As things continue to move at a super-fast pace over the next two weeks, we plan to send a shortened legislative update next week and contact you directly for the remainder of session when we see any major legislative action on any bill of interest to your industry.
OMNIBUS BILLS ARE THE NORM IN FINAL WEEKS OF SESSION
Both the Senate and the House, in their committee hearings and in each of their chambers, are loading bills with amendments, with other bills, and with hopes they can find a vehicle to get their legislation across the finish line as the session’s days and nights dwindle. Some individual bills have received 15, 20, more than 30 amendments, setting up the likelihood of conference committees in the final days whittling off certain amendments, here and there. The 2021 regular session of the General Assembly closes on Friday, May 14 at 6:00 p.m.
WITH TWO WEEKS TO GO, COVID LIABILITY RELIEF STILL PENDING
The House Rules-Legislative Oversight Committee voted down one of Gov. Mike Parson’s top legislative priorities Monday night. Senate Bill 51 (Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville) would shield businesses from most COVID-19 lawsuits, but the committee defeated the bill on a 3-7 vote. The legislation has been a top priority for many business groups and the healthcare industry since the pandemic began in 2020. The House Rules Committee is expected to re-consider its vote next week, and it is possible the bill will then move forward to the House floor for action in the final days of the session.
On Wednesday, the House added several floor amendments to House Bill 682, including one to offer businesses protection from lawsuits unless a person is purposely exposed to a contagious disease, but the bill was laid over after two hours of debate. House Bill 1358 also contains similar business liability language, but was only perfected by the House Thursday morning. Senate Bill 27 received a House amendment Thursday afternoon. With only two weeks remaining in the legislative session, such bills may be long shots to pass and will likely face scrutiny in the Senate upon arrival.
SENATE DEBATES GAMING EXPANSION, BILL FAILS ON SENATE VOTE
On Monday and Tuesday evenings, the Missouri Senate debated Senate Bill 98 (Hoskins, R-Warrensburg) that included several provisions related to gaming. The bill allowed for Missouri casinos to offer sports betting, enacted penalties for businesses that had illegal gaming devices, established a video-lottery terminal (VLT) pilot project, and statutorily authorized a lottery pull-tab program. This legislation was very controversial and numerous groups were actively lobbying on behalf of their interests and all parties could not find any common ground. The majority of the debate focused on the VLT pilot program regarding the amount of machines to be deployed and what facilities they could enter. In addition, the Senate spent a considerable amount of time debating the statistic platform to be used for sports betting data. Sen. Mike Moon (R-Halltown) offered an amendment to place a referendum (public vote) on the issue, and his amendment was adopted by a standing division vote. Following the amendment, the substitute was then voted down as the Senate did not have the adequate number of votes to adopt the Senate Substitute for SB 98. The bill was placed on the informal calendar and
SENATE COMPLETES WORK ON THE BUDGET AND BOTH CHAMBERS WILL GO TO CONFERENCE TO WORK OUT THE REMAINING DIFFERENCES
The Missouri Senate took up the $34 billion FY22 Operating Budget on Wednesday evening. The bills (HB’s 1 – 13) were approved after nine hours of debate. The House and Senate budget differences will be taken up next week by a Budget Conference Committee. The committee will include five members from the House and five members from the Senate who will negotiate to produce a balanced budget that must be sent to the Governor by Friday, May 7.
On Wednesday evening, the Missouri Senate spent time debating the funding of Medicaid expansion. The debate started with an amendment to fund and continued for two hours with supporters claiming the will of the people should be carried out and opponents claiming no funding mechanism is in place to carry the expansion forward. Others believe they should oppose because their districts voted against the measure even though it garnered enough votes statewide to pass in 2020.
Proponents of funding expansion focused on the availability of current funding while the opponents expressed concern about the long-term ability to fund Medicaid expansion in a system that was broken.
