Missouri Week of March 2, 2017

 

The Capitol hallways were filled with advocates from all walks of life this week speaking to legislators about their issues.  It made for packed meeting rooms and long lines at the security check-in entrances.  The Missouri State Budget was the primary topic this week as the House Appropriations Committees finalized their recommendations.  The Senate worked on one issue for two days before perfecting the bill, and also worked on non-controversial consent measures to eliminate them from the calendar while the House continued working on bills of a variety of topics.  Only two weeks remain before the half-way point of the legislative session.

 

Supreme Court Upholds St. Louis Wage Hike

The City of St. Louis will see the minimum wage increase per hour by 2018 to $11 thanks to a Missouri Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday.  A new implementation schedule will be adopted to allow businesses to have a grace period to become compliant between now and 2018.  The state’s minimum wage is currently $7.70 per hour.  The high court’s ruling says charter cities have the authority to enact ordinances of its inhabitants.  Businesses that have annual revenue of $500,000 or less or employ 15 or fewer people would be exempt from the city’s law. 

 

House Speaker Creates New Subcommittees

The Speaker of the House, Rep. Richardson (R – Poplar Bluff), created three new subcommittees this week.  Two of the committees are chaired by Democrats.  The committees include:

1.     Subcommittee on Urban Community Economic Development, Chaired by Rep. Dunn (D – Kansas City)

2.     Subcommittee on Police & Community Relations, Chaired by Rep. Franks (D – St. Louis)

3.     Subcommittee on Student Debt Relief, Chaired by Rep. Andrews (R – Grant City)

 

Last Day to File Legislation

The last day to file bills in both the House of Representatives and the Senate occurred on Wednesday.  The final day brought an abundance of new bills being filed.  Numerous bills were filed at the last minute which appear to tackle the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing the minimum wage increase in St. Louis.  The new filed bills would prohibit subdivisions from raising their minimum wage above the state’s minimum wage. 

 

Jeb Bush in Missouri

On Thursday, Jeb Bush was walking the halls of the Missouri State Capitol to promote his education reform non-profit, Excellence in Education.  Many education reform bills have been filed this session.  Elementary and Secondary education remains a top priority for the Greitens Administration and Republicans in both chambers. 

 

Missouri Supreme Court Nominations Announced

Three nominees have been selected to fill the vacancy on the Missouri Supreme Court created when Judge Richard B. Teitelman passed in November.  The nominations made by the Missouri Appellate Judicial Commission submitted the list to Governor Greitens on Wednesday.  Governor Greitens has 60 days to select from the three nominations.  The nominees include:

•        Lisa Hardwick, a Kansas City judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District;

•        Benjamin Lipman, a lawyer with Lewis Rice LLC in St. Louis; and

•        Brent Powell, a circuit judge in Jackson County.

 

Budget Update

The House of Representatives took another step forward this week to draft their version of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget, when the five House Appropriations Committees finalized their budget recommendations.  The five House Appropriations Committees budget recommendations will go before the full House Budget Committee for consideration next week.  The forty members of the House Budget Committee will review the Appropriations Committees work and begin drafting their version of the budget during the week of March 13th. 

 

The month of February closed with an increase in collections up 4.9%.  The positive uptick is reassuring in a tight budget situation, but the House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Fitzpatrick (R – Shell Knob) still believes he needs to fill a $500 million shortfall to pass a balanced budget along with enough to forego future withholds. 

 

Workplace Discrimination Legislation Perfected

After two long days of debate in the Senate, the workplace discrimination bill, SS / SB 43 sponsored by Sen. Romine (R – Farmington) was given first round approval and perfected in the early morning hours of Wednesday, March 1st.  The bill would make it harder to sue a businesses for discrimination by requiring those suing to prove that the protected trait, (race, color, religion, national origin, etc.), was not just a contributing factor to the discrimination or firing, but was the motivating exclusive purpose.  This is one of many proposed liability lawsuit measures that have been introduced this session by Republicans in an attempt to reduce frivolous lawsuits and make doing business in Missouri easier.  This bill was third read and passed on the Senate floor on Thursday, March 2nd.  The bill now moves to the House and awaits committee assignment. 

 

Streamlined Sales Tax

SCS / SB 105 – sponsored by Sen. Wallingford (R – Cape Girardeau) requires the Department of Revenue to enter into the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement.  A Senate Committee Substitute (SCS) was adopted and the bill was voted out "do pass" from the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, February 28th.  We are pleased to report to you that the SCS contains the language MAMA had requested on page 185 and page 208 of the substitute to protect our business interest in the event this bill was to become law.  The bill now awaits placement on the Senate calendar for floor debate.

 

Other Bills of Interest

HB 81 – sponsored by Rep. McGaugh (R – Carrollton) modifies provisions related to employer requirements for employee benefits.  Construction companies with five or less employees can opt out of workers’ compensation.  This bill was voted out “do pass” from the House Special Committee on Employment Security on Tuesday, February 28th.  The bill now moves to the House Rules on Administrative Oversight Committee for review before being placed on the House calendar for floor debate.

