The House of Representatives jumped on the budget bandwagon Tuesday, perfecting the state’s 14 budget bills during nearly eight hours of debate. Much of the day’s amendments and debate centered on Medicaid expansion. On Thursday, roll call votes on all 14 bills sent the House version of the budget to the Senate.
The state’s FY22 operations budget passed by the House totals $32 billion in spending. Included is $3.6 billion for public schools under the foundation formula, plus increases to colleges and universities. A two percent pay raise is on tap for state employees with additional raises for Department of Corrections officers.
House Democrats attempted to fund Medicaid expansion, approved by Missouri voters with a state constitutional amendment in August 2020, but the Republican majority beat back every amendment offered. Governor Mike Parson had proposed funding Medicaid expansion, but the House version left out Medicaid expansion and is $2.2 billion below Parson’s proposed budget. Next up: The Senate tackles the budget.
GOVERNOR EXTENDS STATE OF EMERGENCY DUE TO COVID-19
On March 26, Governor Parson signed Executive Order 21-07 extending the state of emergency in Missouri through Aug. 31, 2021, to help accelerate COVID-19 recovery. The state of emergency extension will allow the state continued flexibility in providing resources and easing regulatory burdens to further assist Missouri’s COVID-19 recovery efforts. It also allows for continued utilization of the Missouri National Guard and federal funding for COVID-19 response efforts.
Governor Parson initially declared a state of emergency on March 13, 2020. Since then, nearly 600 state statutes and regulations have been waived or suspended to increase efficiency and effectiveness in responding to COVID-19. His Executive Order keeps many of the previous measures in place, including those related to telemedicine, motor carrier limitations, the sale of unprepared foods by restaurants, and remote notary access for certain legal documents such as estate planning. The Governor’s Office will continue to work with state agencies to identify regulations that can be permanently eliminated or streamlined moving forward.
EASTER BREAK SHORTENS NEXT WEEK
Legislators will not be in session on Monday, April 5, representing an extra day to celebrate Easter. No legislative activities are scheduled for Monday. Committee hearings on Tuesday are set to begin at 12 noon, and the Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to go into floor sessions at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
TODD GRAVES CONFIRMATION TO MISSOURI BOARD OF CURATORS DRAWS CONTROVERSY
On Wednesday, March 31, Todd Graves received a confirmation hearing before the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee. During the weeks leading up to the committee meeting and during the hearing, Todd Graves’ appointment to the University of Missouri Board of Curators has been somewhat controversial. Questions during the hearing included topics such as Graves’ involvement with the Missouri Republican State Party finances when he was an executive with the party; a contract his firm has with the Missouri Gaming Commission; a lawsuit filed by a client of his law firm in 2017 against former Sen. Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph; concern about the rising cost of higher education; challenges of the University to attract more minority students; and protests on campus by students. Several senators and Graves expressed strong support of UM President Mun Choi and his stable leadership of the four-campus system.
President Choi “is the right person in the right place at the right time,” Graves said. Recruitment of minority students has increased since 2015 at the University, “but we have more work to do.” Graves said all students should have an opportunity to protest if they wish. He said he hoped to have an open line of communication with University faculty and would be proactive in reaching out. “Collegiality” is important, listening to different points of view. “It doesn’t have to be personal,” he said.
On March 18, Graves was appointed by Governor Mike Parson to the sixth congressional district slot currently held by Curator Phil Snowden. Graves’ term would expire Jan. 1, 2027. Graves is a founding partner of Graves Garrett LLC, a title he has held since February 2006. Previously, he served as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri from 2001 to 2006. He was also elected twice as Prosecuting Attorney for Platte County in 1994 and 1998. In 2017-2019, Graves served as chairman of the Missouri Republican Party. He is the founding president of the Kansas City Missouri Police Foundation and chairman of the Stanley M. Herzog Foundation. Graves holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri, Columbia, a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Virginia, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law.
On Thursday, April 1, Graves’ appointment was brought before the Missouri Senate for its confirmation vote. After three hours, the Senate ended debate on the appointment without taking a vote.
House Bill 59 (Schnelting, R-St. Charles) creates the offense of unlawful posting of personally identifying information over the internet if a person knowingly posts the name, home address, Social Security number, and other personal information of any first responder with the intent to cause great bodily harm or death to the first responder. The bill also establishes the Police Use-of-Force Transparency Act of 2021, requiring each law enforcement agency in the state annually to submit local data about use-of-force incidents involving police officers to the FBI and to the state’s attorney general. The attorney general shall make the data available to the public, and the data will be considered an open record under the Sunshine Law. Provisions of the bill are effective Jan. 2, 2022. HB 59 was heard by the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on March 29. Testimony in favor of the bill was presented by Cicero Action. No opposition testimony. The committee took no action on the bill.
