway is a member of the University of Missouri Cape Girardeau County Extension Council, Three Rivers Endowment Trust Board, ERASE Foundation Board, Missouri Chamber of Commerce, and Missouri Forest Products Association. He also previously served on the Board of Directors for the National Wood Pallet Container Association. Holloway holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration and finance from the University of Missouri, Columbia. Holloway was originally appointed on March 22, 2021, but the Senate did not take a vote during the previous legislative session. Holloway was appointed to the Eighth Congressional curator slot formerly held by David Steelman of Rolla.

Holloway was introduced at a Jan. 12 hearing by Sen. Holly Rehder (R-Scott City). He said he has been “exhilarated” to serve on the Board of Curators, and he’s encouraged with the leadership of University President Dr. Mun Choi and the other chancellors of UM’s four-campus system. Committee chairman, Sen. Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan), voiced concern about the rising cost of higher education. Holloway replied it’s important to spend tuition dollars and other education revenue wisely and to invest it correctly. Holloway said he is a proponent of Missouri students attending any of UM’s four campuses, then returning to jobs in their hometowns.

The House Judiciary Committee convened January 12 to discuss six bills that, in varying ways, all relate to prohibiting the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The proposed modifications vary from allowing the right to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine and medical treatment, to providing it is unlawful discriminatory practice to require any person to receive a vaccination that has not been fully authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration, to prohibiting discrimination in employment based on COVID-19 vaccination status, to making an employer liable for damages or injury arising from the required vaccination. Representatives Bill Hardwick (R-Waynesville), Cyndi Buchheit-Courtway (R-Festus), Ed Lewis (R-Moberly), Jeff Coleman (R-Grain Valley), and David Evans (R-West Plains) presented House Bills 1686, 1709, 1710, 1768, 1641, and 2358. The hearing lasted most of the evening with only one person providing supporting testimony and several interested parties opposing various provisions of each proposal presented. Supporting testimony was presented by Ren’s Law Firm who stated they are seeing more COVID-19 liability cases and have concerns regarding federal mandates affecting employees. Opposing testimony focused largely on the negative impact the bills would have on nursing homes and highlighted how the bills will put nursing homes in direct conflict with CMS mandates. Additionally, it was stated employers in general are against any kind of government mandate including removing the option to require vaccines. Informational testimony was presented by Missouri First, who stated the definitions need to be more clearly defined.

House Joint Resolution 79 (Henderson, R-Bonne Terre) 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. On Jan. 12, the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee conducted a hearing on the resolution. HJR 79 also requires initiative petition signatures to place a measure on the ballot as a constitutional amendment to be collected in each U.S. Congressional district using a percentage requirement of 10 percent. Laws 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 8 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.) HJR 79 attracted lengthy pro and con discussion. Rep. Henderson said the “threshold is too low,” making it too easy to amend the state’s Constitution. Rep. Joe Adams (D-University City) countered saying, “I see you attempting to deny the people the right to change the Missouri Constitution.” The changes in HJR 79 are “unnecessary and unwarranted,” Rep. Adams said. Public testimony in favor of the bill was presented by James Harris, representing Opportunity Solutions Project. Testimony in opposition was offered by Jobs With Justice Voter Action, the Missouri National Education Association, the League of Women Voters, and a Jefferson City resident who had worked as a volunteer signature collector on previous initiative petitions. “This bill deliberately tries to make it harder for issues to pass,” he said. Testifying for information only was Ron Calzone of Missouri First and Trish Vincent, representing the Missouri Secretary of State. Vincent said so far 84 initiative petitions have been filed during the current filing period, and 74 of the proposed petitions contain changes to the Constitution.

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. Hearing held January 13 in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. No supporting or opposing testimony was provided.

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