 

HB 153 – sponsored by Rep. Corlew (R – Kansas City) modifies provisions relating to expert witnesses.  This bill was heard in the Senate Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, March 1st.  Testifying in support of the bill were the Associated Industries of Missouri, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, State Farm, the American Insurance Association, the Missouri Insurance Coalition, Chubb Insurance, the Missouri Railroad Association, the Missouri Petroleum Council, Eli Lilly and Company, Doe Run, Enterprise, Monsanto, the Missouri State Medical Association, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Missouri Hospital Association, Johnson and Johnson, the Missouri Society of CPA’s, The Doctors Company, BNSF Railway, the Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers,  the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the Missouri Hospital Association, the Missouri Retailers Association, the Missouri Grocers Association, Washington University, BJC Healthcare, Cox Health ,Pfizer, and Ford Motor Company.  Testifying in opposition were the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, Missouri AFL-CIO, and the Missouri Circuit Judges’ Association.  In an executive session the bill was voted out “do pass” and now awaits placement on the Senate calendar for floor debate

 

Missouri Week of Feb 23, 2017

 

The Missouri General Assembly spent extra time in their respective chambers this week debating legislation.  REAL ID and workers’ compensation were two major topics that were addressed.  Missouri drew national attention for an unfortunate act of vandalism at a St. Louis Jewish cemetery and a bill that would target transgender students.  Three weeks remain before the half way point of the legislative session. 

 

Vice President Pence in Missouri

Vice-President Mike Pence made a trip to Missouri on Wednesday as a part of the “Made in America” tour.  Governor Greitens joined Vice President Pence in St. Louis at the family-operated business, Fabick Cat, to tour the plant and discuss Missouri jobs and the economy.  Governor Greitens previously flew to D.C. to meet with Pence about job creation just a few weeks ago.  

 

Bathroom Bill

A bill that would require public school students to use bathrooms, locker rooms and shower rooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates was heard this week by a Senate Committee.  Emotional testimony of transgender students and their parents caught national attention.  The bill has been dubbed, the "bathroom bill" and targets transgender children in public schools. 

 

Sen. Emery (R – Lamar) sponsors the legislation and says his goal is to protect students' safety and privacy, despite a backlash North Carolina faced over a broader law limiting bathroom use in all public buildings. Parents of transgender children told lawmakers the proposal would put their kids at higher risk of bullying and violence.

 

Missouri is one of 14 states where limits were proposed this year on restrooms, locker rooms and other places based on sex assigned at birth, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  North Carolina is the only state to pass restrictions on bathroom use.  The law prompted companies, conferences and concerts to shun the state.  A federal trial to decide the North Carolina law’s fate is scheduled to begin this summer.

 

House Passes REAL ID

The House of Representatives debated for several hours on Tuesday afternoon the REAL ID bill.   HB 151 – sponsored by Rep. Corlew (R – Kansas City) requires the Department of Revenue to issue REAL ID compliant driver's licenses.  This has been a hot-button issue this session as the consequences for non-compliance with the federal law is looming.  Several conservative Republicans oppose the bill citing privacy issues with the federal database and a general distrust of the federal government.

 

Congress passed the REAL ID Act of 2005 after September 11, 2001 as an anti-terror measure setting up standard forms of IDs issued by states and forbids federal agencies from accepting non-compliant IDs.  Missouri is one of five states that have not complied with the law and as a result Missourians will not be able to use their MO driver’s licenses to board a plane or visit military or federal facilities beginning in January of 2018. 

 

This bill needs one final vote by the House of Representatives before moving to the Senate for committee assignment. 

 

Budget Update

Missouri received good news this week from two court rulings that will provide $60 million of cash into General Revenue.  Attorney General Hawley announced on Tuesday that Missouri would be receiving $10 million from a multi-state settlement with Moody’s Corporation over inflated credit ratings leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. The other $50 million will come from a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that allows the state to recoup $50 million from the 2003 settlement with tobacco companies.  The new funding is coming to Missouri at a time when budget constraints are high.

 

The news of the increase in General Revenue funding brought Governor Greitens to announce on Thursday that he would be restoring $11 million to the proposed budget cut to K-12 school transportation and $41 million to the proposed home and community-based services (HCBS) budget cut.  The HCBS proposed cuts would have eliminated services for an estimated 15,000 people from in-home care and nursing homes.  The restoration of funding may stop the proposed cuts, but the House and Senate must approve a state operating budget before anything is considered final. 

 

The Budget Committee Chairman, Rep. Fitzpatrick (R – Shell Knob), filed the state operating budget bills this week identically to Governor Greitens’ proposed $27.6 billion spending plan.  The House Budget Committee will use the filed bills as a starting point.  Once the department presentations are finished, the five House Appropriations Committees will schedule hearings to finalize their budget priorities for the Budget Committee to consider.  After that point, the budget drafting process called, “mark-up,” will take place in the House Budget Committee during the week of March 13th.  The mark-up process provides committee members the opportunity to alter budget line items across the various state departments. 

 

Other Bills of Interest

HB 81 – sponsored by Rep. McGaugh (R – Carrollton) modifies provisions related to employer requirements for employee benefits.  Small construction companies with 5 or less employees are not required to have workers’ compensation which makes them like the rest of the employers it the state.   This bill was heard in the House Special Committee on Employment Security on Tuesday, February 21st.   No supportive testimony was presented.  Testifying in opposition to the bill were the United Steel Workers Union, AFL-CIO, the Sheet Metal workers Union, and the Rail Workers Union.  No further action was taken on the bill.

 

Hearing Notice

SCS / SB 105 – sponsored by Sen. Wallingford (R – Cape Girardeau) requires the Department of Revenue to enter into the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement.  This is the streamline sales tax bill that we have been working on for some time now.  This bill will be brought up for a vote in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, February 28th at 9:00 a.m.  I am pleased to report to you that the Senate Committee Substitute for SB 105 contains the language MAMA had requested on page 185 and page 208 of the substitute to protect our business interest in the event this bill was to become law.  We will be attending this meeting and will report to you next week

Missouri Week of Feb 17, 2017

The legislative week was fairly quiet with the House and Senate debating pertinent legislation in their respective chambers and continuing to hold hearings throughout the days and evenings.  March 1st is the new bill filing deadline that was enacted this year for both chambers.  The procedure is intended to stop committee level work from continuing on new legislation in April and May. 

