Week 9: Candidate Filing Opens, Bill Filing Ends

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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.

Reminder: Urgent action from you is required to oppose House Bill 2328, which provides that any notice required by law to be published in a newspaper can be published in a newspaper or on the Secretary of State’s website. The Secretary of State must develop procedures for submission of the notices and create a specific page on its website that will contain all the notices in a searchable format.

This bill is scheduled to be heard by the House Government Efficiency and Downsizing Committee at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, March 6, in the House Hearing Room #6 in the state capitol basement, Jefferson City. Representative David Casteel (R-High Ridge) is the bill sponsor.

A list of members of the House Government Efficiency and Downsizing Committee is available here. If your Representative is on the committee, make contact NO LATER THAN TUESDAY, MARCH 5! Your contact can be the difference. Even if you don’t know any of these representatives, please reach out.

It is imperative you have a conversation with the Representative or their staff about the importance of Public Notices remaining in printed newspapers. Talking points you can use were distributed Friday, March 1, in a separate email.

Candidate Filing Opens, Bill Filing Ends

This week incumbents and challengers flocked to the Secretary of State’s Office to file for public office. Of the 163 Missouri House seats and 13 Senate seats up for grabs, the governor’s race, along with the lieutenant governor and congressional district MO-3 will be the most closely watched race in 2024. Candidates, both old and new, have until March 26th to file.

This week also marks the end of bill filing for the 2024 legislative session. Legislators have until the end of day on Friday, March 1st to file any legislation of interest. To remind you, for the 2023 session, a total of 2,307 bills and resolutions were filed, and ahead of the closing deadline, we have already surpassed last year numbers and are expected to exceed 2,500.

Governor Parson Updates Staff Supervisory Authority

On Thursday, February 29th, 2024 Governor Parson signed Executive Order 24-04 which designates members of his staff who have supervisory authority over each department, division, or agency. This staff supervisory authority is updated from time to time by the Governor to reflect any changes to his staff or modifications of their assignments. See the attached link to Executive Order 24-04: Governor’s Executive Order 24-04 (mo.gov)

3rd Congressional District

The self-proclaimed state public advocate Arnie “Honest Abe” A.C. Dienhoff, who to-date has testified on 447 bills in various committees this session, has filed to run as a Republican in the 3rd Congressional District. He joins a crowded field which also includes former Senator Bob Onder, Senator Mary Elizabeth Coleman, former Senator Kurt Schaefer, Taylor Burks and former Representative Justin Hicks.

Arrowhead Stadium

The Kansas City Chiefs released renderings of their reimagined Arrowhead Stadium at the Harry S. Truman Sports Complex. The renderings include what the Chief’s call a new “activation zone” and more parking on the site where the Kansas City Royals’ Kauffman Stadium presently stands. The total cost of the proposed renovation is estimated at nearly $800 million, and Chief’s Chairman Clark Hunt says the Hunt family would pay $300 million of that total. The rest would be funded from a Jackson County ballot measure which would extend the 3/8th-cent sales tax, which has been placed on the April 2nd ballot.

Budget Update

There was a flurry of budget activity this week. On Tuesday morning, the House Sub-committee on Appropriations-General Administration convened to lambast Treasurer Vivek Malek for the use of taxpayer funded advertising decals on so-called “grey machines.” If committee members sought an apology and a commitment to remove the decals they were doomed to disappointment. It was an over two-hour contentious hearing which ended with Chairman Scott Cupps demanding the decals be removed or face consequences from the committee.

Additionally, the full House Budget Committee convened Wednesday morning consider passage of HB 2016, which is the Emergency Supplemental bill for $2.2 million to allow for funding the Governor’s Executive Order to send Missouri National Guard members and Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers to Texas. Committee members expressed concerns there was already sufficient funding within the Governor’s discretionary fund and this would cause command confusion as federal troops have already been deployed. After a brief discussion, the committee passed the bill by a 25-4 vote.