Ultimately, the amendment failed by a vote of 14-20. Republican Senators Rowden, Hough, Cierpiot, and Brown joined 10 Democrats to support the amendment. Governor Parson must now decide whether to begin enrolling eligible applicants on July 1. The issue is certainly headed to the courts.
The capital improvements budget bills (HB’s 17-19) were approved by the House and are awaiting debate by the Senate. The three budget bills provide funding for various infrastructure and repair projects across the state. The Senate believes it may be able to consider more capital improvement projects when the American Rescue Plan funding is considered later this year or next session.
House Bill 27 (Walsh, R-Ashland) requires posting notice, required under the Sunshine Law, of meeting times, dates, places, and agendas as well as minutes of open meetings on a public governmental body’s website and social media pages. In addition, public governmental bodies must post proposed and adopted rules, ordinances, laws, or regulations on their website and social media pages within three days after the meeting at which they are proposed or adopted exclusive of weekends and holidays. Also, if a municipality does not have a website, it is not required to create one for this purpose. On April 29, the Senate Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee conducted a hearing on HB 27. No public testimony was presented. Rep. Walsh, who said many people get their information on social media, was questioned how would constituents know which social media the public governmental body is using. The committee took no action on the bill.
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 Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee on April 28, and the committee recommended do pass by a vote of 6-0.
House Bill 177 (Ellebracht, D-Liberty) 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. The bill also includes a House amendment that in Kansas City and St. Louis, in a proceeding for a municipal ordinance violation or any other proceeding before a municipal court if the charge carries the possibility of 15 days or more in jail, a defendant shall not be charged any fee for obtaining a police report, a probable cause statement, or any video relevant to the traffic stop or arrest. Another House amendment to HB 117 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 amended bill also 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 29, the Senate Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee conducted a hearing on HB 117. No public testimony was presented. The committee took no action on the bill.
House Bill 228 (Basye, R-Rocheport) prevents public school districts or charter schools from prohibiting a parent or guardian from audio recording any meeting held under the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or a Section 504 plan meeting (Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973). On April 26, the Senate Education Committee voted do pass on Senate Committee Substitute for HB 228 by a vote of 7-0. The substitute bill adds language contained in House Bill 387 regarding “restraint” and “seclusion” of students.
House Bill 334 (Simmons, R-Washington) makes changes to absentee voting, establishes voter photo identification requirements at the polls and the use of provisional ballots, and repeals notice by the secretary of state explaining personal identification requirements for voting. On April 28, the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee conducted a hearing on HB 334. Testimony in support of the bill was presented by Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft who said the bill “can make our elections more secure without turning away anyone at the polls.” Under the bill, provisional ballots may be cast by voters who do not bring photo identification to their polling place. Also supporting the bill were Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller and a Crawford County resident. Opposition to the bill was voiced by the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, National Council of Jewish Women, AARP Missouri, ACLU of Missouri, and the Missouri League of Women Voters. Opposition testimony focused on the voter photo identification requirements and the elimination of notice about voting law changes by the Secretary of State. The committee took no action on the bill.
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 includes an “opt-in” for people who wish their names to be publicized. On April 27, the Senate General Laws Committee conducted a hearing on HB 402. No public testimony was presented on the bill. Later during executive session, the committee voted do pass on HB 402 by a vote of 5-0.
House Bill 480 (Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters) establishes the “Cronkite New Voices Act” to strengthen freedom of the press rights of college and high school students in public schools, colleges, and universities. On April 27, the House Elementary and Secondary Committee voted do pass on HB 480 by a vote of 18-0.