House Bill 271 (Wiemann, R-O’Fallon) establishes the “Missouri Local Government Expenditure Database” to be maintained by the state Office of Administration. According to the bill, for each fiscal year beginning after Dec. 31, 2022, the database must include extensive information about a given municipality’s or county’s expenditures and the vendors to whom payments were made. A municipality or county may voluntarily participate in the database or may be required to participate if a petition process used by its residents is used to require participation. The database must be accessible by the public without charge. The bill would not apply to villages with fewer than 30 residents. On March 31, the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee conducted a hearing on HB 271. Testifying in support of the bill was the Missouri Century Foundation. There were two written testimonies in favor of the bill that were submitted. No testimony in opposition. The committee took no action on the bill.
House Bill 333 (Simmons, R-Washington) and House Joint Resolution 20 (Henderson, R-Bonne Terre) The proposals, in varying ways, relate to initiative petition procedures. The proposed modifications vary from increasing the number of signatures required for an initiative petition to qualify for the ballot, to requiring a supermajority of voters to approve measures placed on the ballot by initiative petition rather than today’s simple majority, to imposing fees in order to submit petitions. Hearing held March 31 in the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee. Supporting testimony centered on supporting the initial filing fee, stating the fee will help prevent people from taking advantage of the system and save tax payers money. Opposing testimony focused largely on how the initiative petition process provides people the ability to make decisions on public policy issues and the proposed changes will limit the power of Missouri voters.
House Bill 362 (DeGroot, R-Ellisville) amends several portions of the Sunshine Law. The bill was heard on March 25 by the Senate Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee. HB 362 closes email addresses and telephone numbers submitted to a public governmental body by persons or entities for the sole purpose of receiving electronic or other communications limited to newsletters, notifications, advisories, and alerts. The House had added the following amendments to HB 362: — Allows closure of meetings of a public governmental body when the discussion topic includes evacuation and lockdown procedures for a building owned or leased by the public governmental body or software or surveillance companies that secure access to such buildings, the public disclosure of which would threaten public safety. — Adds individually identifiable customer usage and billing records for residential customers of a municipally owned utility to the list of records that may be closed under the Sunshine Law. On April 1, the Senate Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee voted do pass on SCS HB 362 by a vote of 8-0. An amendment in committee by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Parkville) removed a provision from the bill that would have allowed a public records custodian to act later than three days after a records request is made, if a published notice were provided at least 72 hours prior to the request for records that the public governmental body would be closed for an extended period outside of normal hours of operation.
House Bill 657 (Trent, R-Springfield) is a Sunshine Law bill similar to HB 362. On April 1, the Senate Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee conducted a hearing on HB 657. No public testimony offered. The committee took no action on HB 657. Sen. Luetkemeyer later said he would offer an amendment in committee to remove from the bill the provision about delaying requests for public records.
House Bill 402 (Mosley, D-St. Louis) prohibits the Lottery Commission, state lottery, any contracted organization, or any of their employees from publicizing the name, address, or identifying information of a lottery winner in printed or electronic form for distribution or sale to the public. Any violation of these provisions is a class A misdemeanor. The bill adds an “opt-in” for people who wish their names to be publicized. On April 1, the House Rules-Legislative Oversight Committee voted do pass on House Committee Substitute for HB 402 by a vote of 10-0.
House Bill 580 (Riggs, R-Hannibal) requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to submit an annual report to the General Assembly listing the number of elementary and secondary students who do not have home internet access or who have limited home internet access. The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee held an executive session on March 30 where HB 580 was voted do pass by a vote of 19-0.
House Bill 617 (Rogers, D-Kansas City), House Bill 822 (O’Donnell, R-St. Louis) and House Bill 848 (Sander, R-Lone Jack) establishes the “Daylight Saving as New Standard Time Pact”. These bills were brought up in an executive session on March 31 of the House Downsizing State Government Committee. A substitute was adopted combining the three bills and voted do pass by a vote of 10-1.