 

Greitens Announces More State Directors

Governor Greitens announced three new cabinet members this week to lead state departments:

·       Dr. Randall Williams was named the new Director of Health and Senior Services.  He is the former State Health Director and Deputy Secretary for Health Services in North Carolina. 

·       Joel Walters was named the new Director of Department of Revenue.  Mr. Walters is a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and formerly assisted U.S. operations of foreign headquartered companies in identifying tax planning opportunities.

·       Chlora Lindley-Myers was named the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration.  All three appointments must be confirmed by the Missouri Senate.  She is the former deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

 

Governor Greitens has yet to name a Director of Social Services or a Division Director of MO HealthNet. 

 

NAACP Silenced in House Committee

On Monday evening, Rep. Lant (R – Pineville) made a bold move when he silenced Missouri NAACP President, Rod Chapel.  President Chapel was testifying in opposition to legislation that would significantly alter the way discrimination lawsuits are handled in the state.  After approximately 30 seconds of presenting, President Chapel referenced the bill to a “Jim Crow” law.  Rep. Lant turned off President Chapel’s microphone and said he would close the hearing if he continued to testify.  House Democrats have called upon House Speaker Todd Richardson to remove Rep. Lant as chair of the committee for his unacceptable behavior toward the witness.


Since the incident Rep. Lant has released an apology statement and said he would schedule a redo of the committee hearing so all interested parties have the ability to present their position on the legislation. 

 

Budget Update

The House Budget Committee continued holding lengthy hearings this week to hear from the various state departments regarding Governor Greitens’ Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) executive budget requests.  Next week, the Budget Committee Chairman, Rep. Fitzpatrick (R – Shell Knob), will file the thirteen budget bills.  It is expected that he will file budget bills that mirror Governor Greitens’ executive budget.  Once the budget bills have been filed, the five House Appropriations Committees will prioritize and recommend budget changes for the full House Budget Committee to consider.  The five Appropriations Committees are expected to finalize their budget priorities by March 2nd.

 

The House Budget Committee will consider the five Appropriations Committee’s priorities and draft their own version of the FY2018 budget by the end of March.  The delayed timeline will provide the Senate Appropriations Committee with only one month to review the House changes and draft their own version of the FY18 Budget.  The hard constitutional deadline to pass a state operating budget is May 5th. 

 

To review the state department’s requests along with Governor Greitens recommended budget items, go to the following link: https://oa.mo.gov/2018-department-budget-requests

 

Other Bills of Interest

HB 694 – sponsored by Rep. Redmon (R – Canton) creates a graduated tax system for propane fueled vehicles.  Tax rates are specified in the bill and the taxes are collected and used for the same purposes as the state road tax.  Propane fueled vehicles may continue to apply for and use alternative fuel decals in lieu of paying the tax.  No fuel decal is required for vehicles that fuel at stations collecting the new propane tax.  However, there is no refund policy for vehicles with fuel decals that choose to obtain fuel at unattended stations where tax is automatically collected at the point of sale.  This bill was brought up in an executive session of the House Transportation Committee on Wednesday, February 15th and was voted out “do pass” Consent.  The bill will now go to the House Rules Committee for approval to be placed on the House Consent calendar, where it cannot be amended.

 

HB 552, 676, 550 – sponsored by Rep. Austin (R – Springfield), Rep. Plocher (R – Clayton), and Rep. McGaugh (R – Carrollton) changes the laws regarding the Missouri Human Rights Act and employment discrimination.  This bill was heard on Monday, February 13th in the House Litigation Reform Committee.  All three bills were heard together and will be combined into a House Committee Substitute.  Testifying in support of the bill were the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the Missouri Retailers Association, the Missouri Grocers Association, the Missouri United School Insurance Council, the University of Missouri, the Associated Industries of Missouri, Micks Goldman, and Ellis, Ellis, Ammons, and Johnson.  Proponents argued this measure simply matches Missouri with federal law using the “but for” standard.  A discrimination based firing would have to be proven as the contributing factor not the current standard of a motivating factor.  Testifying against the bill were Promo, Empower Missouri, the Missouri AFL CIO, the Missouri National Education Association, MATA, United Steelworkers, and the Missouri State NAACP.   Opponents argued the bill would grant immunity to the employer and allow for easier discrimination based firings.  The bill would embolden bigotry in the workplace.  The hearing will continue next week allowing the opponents of the legislation more time to testify to the committee.

Missouri Week of Feb 9, 2017

The Governor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget took center stage this week while advocates took to the Capitol hallways to warn legislators about the impact of the potential cuts.  Governor Greitens was busy signing Right-to-Work on Monday at several abandoned warehouses across Missouri and sharing the news nationally on Fox News on Wednesday.  The House and Senate are continuing to work through bills on their respective calendars and holding lengthy hearings to debate various topics at the committee level.  Five weeks remain until the halfway point of the legislative session occurs and it is clear the demanding pace will not be slowing down anytime soon. 