House Bill 738 (Rone, R-Portageville) makes numerous changes to election laws. On April 28, the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee conducted a hearing on HB 738. In its main provisions, the bill: (1) Gives the secretary of state the authority to audit the list of registered voters for any election authority to ensure accuracy; (2) Does not require employees of boards of elections, employees of county clerks, election judges or poll watchers to reside within the jurisdiction of their election authority; (3) Prohibits the use for commercial purposes of any voter information released by the election authority to the public; (4) Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, the bill requires the use of paper ballots that will be counted by hand and repeals electronic voting system language with certain exceptions for voting equipment used for the disabled; (5) Allows candidates to select poll watchers at their own expense to monitor an election; (6) Requires absentee ballots to be counted after regular ballots when the polls are closed. Absentee ballots mailed to an election authority must be received by the close of polls, under current law, to be counted; (7) Requires photo identification to register to vote and to vote in person using an absentee ballot; (8) Modifies affidavit language concerning provisional ballots to clarify current voter identification requirements; (9) Requires election authorities to count ballots after they have been returned from each polling place in a locked box and requires that election authorities audit ballots to ensure the proper number are returned to the election authority; (10) Repeals law which allowed mail in ballots during the COVID-19 crisis; (11) Allows a voter who arrives at the polling place without a photo ID to cast a provisional ballot after completing a provisional ballot affidavit; and (12) Allows any applicant to receive a nondriver’s license photo ID for voting at no charge with any fees paid for by the state. During the Senate hearing, testimony in support of the bill was presented by a former Christian County commissioner, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, the St. Charles County Director of Elections, a member of the Benton County Republican Central Committee, and the Secure Elections Project. Opposition testimony was offered by the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, National Council of Jewish Women, AARP Missouri, ACLU of Missouri, and Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon, representing the Missouri Association of County Clerks and Election Authorities. The committee took no action on the bill.
House Bill 764 (Andrews, R-Grant City) — Currently, to legally qualify as a newspaper to publish public notices, a 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 764 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. The bill also allows a newspaper that has been purchased or newly established by another newspaper that satisfies these conditions to qualify. On April 29, the House perfected and printed HB 764, as amended, on a voice vote. An amendment was added to the bill by Rep. Hardwick (R-Waynesville), regarding the advertising of auctions held by self-storage businesses. Currently, notice to sell a storage unit’s defaulted property must be made in the classified section of a newspaper in the jurisdiction. This bill allows newspaper notice OR allows the seller to advertise in any other commercially reasonable manner. An advertisement is commercially reasonable if at least three independent bidders view or arrive at the sale. The bill needs another House vote before moving to the Senate.
House Bill 902 (Lovasco, R-St. Charles) relates to expungement or records. Currently, an arrest record is eligible for expungement if the subject of the arrest has no prior or subsequent misdemeanor or felony convictions. This bill repeals that provision. Additionally, currently, when a court issues an order of expungement, each entity possessing records listed in the order is required to close any relevant record in its possession. Under this bill, each entity will be required to destroy any record listed in the order. The House Judiciary Committee held an executive session and adopted a House Committee Substitute that made several changes. The HCS removes the provision allowing for expunged records to be destroyed and also reduces the time to which a record may be expunged after an individual completes their sentence. HCS for HB 902 reduces the time to request an expungement for a qualified felony offense from seven years to three years and for a qualified misdemeanor offense from three years to one year. The Committee voted to 11-0 send HCS for HB 902 “Do Pass”.
House Bill 1030 (Taylor, R-Republic) creates the “Personal Privacy Protection Act”, creating provisions relating to the disclosure of personal information to public agencies. “Personal information” is defined in the bill 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 Sec. 501(c) of the IRS Code. The bill prohibits public agencies from: (1) Requiring any person to provide a government agency with personal information or otherwise compel the release of such personal information, as defined in the bill; (2) Requiring any entity exempt from federal income taxation under Section 501(c) of the IRS Code to provide a public agency with personal information or otherwise compel the release of personal information; (3) Releasing, publicizing, or otherwise publicly disclosing personal information, as defined, in possession of the public agency; or (4) Requiring any current or prospective contractor or grantee with the public agency to provide the public agency with a list of entities exempt from federal income taxation under Section 501(c) of the IRS Code to which it has provided financial or nonfinancial support. The bill’s language allows the Missouri Ethics Commission to release information when responding to a lawful request or subpoena. On April 27, the Senate General Laws Committee conducted a hearing on HB 1030. Testimony in favor of the bill was presented by People United for Privacy, The Philanthropy Roundtable, and the Alliance Defending Freedom. Later in executive session, the committee voted do pass on HB 1030 by a vote of 5-0.