House Bill 766 (Andrews, R-Grant City) requires businesses that make automatic renewal or continuous service offers to provide customers with clear information and costs, including any price changes after initial free trial periods or gifts, in a manner that may be retained by the customer, prior to collecting payment for any goods or services. It also requires the customer to be given cost-effective, timely, and easy-to-use mechanisms for cancellation and for automatic renewal or continuous service. This bill is effective July 1, 2022. Hearing held March 30 in the House Special Committee on Small Business. An individual testified in support of the bill, with no testimony in opposition. Microsoft Corporation testified for informational purposes.
House Bill 842 (Hill, R-Lake St. Louis) Beginning on January 1, 2022 this bill requires the use of paper ballots marked by hand. Electronic touch screen machines may be used to assist disabled voters until January 1, 2024, and ballot marking devices may be used to assist disabled voters at any time. The bill’s substitute language was adopted to provide technical changes. On March 30 the House Rules-Administrative Oversight Committee voted the bill do pass by a vote of 13-0.
House Bill 850 (Wiemann, R-O’Fallon) prohibits the modification of summary statements or ballot language approved by the General Assembly for state constitutional amendments or statutory measures. Courts will not have jurisdiction to rewrite or edit such language prior to placing it on the ballot. The secretary of state and attorney general would maintain their authority to review ballot language. On March 31, the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee conducted a hearing on HB 850. Testifying in support of the bill were Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and the Opportunity Solutions Project. Testimony in opposition was presented by Jobs With Justice Voter Action, the ACLU of Missouri, the Missouri National Education Association, and a Kansas City resident. The committee took no action on the bill.
House Bill 1162 (Trent, R-Springfield) prevents public schools from posting or publishing publicly any individually identifiable information about a child, parent, or guardian without consent. Information may be disclosed internally. The bill establishes procedures governing the use of and access to student data by third parties. Whenever a school provides access to student data to a contractor, the contractor shall agree to a written contract with the school governing the contractor’s access to and use of student data. The bill also requires the operators of school websites that collect, maintain, or use student data to maintain security practices designed to protect student data. The bill requires notification of the school and affected students and parents if security breaches cause the unauthorized disclosure of student data. The bill also establishes a task force to study issues relating to student data privacy. On March 29 the House Rules-Legislative Oversight Committee voted HB 1162 do pass by a vote of 9-0.
House Bill 1177 (Davis, R-Kansas City) establishes the “Government Lending Transparency Act”. The bill defines the terms “credit support program” and “lending program” and requires the State Auditor to report on all state lending programs and credit support programs at the end of each fiscal year. The State Auditor will also be required to compile the total dollar amount of all state lending programs as well as the total amount of debt supported by credit support programs. This bill also requires the State Auditor to make reasonable estimates of the costs of likely defaults on lending programs and credit support programs, using equivalent private market debts to evaluate the likelihood and costs of defaults when possible. Hearing held March 31 in the House Downsizing State Government Committee. Cicero Institute, Officer of the Missouri State Auditor and an individual testified in support of the bill. No testimony in opposition.
House Bill 1209 (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. The House Local Government Committee held an executive session on April 1 where HB 1209 was voted do pass by a vote of 10-0.
House Bill 1345 (Cupps, R-Shell Knob) modifies and creates new provisions relating to legal notices in newspapers. HB 1345 modifies the requirements for the publication of statewide ballot measures by the Secretary of State to be in conformity with the current Missouri Constitution. HB 1345 also modifies the unclaimed property notice requirements required to be made by the State Treasurer. The bill would allow the State Treasurer to use any method he or she deems appropriate and consistent with the intent to notify the owners of the property. The bill allows the State Treasurer to exclude unclaimed property notices in newspapers and by mail. On March 29, the House General Laws Committee voted do pass on HB 1345 by a vote of 11-4. On April 1, the House Rules-Legislative Oversight Committee voted do pass on HB 1345 by a vote of 8-2.
Senate Bill 214 (Hough, R-Springfield) adds individually identifiable customer usage and billing records for residential 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. A municipally owned utility shall make available to the public a commercial customer’s name, billing address, location of service, and dates of service provided for any commercial service account. On March 31, the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy & the Environment Committee voted do pass on SB 214 by a vote of 11-0.
Senate Bill 272 (Mosley, D-St. Louis) prohibits the Lottery Commission, state lottery, any contracted organization, or any of their employees from publicizing the name, address, or identifying information of a lottery winner in printed or electronic form for distribution or sale to the public. Any violation of these provisions is a class A misdemeanor. The Senate General Laws Committee held an executive session on March 31 where Senate Committee Substitute was voted do pass by a vote of 6-0. The substitute would allow for the publication if the winner provides written approval to the Lottery.
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