 

Greitens Signs Right-to-Work

On Monday, Governor Greitens signed legislation that enacts Missouri as the country’s 28th right-to-work state effective on August 28th.  Governor Greitens’ signature was supposed to be the final step of decades of work by business groups and Republicans to make Missouri a right-to-work state.  However, hours after Governor Greitens’ signed the legislation, organized labor filed a rarely used referendum petition seeking to freeze the law and put it before voters in 2018.  If enough signatures are collected by opponents of right-to-work, the battle will continue.  The opponents have until August 28 to collect an estimated 90,000 signatures to place the law on the ballot.  If they collect enough, right-to-work will not take effect until Missourians get the opportunity to vote in 2018.

 

Budget Update

Missourians made their opposition clear this week through social media in regard to Governor Greitens proposed healthcare budget changes.  Healthcare advocates united to express opposition to the changes being proposed to in-home services and nursing home care.  Overall, the roughly $600 million of proposed reductions has caused anxiety among many legislators.  Everyone understands the terrible budget reality the state is facing, but no entity, program, or service wants to bear the brunt of the solution. 

 

The Governor’s proposed budget would implement a higher need to qualify for state-funded care for elderly and disabled Missourians.  Advocates estimate 15,000-20,000 Missourians would lose their care and the state would save $45 million by requiring people to display more severe disability to qualify for in-home care or nursing home services.  At this time, Governor Greitens has not mentioned these proposed cuts publicly and it is unknown if the House or Senate will enact the proposal into their versions of the state Fiscal Year 2018 budget. 

 

A lengthy discussion about the proposed healthcare changes was led by Sen. Schaaf (R – St. Joseph), on Tuesday, during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing with the State Acting Budget Director, Dan Haug.  Sen. Schaaf commented that the state is cutting the most vulnerable population being served through in-home and nursing home services and instead paying to expand managed care for moms and children who are already receiving care through a fee-for-service model.  He recommended that the state not allocate between $35-$42 million to initiate the expansion, but rather use the funding to stop the destruction being proposed by the Governor to the state’s most vulnerable population receiving in-home and or nursing home care. 

 

Other proposed cuts to elementary and secondary school transportation and higher education institutions were also a point of concern raised by legislators this week.  The proposed cuts will harm Missourians and legislators are contemplating how to make the least negative impact to their constituents.   

 

The Governor’s proposed budget will continue to be a point of discussion over the month of February as the House Budget Committee meets with each state department.  Once they complete hearing from the various state departments, the committee will tackle drafting their own version of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget. 

 

Applicants for Supreme Court Judge

The Missouri Bar and Governor Greitens have a long list of applicants to consider to become the next individual nominated to the Missouri Supreme Court.  A list of 31 Missourians was made public this week who are seeking to be considered to replace Judge Richard B. Teitelman who passed away late last year. The applicants include

Missouri Week of Feb 3, 2017

The Missouri General Assembly officially passed a bill that would make Missouri a Right-to-Work state and is continuing to work on other priority legislation such as ethics reform, tort reform, and prevailing wage.  With the Legislative Spring Break only six weeks away, the House and Senate are making quick strides to accomplish their legislative priorities. 

 

Greitens’ Calls-out Hoskins and Wieland

On Monday evening, the Missouri Senate spent seven hours discussing legislation that would reject a pay increase for elected officials.  The Independent Citizens’ Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials recommended a 2% pay increase for lawmakers that would cost the state $1 million over two years.   The House passed the measure to reject the recommended increase in January without any issue.  Ultimately, the Senate passed it as well by a vote of 25-2.  However, that vote did not come without some scathing comments made by Governor Greitens in closed door meetings with Sen. Hoskins (R – Warrensburg) and Sen. Wieland (R – Imperial) for their ‘no’ votes on the measure.  The two Senators held their ground and their beliefs that a pay increase is needed in order to attract the top possible candidates to run for office in the state of Missouri. 

 

Governor Greitens took to Facebook the following day to criticize the Missouri Senate for spending so much time talking about paying themselves more and referred to the debate as, “a pathetic display.”  After the social media posts by the Governor, many Senators voiced their opinions that they did not appreciate the Governor’s comments and disrespect to the upper chamber. 

 

Right-to-Work

The Missouri House of Representatives passed the Senate’s version of Right-to-Work this week, making it the first bill to move to Governor Greitens’ desk.  SS #2 / SB 19 gives employees the right to maintain employment without having to pay for any part of the cost of union representation.  The measure also includes a grandfather clause for any agreement between an employer and a labor organization entered into before the effective date of Right-to-Work being implemented in the state.  This will become effective on August 28, 2017.

 

Governor Greitens is expected to sign the bill and make Missouri the 28th Right-to-Work state in the United States.

 

Tort Reform

The House of Representatives got started on another Republican priority of the year by working on potential tort reform measures this week.  Over thirty bills related to tort reform have been filed so far this session.  Republicans believe in order to attract new businesses to the state and retain current companies, the state must tighten its litigation laws. 

 

Missouri Budget

Governor Greitens unveiled his Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Budget on Thursday, February 2nd.  Traditionally, Governor’s budgets are presented during the State of the State address. Greitens took a new approach and presented his budget two weeks after the State of the State Address at a public school in Nixa, Missouri.  You may review his proposed FY18 executive budget per department at the following link:  https://oa.mo.gov/fiscal-year-2018-executive-budget

 

Governor Greitens’ speech began with blame and finger pointing toward “insiders, special interests, and lobbyists” for creating the state’s budget mess.   He never mentioned the reality that our states poor revenue and tax collections as being the driving force to the current unhealthy budget situation.  The month of January data shows positive growth is occurring in the state, but so far it is not enough to make up for the gap between income versus expenses.

