Week 14: Senate Passes Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood Services

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The following is a legislative update from Clarkston Nelson, LLC concerning the Missouri General Assembly’s spring legislative session. Use the information within to inspire local coverage of issues important to your readers.

Senate Passes Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood Services

Only five weeks remain in the 2024 Missouri legislative session and much work is yet to be done. Per the state constitution, the legislature must pass the state operating budget for fiscal year 2025 by 6 pm on May 10th, which is only four weeks away. Before the state budget is passed, the legislature needs to reauthorize the federal reimbursement allowance tax (FRA) that expires this year. Without extending the voluntary FRA tax on Missouri health providers, the Missouri budget will face a $4+ billion shortfall that will be needed to be backfilled with cuts to state programs such as Medicaid, public education, and law enforcement. The FRA tax extension has been a controversial topic this session as conservative lawmakers have demanded that language be passed either in the FRA reauthorization bill or as a separate bill that ensure no state funds are expended for abortion services.

On Tuesday afternoon the Senate began debating HB 2634, sponsored by Representative Cody Smith (R-Carthage), which prohibits public funds being expended to any abortion facility, or affiliate or associate thereof, including for MO HealthNet reimbursement. The Senate handler, Senator Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R-Arnold) offered a substitute which removed the emergency clause. Senator Tracy McCreery (D-St. Louis) offered an amendment which would exempt in vitro fertilization, which led to an 11-hour filibuster of the bill. Ultimately, the original substitute was withdrawn, and a new compromised substitute was offered, which restored the emergency clause. After approximately 11 hours of debate, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 23-10 (party line). The bill now will return to the House for further consideration and will need another rollcall vote before being sent to the Governor’s desk.

There is hope among those working on passing a state budget that the FRA will now be passed as the issues surrounding the controversial planned parenthood language have been resolved. If and when the FRA has passed, the Senate is expected to begin crafting their version of the FY2025 budget. As there are only five weeks of session left, rumblings have already started that the budget may need to be completed during a special session as the Constitutional deadline of May 10th may not be achievable. The last order of business for the Senate on Thursday was the referral of all the House passed budget bills to the Senate Appropriations Committee, so it appears an effort is underway to pass a budget before the Constitutional deadline.

Committee Activity

Land Bank

The Senate Emerging Issues Committee convened Tuesday morning to discuss HB 2065, sponsored by Representative Bill Owen (R-Springfield). The bill is the House companion to SB 750, sponsored by Senator Lincoln Hough (R-Springfield). As communities are faced with growing numbers of vacant or abandoned properties, the bill seeks to provide a tool to municipalities by utilizing a land bank system. Specifically, after a qualified period of time of ongoing delinquent taxes, communities are allowed to purchase those properties and sell them in order to get the properties back onto the tax rolls. During the bill’s progression, substitute language was adopted to require notices to be published electronically and publish notice in local publications. Missouri Association of Realtors, Missouri Municipal League, St. Louis County, Municipal League Metro St. Louis, Restore SGF, City of Springfield and Empower Missouri provided supporting testimony stating this would allow for delinquent and derelict properties to be renovated and returned to local communities for productive use and possibly address the ongoing housing shortage in Missouri. Missouri County Collectors Association provided opposing testimony regarding the decision-making process for which land parcels would be in the land banks and having to place advertisements every thirty days is costly and burdensome.

State Auditor Investigations

On Thursday morning, the Senate Governmental Accountability Committee voted “do pass” on HB 2111, sponsored by Rep. Phil Christofanelli (R-St. Peters). The bill defines “improper governmental activity” and provides that the State Auditor or authorized representative may audit all or part of any political subdivision or government entity if, after an investigation, the Auditor believes improper governmental activity has occurred or when the audit is requested by a prosecuting attorney, circuit attorney, or law enforcement agency as part of an investigation. The bill adds a Sunshine Law exemption of records relating to reports of allegations or improper governmental activities to the list of records closed to the public which is to help protect “whistleblowers” who report to the State Auditor about possible violations of political subdivisions or government entities.

Posting of Information Over the Internet

On Thursday morning, the House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee met in executive session to vote on HCS HB 2219, sponsored by Rep. Cyndi Buchheit-Courtway (R-Festus). The “do pass” vote was 24-0. Currently, a person commits the offense of unlawful posting of information over the Internet when he or she knowingly posts personally identifiable information of any person, intending to cause or threaten to cause great bodily harm or death to the person. HCS HB 2219 adds to the offense of unlawful posting of information over the Internet if the information is posted to intimidate or harass a person to obtain financial gain from the person. The offense of unlawful posting of certain information over the Internet in these instances results in a class E felony.