House Bill 1127 (Hudson, R-Cape Fair) modifies the authority of the Office of Administration as it pertains to purchasing products and services relating to information technology. In its main provisions, the bill: (1) Authorizes the Commissioner of the Office of Administration to purchase products and services related to information technology instead of departments. It also requires the Commissioner of the Office of Administration to post notices of such proposed purchases on the online bidding/vendor registration system maintained by the Office of Administration instead of departments; and (2) Changes the required amount of a single feasible source purchasing authority, that the Commissioner of the Office of Administration must specifically delegate, to being in excess of $10,000 instead of $500,000. On April 26 the House General Laws Committee voted House Committee Substitute for HB 1127 do pass. The substitute includes a couple fixes from OA.
Senate Bill 27 (Crawford, R-Buffalo) is a bill that modifies statutes related to county government and other public governmental bodies. On April 29, the House Downsizing State Government Committee voted do pass on House Committee Substitute for SB 27 by a vote of 7-4. The substitute bill added 18 amendments. Included among the amendments is language supported by the state treasurer to change public notice requirements regarding unclaimed property (possibly eliminating such notices in newspapers); and language that condenses information in county financial statements for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th class counties that will continue to be published in newspapers.
Senate Bill 86 (Hegeman, R-Cosby) prohibits the contribution or expenditure of public funds by any school district or by any officer, employee, or agent of any school district: • To support or oppose the nomination or election of any candidate for public office; • To support or oppose the passage or defeat of any ballot measure; • To any committee supporting or opposing candidates or ballot measures; or • To pay debts or obligations of any candidate or committee previously incurred for the above purposes. SB 86 also prohibits the contribution or expenditure of public funds by any officer, employee, or agent of any political subdivision to pay debts or obligations of any candidate or committee previously incurred for the purposes described above. Any purposeful violation of this legislation is punishable as a class four election offense. On April 27, the House Elementary and Secondary Committee voted do pass on House Committee Substitute for SB 86 by a vote of 12-6. The substitute bill adds a petitioning process to present meeting agenda items to school boards, disallows any public funds to be used in elections for candidates, and sets a process to recall school board members.
Senate Bill 91 (Riddle, R-Fulton) prohibits certain offenders of sex crimes from being near certain state properties. The House Judiciary Committee held an executive session on April 26 and voted the HCS for SB 91 “do pass” by a vote of 11-1. The HCS added numerous provisions into the substitute and expanded the bill title to reflect the changes made in the bill. The HCS now includes provisions regarding publication of unclaimed property notices in newspapers; “raise the age” fix; municipal discovery; guardian ad-litem; capital case venue requirements; and county regulation of burn bans and consumer fireworks.
Senate Bill 153 & 97 (Koenig, R-Manchester) This bill is a priority of the Senate and House Republican Majorities and allows for the collection of state and local sales taxes for online purchases. This bill and the House companion bill (HB 554) contain numerous other tax provisions as well. The House Committee Substitute includes a preemption of taxes on satellite and streaming services as well as several other provisions. On April 27 the House Rules-Administrative Oversight Committee voted the bill do pass.
Senate Bill 365 (Wieland, R-Imperial) allows a county assessor, upon request of a taxpayer, to send personal property tax lists and notices in electronic form. The substitute bill now includes: exempting federal COVID personal income payments from state taxes; earnings tax exemption for income earned outside the City of St. Louis because of telecommuting; exemption for earnings tax for minimum wage earners (voters in metropolitan cities must approve the exemption before it would go into effect); income tax exemption as a work incentive and reward for any person under age 23 on income up to $50,000; and allowing a safe harbor for companies having issues with certain paperwork during COVID. On April 28 the House Rules-Legislative Oversight Committee voted the bill do pass.
Click the link below to access your 2021 Tracking Report