The Senate Appropriations Committee also continues to hear from the various departments methodically and expeditiously regarding the FY2025 governor recommendations and department requests. The timeline for the House to finish crafting their version of the budget was expected to be completed before the legislative Spring Break in March but with the delay of the budget bills being filed, this deadline will not be met. It is anticipated the two FY2024 Supplemental bills will be completed before the legislative Spring Break.

Committee Activity

Records Closed of State Park Campers

On Wednesday morning, the House Government Efficiency and Downsizing Committee heard HB 1553, sponsored by Rep. Bruce Sassmann (R-Bland). 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. Testifying in favor of the bill were the Department of Natural Resources, the director of the Missouri State Parks, Missouri Parks and Recreation Association, and the Conservation Federation of Missouri. The parks director said more than 1 million visitors stay in Missouri parks annually, and the legislation is to protect the visitors’ personal information. Rep. Sassmann asked the committee to vote on the bill “consent,” if possible, when the committee holds an executive session.

House Bill 1886 Dies, Then Returns to Committee

On Wednesday afternoon, the House Judiciary Committee gathered in executive session to vote on HCS #2 HB 1886, sponsored by Rep. Rudy Veit (R-Wardsville). During the previous week the bill had died on the House floor by a vote of 58-85. Later that week the House voted to return the bill to the Judiciary Committee. After amending the bill, the committee voted “do pass” by a vote of 13-0. Rep. Dave Evans (R-West Plains) and Rep. Veit explained the amendment to the bill removed the definition of “person,” and background checks for grandparents had been removed. The amendment also removed alternative dispute resolution points that had been raised on the House floor and cleared up which mileage rates will be paid to jurors. Rep. Veit said the changes in the amendment had been discussed with other legislators who had expressed concerns during floor debate. The amended legislation continues to be a comprehensive judicial proceedings bill and includes establishing the “Uniform Public Expression Protection Act,” known as anti-SLAPP.

DEI in State Departments

The House Rules-Regulatory Oversight Committee convened Monday afternoon to consider passage of HB 2619 sponsored by Representatives Cody Smith (R-Carthage). The bill seeks to prohibit funds from any State department from being used for intradepartmental programs, staffing, or initiatives related to “diversity, equity, and inclusion” or similar initiatives that promote preferential treatment based on certain characteristics, concepts such as oppression as the sole cause of disparities, collective guilt ideologies, intersectional or divisive identity activism, and the limiting of freedom of conscience, thought, or speech. The bill was voted do pass out of committee.

IP Reform

The House Rules-Administrative Oversight Committee met Monday afternoon to discuss passage of House Joint Resolution 86, sponsored by Representative John Black (R-Marshfield). Upon voter approval, this Constitutional amendment makes numerous changes to the initiative petition process and to the process of approving Constitutional amendments. This resolution would require signatures from 8% of the legal voters in all of the state’s congressional districts in order to place a Constitutional amendment proposed by initiative petition on the ballot. This resolution provides that voters in each Congressional district shall have the opportunity to review and comment on initiative petitions proposing amendments to the Constitution in a public forum administered by the Secretary of State. This resolution prohibits foreign governments and political parties from sponsoring initiative petitions and from engaging in electoral activity in support of or opposition to an initiative petition. The resolution requires any amendment to the Constitution to receive a majority of the votes cast both statewide and also in a majority of the state’s congressional districts for approval. The resolution prohibits the General Assembly from modifying any statutory measure submitted by initiative petition and approved by voters for two years after the effective date of the change. The bill was voted do pass out of committee.

Self-Service Storage Insurance Coverage

On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate Insurance and Banking Committee gathered to consider SB 927, sponsored by Sen. Sandy Crawford (R-Buffalo). SB 927 would increase, from $5,000 to $15,000, the maximum insurance coverage that may be offered by limited lines self-service storage insurance producers and their associates. Testifying in favor of SB 927 was Randy Scherr of the American Self Storage Association, saying Missouri is the only state with a cap on insurance coverage of self-storage units’ content, noting today’s units are larger and many contain valuable content. Also testifying in support was Kathy Harness of the Missouri Self Storage Owners Association and Arnie Dienoff.