 

The proposed budget cuts $572 million in spending across state programs and services and eliminates 188 state jobs from the payrolls.  The Governor says he is committed to using the state’s taxpayer dollars wisely while continuing to maintain our AAA credit rating.  He vows to make the tough decisions needed to bring new higher-paying jobs to our state. 

 

The Governor’s core priorities that are being protected in the proposed budget include funding for K-12 education, public safety, domestic violence shelters, fighting the state’s opioid epidemic, and children with special needs.  The proposed budget will go before the House Budget Committee as early as next week.   Committee members will have the opportunity to hear from each department to explain each item or reduction proposed by Governor Greitens.

 

Other Bills of Interest

SCS / SB 43 – sponsored by Sen. Romine (R – Farmington) modifies and creates new provisions relating to unlawful discrimination practices.  This bill was voted out “do pass” from the Senate Small Business and Industry Committee on Tuesday, January 31st.  The bill now awaits placement on the Senate calendar for debate.

 

HB 153 – sponsored by Rep. Corlew (R – Kansas City) modifies provisions relating to expert witnesses.  This bill was given first round approval on the House Floor on Tuesday, January 31st with one amendment.  The amendment excludes the probate division and all actions in which there is no right to a jury trial.  On Thursday, February 2nd the bill was third read and passed on the House floor and now moves to the Senate to await committee assignment.

 

Hearing Notice

SB 105 – sponsored by Sen. Wallingford is the streamline sales tax bill.  This bill will be heard next Tuesday, February 7th at 8:30 a.m. in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Missouri for Week of January 26, 2017

The Missouri Capitol drew large crowds this week as committees worked on passionate topics such as the opioid epidemic occurring in our state, utility reform, and organizations pleading for state funding support.  The Senate passed its version of Right-to-Work and the House passed its third Republican priority to allow ride-hailing companies to do business in the state.  The fast pace continues as Republican priority legislation is sailing through the legislative process. 

 

Governor’s Committee for Simple, Fair, and Low Taxes

On Wednesday, Governor Greitens announced he was creating a committee to study and recommend how to reform the state’s tax rates and credits.  The committee was created by executive order.  The panel will be charged to compare Missouri’s tax credit programs and tax rates to other similar states and assess the economic impact.  Committee members will include four Missourians selected by Governor Greitens, three selected by the state Senate President Pro Tem and three selected by the House Speaker. 

 

State of the Judiciary

Missouri Chief Justice Breckenridge spoke to a joint session of the Missouri House of Representatives and the Missouri Senate on Tuesday to present the annual State of the Judiciary.  In her final address, Chief Justice Breckenridge brought to light several factors that she would like legislators to consider improving including the growing pretrial incarcerations of low-income citizens that cannot afford to pay bonds, lowest average government employee salary of any state, and the need to be cautious about publicizing court documents online.  She also asked policy makers not to view calls for tort reform as disapproval of the state’s judicial system. 

 

The Appellate Judicial Commission is currently working to identify a replacement for Supreme Court Judge Richard Teitelman, who passed away on November 29th.  The commission is responsible for recommending finalists to Governor Greitens for consideration. 

 

Real ID 

Last week the Senate worked on a bill that would adopt the federally-approved identification known as Real ID.  This week, the House took a turn at working on the topic. Missouri is one of five states that still needs to pass legislation in order to become complaint with the federal standard.  If Missouri does not pass legislation to bring our state into compliance by January 2018, any Missourian seeking to fly on a commercial plane or access a military base would be required to use a passport.  State-issued licenses would no longer be permitted.  

 

During the hearing in the House Committee on Government Efficiency this week, Rep. Kidd (R – Independence) voiced concern that the legislation violates 4th amendment rights and said he cannot support the legislation. 

 

The Senate bills, SB 37 and SB 244, are sponsored by Senator’s Silvey (R – Kansas City) and Rowden (R – Columbia).  The matching House bill, HB 151, is sponsored by Rep. Corlew (R – Kansas City).  The bills have not been voted out of their respective committees at the time of this report.  

 

Ride-hailing Companies Gain Traction

Legislation designed to make it easier for transportation network companies, such as UBER and Lyft, to do business in Missouri passed through the Missouri House of Representatives this week.  The topic is a House priority and moved swiftly as a result.  Similar to last year’s legislation that was ultimately held up in the Missouri Senate, it would require companies to pay an annual $5,000 fee to the state, without any local or municipal fees or taxes, and allows for the companies to conduct their own background checks.  Taxicab companies are open to the competition, but are asking for the same regulatory breaks that the legislature is considering for the popular UBER and Lyft service providers.  The main sticking point in regard to fairness boils down to fingerprint background checks.  The legislation now moves to the Senate where it will be assigned to a committee for consideration. 

 

Right-to-Work Gets Senate Approval

This week, the Missouri Senate brought the Right-to-Work legislation up for debate for a short period after Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Walsh (D – St. Louis), showed that she was ready to filibuster the bill.  The sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Brown (R – Rolla), says the bill is necessary to ensure the freedom of workers and to encourage corporations and businesses to come to Missouri.  The bill, SS#2 / SB19, was ultimately brought back up and given approval on Thursday, January 26th, by a vote of 21 to 12.  A grandfather clause was included that exempts contracts that were entered into before the legislation’s effective date of August 28. The bill remains a high priority of the Republican-led General Assembly and Governor Greitens.

 

Keep in mind, the House version of Right-to-Work is awaiting Senate Committee assignment and the Senate version is awaiting House committee assignment. 