Disclosure of Intimate Images Act

On Thursday morning, the House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee gathered to conduct a hearing on HB 2728, sponsored by Rep. Cameron Parker (R-Campbell). The bill establishes the “Uniform Civil Remedies for Unauthorized Disclosure of Intimate Images Act.” Testifying for information only was the MOST Policy Initiative. After the brief hearing, the committee voted “do pass” on the bill by a vote of 21-0. HB 2728 provides that a person who is depicted in an intimate image, who is identifiable in the image, and who suffers a harm from a person’s intentional disclosure or threatened disclosure of the intimate image without the individual’s consent has a cause of action against the person if the person knew or acted with reckless disregard about whether the depicted individual consented to the disclosure, about whether the intimate image was private, and about whether the depicted individual was identifiable. The bill specifies certain exceptions to liability for disclosure of an intimate image. The bill allows statutory damages not to exceed $10,000 and allows punitive damages. The statute of limitation is four years from the date the disclosure was discovered or should have been discovered or from the date of the threat to disclose, respectively. According to the bill, a person is not liable if the person proves that disclosure of an intimate image was made in good faith in the reporting or investigation of the disclosure.

Deleting Newspaper Notices From Self-Storage Sales

The Senate Emerging Issues Committee gathered Tuesday morning to vote in executive session on SB 938, sponsored by Sen. Justin Brown (R-Rolla). The committee’s “do pass” vote was 4-1. 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. Missouri Press Association opposes the legislation.

Media Literacy, Critical Thinking & Appropriate Online Behavior

The Senate Select Committee on Empowering Missouri Parents and Children convened on Tuesday morning to discuss SB 1311, sponsored by Senator Curtis Trent (R-Greene), which requires DESE to develop a two-year” media literacy and critical thinking” pilot program in five to seven school districts across the state beginning in the 2025-26 school year with the purpose of promoting student’s ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and participate in all forms of media with an emphasis on appropriate online behavior. The St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center provided supporting testimony. No opposing testimony was presented to the committee.

Changing the Constitution More Difficult

On Tuesday afternoon, the House Rules – Legislative Oversight Committee gathered in executive session to vote on HCS SJR 74, sponsored by Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R-Arnold). The “do pass” vote was 7-3. 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, HCS 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 HCS SJR 74 to go into effect, it must be approved by voters statewide by a simple majority vote. Sen. Coleman recently said the SJR had passed the Senate by deleting some of the provisions in her original bill. On April 2, the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee added back into the bill several provisions the Senate had deleted, including: foreign interference in elections, people eligible to vote to be citizens of the United States, and other provisions.

Floor Activity

HB 1886 Perfected by House

On Wednesday morning, the House brought up for perfection HB 1886, sponsored by Rep. Rudy Veit (R-Wardsville). The bill was perfected and printed by voice vote and requires another House vote to move the bill to the Senate. HB 1886 is a comprehensive judicial proceedings bill and includes establishing the “Uniform Public Expression Protection Act,” known as anti-SLAPP. Other portions of the bill expand circumstances under which a limited liability company may be dissolved; establishes an alternative dispute resolution process to which a court may refer, by rule or court order, a single case or a category of cases; establishes the “Missouri Electronic Wills and Electronic Estate Planning Documents Act.” The bill also excludes “criminal proceedings” from the circumstances under which information and data obtained by a probation and parole officer is privileged information. The bill establishes the “Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act” and modifies the amount paid to a juror who serves.

Changes in Redaction of Court Documents

On Wednesday morning, the House brought up for perfection 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 House perfected and printed HB 2064 by voice vote, and another vote is needed to send the bill to the Senate.

Upcoming Hearings

House-Rules-Administrative Oversight
04/15/2024 2:00 PM
Committee Hearing, HR 1
Executive Session:
HB2206 West – Relating to political subdivisions

House-Rules-Legislative Oversight
04/15/2024 3:30 PM
Committee Hearing, HR 1
Executive Session:
HB2555 Hicks – Establishes provisions relating to expungement

House-Fiscal Review
04/15/2024 3:45 PM
Committee Hearing, HR 6
Executive Session:
HB2064 Black – Modifies provisions relating to civil proceedings

House-General Laws
04/16/2024 4:30 PM
Committee Hearing, HR 7
SB894 Fitzwater – Modifies provisions relating to the promotion of business development
Executive Session:
SB1363 Crawford – Modifies provisions relating to county officials

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