Week 11: Legislative Spring Break Begins

In Legislative News, Legislative Reports, Legislative Resources, MPA Legislative Resources On
- Updated

The following is a legislative update from Clarkston Nelson, LLC concerning the Missouri General Assembly’s spring legislative session. It is NOT for republication in your newspaper, although the information contained within could inspire local coverage of issues important to your readers.

Legislative Spring Break Begins

The Senate spent countless hours on floor debate on the omnibus education bill that includes the highly controversial school vouchers and charter expansion provisions. After hours of debate, the Senate gave a glimmer of hope to Capitol regulars, as they were able to compromise and pass the bill.

The Missouri House continued to move numerous bills from their chamber this week. On Thursday, the House Budget Committee Chair made public his draft version of the committee substitute for the 2025 state operating budget. The House Budget Committee will begin their “budget” mark-ups upon return in two weeks.

With no legislative activity scheduled next week, you will not receive a report next Friday, but reporting will begin again the following week.

Budget Update

The House Budget Committee finally convened this week to allow Chairman Cody Smith (R-Carthage) to present his proposed changes to the FY25 budget. Within this document, the Budget Chairman typically makes large sweeping changes across the seventeen budget bills. Chairman Smith provided a high-level overview of the changes made and informed the committee the deadline for any additional amendments would be next Tuesday March 19th at 5pm. No amendments submitted after the deadline will be considered. The committee is scheduled to begin the mark-up process at 10 AM on March 25th.

A link to the full proposed chairman substitute can be found here.

Key Upcoming Dates

March 18-22, 2024 – Legislative Spring Break
March 26, 2024 – Last day of candidate filing
April 1, 2024 – Easter Break – No Session
April 2, 2024 – General Municipal Elections
May 10, 2024 – Last Day to Constitutionally pass the FY 2025 Budget
May 17, 2024 – Last Day of the 2024 Legislative session
August 6, 2024 – Missouri Primary Elections
September 11, 2024 – Veto Session
November 5, 2024 – Missouri General Elections

Committee Activity

Personal Records Closed of State Park Campers

On Tuesday evening, the House Consent and House Procedure Committee voted “do pass, consent” on HB 1553, sponsored by Rep. Bruce Sassmann (R-Bland). The vote count was 6-0. The bill adds individually identifiable customer information for visitors who make a camping, lodging, or other shelter reservations for a state park or historic site to the list of records that are exempt from disclosure under the Sunshine Law, unless the records are requested by or authorized for release by the visitor.

Notice of County Planning Board Hearings

On Tuesday afternoon, the House General Laws Committee met to hear HB 1992, sponsored by Rep. Sherri Gallick (R-Belton). The bill requires that notices of county planning board hearings be posted on the county’s website, and it repeals the requirement that such notices be posted at least 15 days in advance of the hearing in at least two places in each township. Notices of the hearings shall continue to be published in at least one newspaper in the county 15 days prior to the hearings. Testifying in support of the bill were a Cass County government representative and Arnie Dienoff, who mentioned to the committee that some small counties in Missouri do not have available websites.

Changes in Redaction of Court Documents

On Wednesday morning, the House Rules – Legislative Oversight Committee met to vote in executive session on HB 2064, sponsored by Rep. John Black (R-Marshfield). HB 2064 is an omnibus civil proceedings bill and includes provisions amending state law related to what information must be redacted from court documents. The changes include redacting information concerning a victim or witness in a criminal case that is confidential “as otherwise provided by statute or prescribed in Missouri Supreme Court Rules of Criminal Procedure or Operating Rules.” It also adds any other information redacted for good cause by order of the court. The committee’s “do pass” vote was 8-0.

Information in Ads for Health Care Practitioners

On Monday afternoon, the House Health And Mental Health Policy Committee gathered to hear testimony on HB 2534, sponsored by Rep. Lisa Thomas (R-Lake Ozark). Under HB 2534, any advertisements for the services of a health care practitioner must include the health care practitioner’s full name and title. Also, any ad that refers to board certification must include the entire name of the board that issued the certification to the health care practitioner. No ads can include any fraudulent misrepresentations of information relating to the practitioner. HB 2534 also specifies that a practitioner must display a copy of his or her license in a prominent place in an office area visible to current and prospective patients and when seeing patients, must wear a name badge or some other form of ID that clearly discloses name, licensure information, and if applicable, medical staff position. Testimony in support of the bill was presented by Dr. George Hubbell, MD, on behalf of the Missouri State Medical Association; the Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Emergency Room Physicians, the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, and the Missouri Academy of Family Physicians. Testimony included that HB 2534 is to prevent confusion that comes in advertisements, that the bill helps make it clear who a patient is meeting with because of their credentials, and that the bill is to stop intentional, fraudulent advertising. Testimony in opposition to the bill was offered by the Missouri Chiropractic Physicians Association, the Missouri Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the Association of Missouri Nurse Practitioners, the Hannibal Regional Health Care System, Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists, Missouri Nurses Association, and Missouri Hospital Association. An attorney who said he represents many clients in the medical community testified that the “patient-provider relationship issues in the bill are a First Amendment protection and regulation of commercial speech for the provider.” Another witness said nurses, for instance, could be liable for advertising decisions made without their consent under the bill.