 

The President of the Missouri AFL-CIO has submitted multiple initiative petitions to go on the ballot in 2018 that would ask Missourians to guarantee the right of collective bargaining between employees and employers.  Lawsuits have also been filed against the language of the initiative petitions calling it unfair and misleading. 

 

Special Elections Scheduled

Governor Greitens announced August 8th will be the special election to replace Sen. Parson (R – Bolivar) who was elected as the state’s newest Lieutenant Governor.  August 8th is also the special election date to replace Rep. Jones (R – Columbia), which was previously announced by former Governor Nixon. 

 

No Pay Increase 

The Missouri House of Representatives has voted not to give themselves a pay increase.  The rejection comes after the House Budget Committee Chairman reminded his colleagues that the Missouri bank account has insufficient funds and Missouri’s state employees have the lowest wages in the nation and should be considered first.  The Senate has not considered the bill at this time.

 

Missouri Budget 

Governor Greitens’ Fiscal Year 2018 Budget will be released next week.  Anxious House and Senate leaders are speculating what they may see from the state’s new Governor.  Some believe we will see privatization of some government programs and additional decreases to ensure we maintain a balanced budget through the lackluster revenue.  The House Budget Committee will tackle drafting the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget first and are already holding hearings through the five Appropriations Sub-Committees in order to prepare.  

 

Tort Reform

HB 153 – sponsored by Rep. Corlew (R – Kansas City) modifies provisions relating to expert witnesses.  The hearing on this bill in the House Judiciary Committee concluded on Monday, January 23rd.  Testifying in opposition to conclude the hearing were the Railroad Employees and the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys.  In an executive session the bill was voted out “do pass”.  The bill was then voted out “do pass” by the House Rules Committee and now awaits being placed on the House Calendar for debate.

 

HB 95 – sponsored by Rep. McGaugh (R – Carrollton) modifies provisions relating to collateral source rule and provides that parties may introduce evidence of the actual cost, rather than the value of the medical care rendered.  On Monday, January 23rd in an executive session the bill was voted out “do pass.”  The bill was then voted out “do pass” in the House Rules Committee and now awaits being placed on the House Calendar for debate.    

 

Other Bills of Interest

SB 37 – sponsored by Sen. Silvey (R – Kansas City) allows the Department of Revenue to amend procedures for applying for a driver's license or identification card in order to comply with the goals or standards of the federal REAL ID Act of 2005.  This act requires the department to inform applicants of the option of being issued a REAL ID driver's license or identification card or nonREAL ID driver's license or identification card.  The department shall issue a nonREAL ID driver's license or identification card to those individuals who object to being issued a REAL ID license or card.  This act contains an emergency clause.  An executive session was held in the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on Thursday, January 26th and a Senate Committee Substitute was offered that would combine SB 244 sponsored by Sen. Rowden (R – Columbia) which contains identical language as SB 37.  The amendment was adopted and voted out “do pass”.  Sen. Kraus (R - Lees Summit) voiced strong opposition in committee and vowed to offer amendments on the senate floor so that the information in the bill cannot be put in an accessible data bank.  The bill will now be placed on the Senate calendar for full floor debate.

 

SB 280 – sponsored by Sen. Hoskins (R – Warrensburg) requires the Department of Revenue to issue both REAL ID compliant and noncompliant driver's licenses and identification cards.  This bill was heard in the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on Thursday, January 26th.  Testifying in support were the Missouri Truck Drivers Association, the Associated General Contractors of Missouri, the Missouri Association of Veterans Organization, and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.  Testifying in opposition was a private citizen from Callaway County.  No further action was taken on the bill.

Missouri for Week of January 19, 2017

State of the State Address

Governor Greitens delivered his first State of the State address on Tuesday evening to a joint session of the House of Representatives and Senate.  He stayed the course with his message of promising a “new direction.”  Governor Greitens’ speech outlined his priorities, but did not include his recommended state budget plans.  Typically the Governor releases his budget recommendations during the State of the State.  However, this year, Governor Greitens is planning to announce the information on February 1st. 

 

The legislative priorities outlined by the governor in his speech mirror those laid out during his campaign, including ethics reform, right-to-work, public safety, tax credit reform and job creation.  Two of the GOP top priorities, including ethics reform and right-to-work legislation, are already moving quickly through the legislative process.  Both bills were debated by the House this week and are expected to move to the Senate next week.  The governor also noted that he plans to decrease the state workforce and in turn increase the pay for those valued employs. The State of Missouri currently ranks 50thout of 50 in state employee compensation.

 

To read Governor Greitens full speech, you may click on the following link: http://themissouritimes.com/37157/gov-eric-greitens-2017-state-state-address/

 

Department of Natural Resources Director Announced

Governor Greitens selected another member of his cabinet this week to lead the Department of Natural Resources.  Carol Comer has been hired and comes to Missouri from Indiana as the former environmental agency director.  She is an environmental lawyer who served as commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management since 2015.  Governor Greitens has many more state department director positions to fill including the Department of Social Services and the Division of MO HealthNet.

 

Right to Work

Another issue high of the Republican leadership and governor’s list is making Missouri a Right-to-Work state.  This has been a very divisive legislative battle for the last several years pitting labor unions against big business but falling victim to Democrat Governor Nixon’s veto pen.  With renewed energy and a new governor who will sign the measure, the House this week perfected and third read HB 91 – sponsored by Rep. Rehder (R – Sikeston) by a vote of ­­­­_______.  

The bill was debated on Wednesday for several hours with only one amendment offered.  The amendment, which was soundly defeated, would have placed the measure on the ballot for Missouri voters to decide.  The bill now moves to the Senate and awaits committee assignment.  