Social Media Safety Instruction and STEM Career Awareness in Schools

The Senate Select Committee on Empowering Missouri Parents and Children convened on Wednesday morning to discuss SB 976, sponsored by Senator Travis Fitzwater (R-Holts Summit). The bill requires DESE to develop a model curriculum for school-district instruction on safe social media use and appropriate online behavior to students in grades 6 through 12 and to develop a “STEM Career Awareness Program” to increase awareness of STEM careers and relevant training or education programs for students in grades 9 through 12. The Gifted Association of Missouri, BioSTL, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, ScienceCoach, and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce provided supporting testimony stating the bill would increase awareness of the STEM careers available to students and help students to learn responsible use of social media and develop healthy online behaviors. No opposing testimony was presented to the committee.

Freedom of the Press for Young Journalists

On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate Progress and Development Committee met to consider SB 1099, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Washington (D-Kansas City), the bill that would establish the “Cronkite New Voices Act” which provides that in both public high schools and public institutions of higher education a student journalist, as defined in the bill, has the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school-sponsored media.

Sen. Washington, the bill’s sponsor, said the bill overall provides the same First Amendment protections for high school and college journalism students as for professional journalists. Student journalists shall be responsible for determining the content of school-sponsored media, while student-media advisors are responsible for teaching and encouraging expression and the standards of English and journalism. No student-media advisor shall be subject to disciplinary actions described in the bill for refusal to abridge or infringe upon freedom of expression.

Mark Maassen of the Missouri Press Association testified in favor of the bill, saying it would give student journalists more freedoms since the late 1980s hand down of the U.S. Supreme Court case, Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier. The case held that student speech in a school-sponsored student newspaper at a public high school could be censored by school officials without a violation of First Amendment rights if the school’s actions were reasonably related to a legitimate teaching concern. Maassen said the legislation in SB 1099 has been passed in many states.

Also testifying in favor of the bill was Jared Schroeder, associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism with expertise in media law. Schroeder said America’s public schools are the nursery of democracy and schools have an interest in free speech for their students. He said the bill is helpful for school administrators as the bill simplifies the role of administrators in overseeing content in news media. And, he said the bill is well written, protecting the school environment, and he noted that all Missouri neighboring states have passed such legislation.

Other supporting testimony was presented by several staff members of The Maneater, student newspaper on the University of Missouri campus: the Maneater editor, editor-in-chief, a member of the editorial board, and another School of Journalism student who said the bill is important to also protect student journalists at KOMU-TV and KBIA radio, along with The Maneater and The Columbia Missourian.

Testimony opposing the bill was presented by a representative of Armorvine LLC, who disapproves of who gets to decide what information is presented in the student media.

Post-Award Negotiations

The Senate Committee on General Laws convened Wednesday morning to discuss SB 1253, sponsored by Senator Holly Rehder (R-Sikeston). The bill is the Senate companion to HB 1818, sponsored by Representatives John Voss (R-Cape Girardeau) and seeks to allow for post- award negotiations with the lowest and best responsive vendor if identified in the solicitation along with the time frame for post-award negotiations. The Commissioner may waive post- award negotiations. The Office of Administration, and Maximus testified in support of the bill. No other testimony was provided.

Confidential Information

The Senate Governmental Accountability Committee convened Thursday morning to consider passage of SB 1351, sponsored by Senator Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Parkville). The bill requires any individually identifiable information obtained by the Division of Geology and Land Survey to remain confidential and not released to the public or disclosed in response to any request. The bill also provides a penalty clause for failure to comply. During discussion, substitute language was adopted which specifies information may only be released through a subpoena or court order, clarifies that all information on an application is confidential and adds a penalty provision. Once modified, the committee passed the bill by a 5-2 vote.