Condensed County Financial Statement

On Tuesday morning, the House Local Government Committee met in executive session and voted “do pass” by a vote of 10-0 on HB 2571, sponsored by Rep. Peggy McGaugh (R-Carrollton), a bill that requires a condensed county financial statement to be published on or before June 30 each year in local newspapers in all counties of the first, second, third, or fourth classification. The bill is identical to SB 1362, sponsored by Sen. Sandy Crawford (R-Buffalo). The bill language includes publication of the name and current gross annual salary of each elected or appointed county official. Another portion of the bill deals with political subdivisions that fail to submit their required annual financial statements to the State Auditor currently are fined $500 a day. The bill allows for a reduction or elimination of the fine under certain circumstances.

Water Usage

The House Rural Community Development Committee convened Monday afternoon to consider passage of HB 2669 sponsored by Representative Dane Diehl (R – Butler). The bill relates to water usage and says user information provided by a user using at least 100,000 gallons of water a day to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Geological Survey Division is confidential and cannot be released by the Division to the public or disclosed in response to a records request. During discussion, substitute language was adopted which specifies that information may only be released if an attorney files a motion and even then, there is specific information the Division may release. Once modified, the committee passed the bill by a 5-3 vote.

Deleting Newspaper Notices From Self-Storage Sales

The Senate Emerging Issues Committee gathered Tuesday morning to hear SB 938, sponsored by Sen. Justin Brown (R-Rolla). The bill modifies the public notice requirements by an operator of a self-service storage facility for the auction sale of personal property of an occupant in default. SB 938 allows the storage facility operator to advertise the auction in the classified section of a newspaper prior to the sale, OR the operator may instead advertise in any other commercially reasonable manner such as online. The advertisement is “commercially reasonable” if at least three independent bidders attend the sale. Testimony in support of the bill was presented by the Missouri Self Storage Owners Association and the American Self Storage Association. The self-storage business owner said he has been in the business for 15 years and “nobody wins when we go to auction.” He said selling items stored in a unit “is a painful and costly process.” He said some newspapers are in communities an hour away from some self-storage locations. The other witness said getting buyers from the newspaper ads does not work, and the extra cost does not attract bidders. Testimony in opposition to SB 938 was presented by Mark Maassen, Executive Director of Missouri Press Association, who highlighted newspapers’ documentation in print, sworn affidavits, their independent third-party position in publishing notices, and transparency. He said the association’s website, MoPublicNotices.com, publishes online every public notice printed in newspapers, and more than 500,000 hits were received by the website last year.

Sunshine Exemption for State Park Campers

The Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee met Tuesday morning to vote in executive session on SB 1019, sponsored by Sen. Justin Brown (R-Rolla). The bill was voted “do pass” by a vote of 6-0. SB 1019 authorizes a public governmental body to close records, meetings, and votes that relate to individually identifiable customer information for visitors who make a camping, lodging, or shelter reservation for a Missouri State Park or State Historic Site, unless the records are requested by the visitor or authorized for release by the visitor. The purpose of the bill is to protect a park guest’s privacy in case someone seeks the guest’s home address to do harm or damage to the guest or to the guest’s property. When previously questioned, TJ Graven of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources said state park guests cannot reserve a site for more than 15 days per month.

Powers of the State Auditor 

The Senate Governmental Accountability Committee convened Thursday morning to consider passage of SB 1048, sponsored by Senator Travis Fitzwater (R-Holts Summit). The bill is the Senate companion to HB 2111, sponsored by Representative Phil Christofanelli (R-St. Peters) and provides that the Auditor may audit all or part of any political subdivision or government entity if, after an investigation, the auditor believes improper governmental activity has occurred. Additionally, the bill provides the Auditor with subpoena power and allows for the auditing of County Collectors and Insurance Funds. During committee discussion, a committee substitute was adopted to repeal requirement to duplicate an audit already done by insurance companies, and specifies they need to only report the findings of the audit. It also adds records relating to reports of allegations and improper governmental activities to the list of records exempt from disclosure. Once modified, the committee passed the bill by a 7-0 vote.

