House Bill 1619 (VanSchoiack, R-Savannah) prohibits the use of a drone or unmanned aircraft to photograph, film, videotape, create an image, or livestream another person or personal property of another person, with exceptions. Substitute language was adopted to allow a state agency or a political subdivision to use a drone or unmanned aircraft if they have probable cause, instead of requiring a search warrant to fly the aircraft over private property. Additionally, the substitute clarifies the provisions of the bill shall not prohibit the operation of unmanned aircraft by a public utility or rural electric cooperative if the aircraft is used for the purpose of inspecting, repairing, or maintaining utility transmission or distribution lines or other utility equipment or infrastructure. During committee discussion, the substitute was further amended to clarify language pertaining to creating images, and clarifies that the pilots of the unmanned aircrafts or drones need to be federally certified by the FAA. On February 14 the House Rules-Administrative Oversight Committee voted the bill do pass out of committee.
House Bill 1859 (Eggleston, R-Maysville) imposes a labeling requirement for political subdivision and special district 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 Feb. 16, HB 1859 was voted “do pass” by the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee.
House Bill 1955 (Richey, R-Excelsior Springs) requires that all employees of any statewide athletic association or organization that receives any public money and has a public school district as a member (MSHSAA) be “mandated reporters.” As a mandated reporter, the MSHSAA employee has a legal obligation to report to the appropriate state department or local police any suspicion of abuse or neglect or any belief that a crime has been committed on school property. HB 1955 was heard by the House Special Committee on Government Accountability on Feb. 14. Rep. Richey said MSHSAA is supportive of the bill. The association also must maintain a database listing each person who is employed as a coach or a member of a coaching staff for all member schools. HB 1955 also requires that before hiring coaches or coaching staff members, school districts must determine if any allegations of misconduct or crimes were reported for an individual by contacting all school districts where the individual was previously employed. Testifying in support of the bill was Missouri KidsFirst. The committee took no further action on the bill.
House Bill 2002 (Pouche, R-Kansas City) would require election authorities to record a voter’s chosen primary election ballot or nonpartisan ballot as part of the voter’s registration record. HB 2002 was heard by the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee on Feb. 16. No public testimony in support of the bill was offered. Testimony in opposition to the bill was presented by the League of Women Voters of Missouri, saying such legislation would interfere with voter privacy. Information only testimony by the St. Louis County Board of Elections, Democrat director. The committee took no further action on the bill.
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. HB 2003 was heard by the House Special Committee on Government Accountability on Feb. 14. Rep. Pouche said purpose of the bill is to increase financial transparency for the citizens of Missouri. No public testimony was offered. The committee took no further action on the bill.
House Bill 2093 (Wiemann, R-O’Fallon) prohibits any employer from implementing a vaccination program ordered by any government entity. The substitute ensures only government agencies and entities are prohibited from implementing vaccine programs and removed the sunset. On February 16 the House Rules-Administrative Oversight Committee voted the bill do pass by a vote of 7-4.
House Bill 2105 (Schnelting, R-St. Charles) prohibits state-funded universities and colleges to censor a speaker based solely on the speaker’s particular political persuasion, party affiliation, or viewpoint or ideology, if that viewpoint or ideology is in any major American political party platform. Violations are cause for a civil action for defamation, along with additional actions outlined in the bill. HB 2105 was heard by the House Higher Education Committee on Feb. 14. The bill was criticized for some of its terminology, and Rep. Schnelting said he plans to amend the bill and he welcomes suggested language for his amendment. Testimony for information only was presented by the Council on Public Higher Education, which said the bill clarification in several areas. The committee took no further action on the bill.
House Bill 2113 (McGaugh, R-Carrollton) and House Bill 2140 (McGaugh, R-Carrollton) change numerous election laws. HB 2113 and HB 2140 were heard by the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee on Feb. 9 and 16. The legislation includes requiring photo identification to vote, hand-marked paper ballots, prohibits that 26 weeks before a presidential election that no state election laws can be changed, allows the Secretary of State to do necessary auditing of voter rolls, outlines there should not be connectivity of voting machines to the internet, allows registered voters to file change of address forms in person on election day, reduces the time local election authorities have to update voters’ records, and many other changes. Testifying in favor of the bill were Trish Vincent, Deputy Secretary of State, and Shane Schoeller, Greene County Clerk, representing county clerks and election authorities. Combined, the two bills make some 30 changes to state election laws. Many persons submitted written testimony in opposition to the bill, including the National Council of Jewish Women, St. Louis; the League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis, Paws to the Polls, Springfield; Missouri Asian American Youth Foundation, Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis, Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, Missouri AFL-CIO, Metropolitan Congregations United of St. Louis, and many individuals. Much of the dissent centered on imposition of strict voter photo ID requirements. The bill also limits those who can vote absentee due to confinement to only those persons confined on election day itself. The committee took no further action on the bill.
House Bill 2120 (Taylor, R-Republic) creates provisions relating to the disclosure of personal information to public agencies. HB 2120 was heard by the House Emerging Issues Committee on Feb. 15. 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.
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.
Witnesses testifying in favor of the bill included People United for Privacy, The American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Prosperity, and The Alliance Defending Freedom. There was no testimony offered in opposition.
Supporters said the intent of the bill is to protect political speech, preventing public agencies or others from demanding personal information and revealing non-profit organizations’ donor identities and donor lists. The committee took no further action on the bill.
House Bill 2359 (Basye, R-Rocheport) This bill expands the information to be made accessible on the Missouri Accountability Portal to include all forms of compensation and benefits paid to or on behalf of employees and all bonds issued by any public school district and requires public school districts to supply all such information to be made accessible on the Portal to the Office of Administration. After brief discussion in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on February, the bill was passed by a vote of 14-5.
House Joint Resolution 91 (J. Eggleston, R-Maysville). Upon voter approval, this proposed Constitutional amendment would require the sponsor(s) of initiative petitions proposing Constitutional amendments or laws to collect signatures in each of Missouri’s eight Congressional districts. After collecting signatures, hearings in the General Assembly would be held on the initiative petition proposal. If placed on the statewide ballot, a two-thirds majority vote of the people is required for approval of the proposed amendment. An amendment: The House Committee Substitute specifies that the Constitutional phrase “legal voter” is defined as an individual who is a citizen of the United States, a resident of Missouri, and who is properly registered to vote, and the resolution has a delayed effective date of Jan. 1, 2023. The House Rules-Administrative Oversight Committee met on February 16 where HJR 91 was voted do pass by a vote of 7-4.
House Joint Resolution 125 (Christofanelli, R-St. Peters) This resolution states the income tax rate may not exceed 5.9%. However, upon this resolution’s passage subscriptions, digital product licenses, and goods bought online may be taxed at no set rate. Hearing held February 16 in the House Ways and Means Committee. No supporting or opposing testimony was provided during the hearing.
Senate Bill 845 (Eslinger, R-Wasola) was voted “do pass, consent” on a vote of 7-0 by the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee on Feb. 17. The legislation 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. The newspaper publishing the financial statement shall charge and receive no more than its regular local classified advertising rate as published 30 days before the publication of the financial statement. The bill’s language has been worked on and agreed to by the Missouri Press Association Board of Directors, MPA members, and legislators over the past three years.