County Financial Statements and Officials

The Senate Government and Elections Committee met Monday afternoon to consider passage of SB 1362, sponsored by Senator Sandy Crawford (R-Buffalo). In 2022, HB 1606 was Truly Agreed and Finally Passed (TAFP) and was signed into law by the Governor. However, in December 2023 the Supreme Court overturned and deemed the bill violates the constitutional single subject requirement. In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, the sponsor has refiled the provisions into two separate bills. SB 1362 relates to financial statements of certain local governments. Specifically, the bill aligns second, third, and fourth counties to file an abbreviated annual financial statement like first class counties. The bill prohibits publishers from charging anything other than the normal rate to publish the statement and requires counties to supply to the publisher an electronic copy. Additionally, the bill provides the MO Department of Revenue the ability to do a one-time downward adjust on fines for political subdivisions that have failed to file a timely financial statement and provides that any political subdivision that has gross revenues lower than $5000 or has not levied or collected sales and use taxes will not be fined. After no discussion, the committee passed the bill by a 4-0 vote.

The committee then turned its attention to SB 1363, also sponsored by Senator Crawford. The bill includes several provisions relating to county officials. Specifically, upon the approval of the salary commission, the bill allows counties to increase coroner’s salaries. Additionally, the bill allows county corners that fill the slot of sheriffs to receive that salary, allows salary commissions to amend the base salary schedule, allows county collectors to conduct tax sales via electronic media, allows county auditors to audit and examine claims, excludes the Boone County sheriff from the current salary schedule, and changes statutes concerning public administrators. After no discussion, the committee passed the bill by a 4-0 vote.

The House Local Government Committee met Tuesday morning to discuss HB 2571, sponsored by Representative Peggy McGaugh (R-Carrollton). The bill is the House companion to SB 1362, highlighted above. MO Association of County Clerks and Election Authorities, MO Municipal League, MO Association of County Auditors, Municipal League of Metro St. Louis, MO Press Association, and the MO Association of Counties supported the bill. A state public advocate opposed the bill. The MO State Auditor’s Office provided informational testimony regarding the fines that are applied in the event a county fails to file their financial statements

Upcoming Hearings

House-Rural Community Development
03/04/2024 12:00 PM
Committee Hearing, HR 1
HB2669 Diehl – Prohibits the division of geology and land survey of the department of natural resources from disclosing to the public any individually identifiable user information contained within water user registration documents

House-Rules-Administrative Oversight
03/04/2024 2:00 PM
Committee Hearing, HR 4
Executive Session:
HB2065 Owen – Modifies provisions relating to the collection of delinquent property taxes

House-Rules-Legislative Oversight
03/04/2024 2:30 PM
Committee Hearing, HR 4
Executive Session:
HB2628 Baker – Modifies provisions relating to electronic communications

House-Local Government
03/05/2024 8:00 AM
Committee Hearing, HR 7
HB2377 Pouche – Requires the county recorder to notify each named party to a document for recording when such document is recorded

House-Special Committee on Innovation and Technology
03/05/2024 12:00 PM or upon morning recess
Committee Hearing, HR 7
HB2573 Schwadron – Creates the offense of and civil penalties for disclosure of intimate digital depictions

House-General Laws
03/05/2024 4:00 PM or upon adjournment
Committee Hearing, HR 7
Executive Session:
HB2314 Brown – Creates provisions for master agreements between the office of administration for architecture, engineering, or land-surveying

House-Government Efficiency and Downsizing
03/06/2024 8:00 AM
Committee Hearing, HR 6
HB2328 Casteel – Modifies the process by which public notice is required to be published
Executive Session:
HB1553 Sassmann – Adds an exemption to the sunshine law for state parks records
HB2206 West – Establishes general requirements for meetings of governing bodies of political subdivisions

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