Presidential Preference Primary

On Monday afternoon, the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee met to hear testimony on SB 1120, sponsored by Sen. Jill Carter (R-Granby). SB 1120 would again establish a presidential preference primary election in Missouri to be held on the first Tuesday in March of each year in which a presidential election is held. The statute would become effective on Jan. 1, 2025. Sen. Carter said she had recently received several calls from frustrated constituents, asking why Missouri had done away with the primary election, replacing it with party caucuses. Sen. Sandy Crawford (R-Buffalo) asked Sen. Carter, why spend $6 million or $7 million (the state’s cost of such an election) for nothing? Testifying in support of SB 1120 were the Democrat Director and Republican Director of Elections for St. Louis County, the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, and the ACLU of Missouri. Trish Vincent and Scott Clark presented information only testimony from the Secretary of State’s office.

Review of School Staff Training Materials

The Senate Select Committee on Empowering Missouri Parents and Children convened on Tuesday morning to discuss SB 1203, sponsored by Senator Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R-Arnold). The bill requires school districts and charter schools to post staff training, instructional aides, and curricular materials on topics including nondiscrimination, diversity, equity, and inclusion on the district’s website and expands the purview of the Missouri Attorney General’s Office to enforce provisions of the law and investigate allegations of noncompliance. A private citizen provided supporting testimony. The ACLU of Missouri and MO Equity Education Action provided opposing testimony regarding the provisions of enforcement by the Attorney General.

Changing the Constitution More Difficult

On Tuesday afternoon, the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee gathered in a packed meeting room to hear testimony on SJR 74, sponsored by Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R-Arnold). The Senate Joint Resolution would change how proposed amendments to the state Constitution would be approved. Current law provides that any constitutional amendment proposed by the initiative petition process shall take effect when approved by a simple majority of the statewide votes cast on the measure. However, SJR 74 requires all such proposed constitutional amendments to receive a majority of the votes cast statewide as well as a majority of the votes cast in at least a majority (five of eight) of the state’s Congressional districts. For SJR 74 to go into effect, it must be approved by voters statewide by a simple majority vote. Sen. Coleman said the SJR was passed the Senate by deleting some of the provisions in her original bill. Deleted was “ballot candy” that would have asked voters if they want to bar non-citizens from voting and ban foreign entities from contributing to or sponsoring constitutional amendments. She said Tuesday she hopes the House will “improve” the SJR by adding back in some of the deletions. Rep. David Tyson Smith (D-Columbia) said SJR 74 is a ploy to sabotage the Missouri initiative petition process. Sen. Coleman said the SJR “is not only about abortion.” Sen. Coleman was asked by a committee member, “What are the chances of it passing the Senate if it is changed in the House?” The senator briefly mentioned the PQ (previous question) process, used to kill a filibuster, that is often used in the House, but rarely in the Senate. The official summary statement on the ballot would read: “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to pass constitutional amendments proposed by initiative or convention by a statewide majority vote and a majority vote in a majority of congressional districts?”

Witnesses in support of SJR 74 included: Sam Lee of Campaign Life Missouri; Missouri Right To Life, saying it prefers the language be added back that was stripped off in the Senate and that the abortion industry is a “big money-making industry”; and the Missouri Farm Bureau, which said a 1985 policy by the Farm Bureau suggests a higher number of votes (2/3rds approval) to change the state Constitution.

Witnesses in opposition to SJR 74 were: a Kansas City resident with Stand Up KC who said he wants a fair, democratic process to change the Constitution and it should be “majority rules;” the National Council of Jewish Women, St. Louis, urging the committee to not take this drastic measure increasing the threshold; the League of Women Voters of Missouri, opposed to making the process more difficult, “This is not one person, one vote;” Sam Licklider of the Missouri Association of Realtors; the Missouri Equity Education Partnership; Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, saying it “strikes at the heart of one person, one vote rule;” Arnie Dienoff; and Ron Calzone of Missouri First, saying he is against the double standard, one for the legislature and one for the people. “Anything that gives government more power, I’m against. He said, “This is dead on arrival at the ballot,” when voters would be deciding on SJR 74, likely in August, assuming it passes the General Assembly

Floor Activity

Self-Storage Auction Notices and Catalytic Converters

The House gathered Wednesday morning to perfect HCS HB 1948, et al, sponsored by Rep. Dane Diehl (R-Butler) and handled on the floor by Rep. Don Mayhew (R-Crocker). The bill modifies requirements of the public notice by an operator of a self-service storage facility for the auction sale of personal property of an occupant in default and deals with catalytic converters. The House perfected and printed the bill by voice vote. Another House vote is required to send the bill to the Senate. The legislation allows the storage facility operator to advertise the auction in the classified section of a newspaper prior to the sale, OR the operator may instead advertise in any other commercially reasonable manner such as online. The advertisement is “commercially reasonable” if at least three independent bidders attend the sale. Missouri Press Association is opposed to HB 1948’s original language. Rep. Ashley Aune (D-Kansas City) expressed support for the online notices.