 

The Senate General Laws Committee on Tuesday voted along party lines to “do pass” SB 19 – sponsored by Sen. Brown (R – Rolla), the Senate version of Right-to-Work.  The bill now awaits placement on the Senate calendar to be debated by the full Senate. 

 

Public Safety

Another tenant of Gov. Greitens legislative priorities is a commitment to public safety.  To that end, numerous bills have been filed to both enhance penalties on crimes committed against first responders and to establish an alert system to help identify persons suspected of injuring or killing law enforcement officers.  The House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday heard four bills relating to law enforcement. 

·       HB 57 – sponsored by Rep. Haefner (R – St. Louis County) adds to the list of hate crimes certain offenses committed against first responders and law enforcement.

·       HB 302 – sponsored by Rep. Hill (R – Lake St. Louis) establishes the offense of intentionally targeting a law enforcement officer and creates a Blue Alert System.

·       HB 228 – sponsored by Rep. Dogan (R – St. Louis County) establishes the Blue Alert System.

·       HB 180 – sponsored by Rep. Phillips (R – Kimberling City) designates the week beginning on the second Saturday in June as “Law Enforcement Recognition Week.”

The bills were all supported by law enforcement agencies and the Fraternal Order of Police from around the state.  No further action was taken on the bills.

 

Ethics Reform

The Missouri House of Representatives debated and passed the leading ethics reform bill this week in bipartisan fashion.  The bill, HB 60, is sponsored by Rep. Alferman (R – Hermann), enacts bans on lobbyists gifts to elected officials, with some exceptions.  The exceptions include flowers, plaques, and some event catered meals.  The legislation stands in line with the promises made by Governor Greitens during his campaign and on his first day in office when he signed an executive order banning any of his staff to accept gifts from lobbyists. 

 

State Budget

Governor Greitens took the first step to maintain the state’s balanced budget on Monday by withholding $146 million in current spending.  He made the announcement in a Facebook Live stream just one week after being sworn into office.  The state’s slow revenue growth, drop in corporate taxes, and prior shortfalls has created insufficient funds for the Missouri bank account.  The total in current withhold for Fiscal Year 2017 is $346 million when combined with the $200 million previously withheld by former Governor Nixon.  

 

The bulk of the spending reductions announced this week were placed upon public universities and community colleges at nearly $68 million.  Several other programs and services were also reduced across state government.  You can review the list by clicking on the following link: https://oa.mo.gov/sites/default/files/Expenditure_Restrictions_January_16_2017.pdf

 

The House Budget Committee Chairman, Rep. Fitzpatrick, agreed that the withholds had to occur and feels it should be enough to keep the budget balanced to end the current fiscal year on June 30th.  The House Budget Committee is expecting to obtain the Governor’s budget recommendations on February 1st.  After that point, the committee will begin hearing from each of the various state departments regarding the budget information before they draft their version of the state operating budget for Fiscal Year 2018.   

 

Transportation Network Companies (TNC) UBER

Establishing a statewide regulatory framework for transportation companies like Uber is another hot button issue that Gov. Greitens supports.  He has asked his Republican colleagues in the legislature to work on the issue and put a bill on his desk.  To that end, on Thursday, January 19th the Senate Transportation Committee heard SB 185 – sponsored by Sen. Onder (R – Lake St. Louis), the bill dealing with transportation network companies.  Several citizens with disabilities from rural Missouri testified in support of this legislation claiming there were no or very few cabs in their area and that if they did have a cab service, it was very unreliable.  They praised Uber and Lyft and supported the bill.  St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann testified in support and entered into the record letters of support from the St. Charles area Chamber of Commerce, and the St. Charles County Economic Development Agency.  Also testifying in support of this bill was the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Uber, and Lyft.  The only opposition witness was the CEO of St. Louis County Cab who asked the committee for parity in the legislation for taxi’s and taxi drivers.  The St. Louis Metropolitan Taxi Commission testified for informational purposes and provided some suggestions to the committee to be included in the bill.  There was no further action taken on this bill as there were a number of questions from committee members concerned with SB 185 creating an uneven playing field between taxi’s and TNC’s.  

 

Next week the House is expected to take up for debate HB 130 – sponsored by Rep. Mathews (R – Pacific), the House version of the Transportation Network Company (TNC) legislation.

 

Tort Reform

HB 95 – sponsored by Rep. McGaugh (R – Carrollton) modifies provisions relating to collateral source rule and provides that parties may introduce evidence of the actual cost, rather than the value of the medical care rendered.  This bill was heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, January 17th.  Testifying in support of the bill were the Missouri Hospital Association, the Missouri Defense Lawyers Association, Washington University, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Missouri, Ford Motor Company, the Missouri Retailers Association, the Missouri Grocers Association, the Missouri Insurance Coalition, State Farm, the Missouri State Medical Association, Kansas City Power and Light, Johnson and Johnson, Doe Run, Enterprise Rent A Car, Monsanto, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Missouri Petroleum Council, The Doctors Company, the Missouri Railroad Association, the National Property & Casualty Insurance Association, Shelter Insurance, BJC Hospital, and Cox Health.    Proponents argued the need for transparency in medical cost to accurately reflect true out of pocked expenses.  This measure is one of several pieces of legislation that address tort reform.  Testifying in opposition was the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys.  Opponents argued the measure would violate the rights to a trial by jury and whether someone has insurance or not shouldn’t determine what they receive for their hardship.  No further action was taken at this time.