The catalytic converter language added to the bill was originally in HB 2066, sponsored by Rep. Mayhew, and involves persons engaged in the buying or selling of catalytic converters or their component parts. Junk or scrap metal purchasers, collectors, or dealers must keep a written or electronic record for each purchase or trade-in of detached catalytic converters or catalytic converter materials. If the purchase or trade-in includes a detached catalytic converter, the seller must be a bona fide auto repair shop or there must be an affidavit that says the detached catalytic converter was acquired lawfully, and the record must include the make, model, year, and vehicle ID number of the vehicle from which the detached catalytic converter originated. Conviction of violating this section shall be a class E felony and if found guilty the person’s business license may be revoked. “Stealing” a catalytic converter is defined in the bill.

Land Banks, Delinquent Taxes in the Spotlight

On Monday afternoon, the House third read and passed HCS HB 2065, sponsored by Rep. Bill Owen (R-Springfield), a bill that modifies provisions relating to the collection of delinquent taxes and the establishment of land banks in cities and counties, except for cities and counties that currently have land banks. The vote on HCS HB 2065 was 119-33. The bill now moves to the Senate. The bill maintains public notices published in newspapers. The bill seeks to provide a tool for municipalities and counties by using a land bank system to help fight the growing number of vacant or abandoned properties. Communities are allowed to purchase properties that have ongoing delinquent taxes and sell them to get the properties back onto the tax rolls. The bill is identical to SCS SB 750, sponsored by Sen. Lincoln Hough (R-Springfield).

Election Law Changes Move

On Tuesday afternoon, the House brought up for perfection HCS HB 2140, sponsored by Rep. Peggy McGaugh (R-Carrollton). The legislation makes several changes to state election statutes. The bill makes changes to opening and closing dates for candidates to file for office to avoid holiday closures of public offices where candidates file. Eligible voters would be allowed to vote by absentee ballot in presidential elections on election day in the county clerk’s office. Lists of absentee voters with permanent disabilities must be kept confidential. Campaigning would be prohibited within 25 feet of an election polling place, including when absentee voting occurs at the county clerk’s office. Provisional ballots would be made available at any public election, not just federal or statewide elections. Tampering with an election official would be a class one election offense and would be a class B felony if the offense results in death or bodily injury to the official or to a member of the official’s family. A House floor amendment to the bill requires ballot measures relating to taxation to be labeled numerically or alphabetically in the order they are submitted. Also, any ballot measure seeking to change tax on real property shall estimate the effect of the proposed change within the ballot language. The bill was perfected and printed by a voice vote. Another House vote is needed to send the bill to the Senate.

Upcoming Hearings

House-Budget
03/25/2024 10:00 AM
Committee Hearing, HR 3
Markup of House Committee Substitutes.
Executive Session:
HB2002-2020 Smith – APPROPRIATION BILL

House-Rules-Administrative Oversight
03/25/2024 2:00 PM
Committee Hearing, HR 4
Executive Session:
HB2314 Brown – Creates provisions for master agreements between the office of administration for architecture, engineering, or land-surveying
HB2571 McGaugh – Modifies provisions relating to financial statements of certain local governments

Senate-Local Government and Elections
03/25/2024 2:00 PM
Committee Hearing, SCR 2
HB1720 Falkner – Modifies provisions of the sunshine law Rep. Bill Falkner
HB1749 Haffner – Modifies provisions for initiative petitions and referendums
HB1909 Taylor – Removes the requirement for county and city committee meetings to take place in the county seat

House-Elections and Elected Officials
03/26/2024 12:00 PM or upon adjournment
Committee Hearing, HR 6
HB1525 Buchheit-Courtway – Reinstates the presidential preference primary
HB2895 Gregory – Reinstates the presidential preference primary

House-General Laws
03/26/2024 2:00 PM
Committee Hearing, HR 7
HB2108 Christofanelli – Establishes provisions relating to expungement
HB2555 Hicks – Establishes provisions relating to expungement

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