 

HB 153 – sponsored by Rep. Corlew (R – Kansas City) modifies provisions relating to expert witnesses.  This bill was heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, January 17th.  Testifying in support of the bill were the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Shook Hardy and Bacon, the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers, the Missouri Hospital Association, the Missouri Insurance Coalition, State Farm, Chubb Insurance, The Doctors Company, the Missouri Petroleum Council, the Missouri Retailers Association, the Missouri Grocers Association, Associated Industries of Missouri, the Missouri State Medical Association, Johnson & Johnson, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Kansas City Power and Light, Doe Run, Enterprise Rent A Car, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Missouri Railroad Association, the Missouri Society of CPA’s, and Shelter Insurance.  Proponents argued the bill is necessary in order to increase the likelihood of accurate witnesses in court.  Testifying in opposition so far was the Presiding Judges Association.  The hearing ran out of time and was postponed until this Monday, January 23rd at 1pm.     

 

SB 5 – sponsored by Sen. Richard (R – Joplin) modifies provisions relating to tort actions specifically unlawful merchandising practices, products liability claims, and venue requirements.  This bill was heard in the Senate Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, January 18th.  Testifying in support were the American Tort Reform Association, Associated Industries of Missouri, Ford Motor Company, the Missouri Grocers Association, the Missouri Retailers Association, Heartland Credit Union Association, the Missouri Bankers Association, State Farm, the Missouri Insurance Coalition, Chubb Insurance, The Doctors Company, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the Property and Casualty Insurance Association, the Missouri Petroleum Council, Washington University, JE Dunn Construction, Shelter Insurance, the Missouri Railroad Insurance, General Motors, Monsanto, Enterprise, the Missouri Hospital Association, and Pfizer.  Proponents argued frivolous lawsuits regarding product liability have no positive impact on society and the need for showing real proof of defection.  This legislation is also needed to clarify venue where cases can be brought.  This is another measure consisting of a broader tort reform effort by the Republican legislature.  Testifying in opposition were the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, Langdon and Emison, and The Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom.  Opponents argued the measure would insulate companies that fraudulently sue citizens from having any recourse.  No further action was taken at this time.

 

SB 31 – sponsored by Sen. Emery (R – Lamar) modifies provisions relating to collateral source rule and provides that parties may introduce evidence of the actual cost, rather than the value of the medical care rendered.  This bill was voted “do pass” and now awaits placement on the Senate calendar for full Senate debate.

 

Other Bills of Interest

SB 37 – sponsored by Sen. Silvey (R – Kansas City) and SB 244 – sponsored by Sen. Rowden (R – Columbia) allows the Department of Revenue to issue REAL ID compliment drivers licenses and identification cards.  Both of these bills were heard in tandem in the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on Thursday, January 19th.  Testifying in support were the Associated General Contractors of Missouri, the Missouri Truck Drivers Association, Lambert St. Louis Airport, the Kansas City Aviation Department, and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.   There was no opposition testimony provided and the Department of Revenue testified for informational purposes only.   No further action was taken on the bill. 

 

SB 66 – sponsored by Sen. Schatz (R – Sullivan) modifies provisions of law relating to workers’ compensation.  This bill was heard in the Senate Small Business and Industry Committee on Tuesday, January 17th.   Testifying in favor were the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the Missouri Insurance Coalition, Associated Industries of Missouri, the Missouri Retailers Association, the Missouri Property and Casualty Insurance, the Missouri Merchants and Manufacturing Association, and the Missouri Self Insurance Association.  Testifying in opposition was the Missouri Trial Attorneys.  No further action was taken on the bill.

 

SB 113 – sponsored by Sen. Schatz (R – Sullivan) modifies the law relating to discharge of employers under workers’ compensation statutes.  This bill was heard in the Senate Small Business and Industry Committee on Tuesday, January 17th.   Testifying in favor were the Evans & Dixon Law Firm, the Missouri Insurance Coalition, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Missouri, the Missouri Retailers Association, and the Missouri Merchants and Manufacturing Association.  Testifying in opposition was the Missouri Trial Attorneys.  No further action was taken on the bill.

Missouri Week of January 12, 2017

The first full week of the 99th General Assembly initiated the tightest security at the Capitol building in history, thanks to a new emphasis by Governor Greitens.  Missouri State Highway Patrol, Jefferson City Police, and State Capitol Police flooded the hallways and the perimeter of the building.  Public entrances have been limited to the South and North sides of the capitol along with metal detectors being reinstated. 

 

Red, white, and blue extravagant lighting adorned the Capitol for the inauguration and illuminated for miles.  Country music singer, Sara Evans, entertained a large crowd during the inauguration in the rotunda of the beautifully decorated Capitol.  Governor Greitens did not reveal the cost of the privately-funded festivities, but he did release a list of 87 benefactors that assisted in covering the expenses. 

 

Governor Greitens Takes Office

Governor Eric Greitens, the state’s first Jewish governor, was sworn into office on Monday, January 9th on the south lawn of the Capitol.  He took oath by placing his hand on a Bible once owned by a WWI veteran to become the state’s 56thgovernor. Governor Greitens pledged to take the state in a new direction and to end corruption and violence.  He mentioned his plans to work with the supermajority of Republicans to push ethics reform, charter school expansion, and right-to-work.  

 

Governor Greitens has been using Facebook and Twitter to inform Missourians of activity by his administration.  His tendency to bypass traditional media in favor of social media is one parallel between Greitens and President-elect Donald Trump, who likewise relies on social media to reach his supporters.

 

Steelman to lead Office of Administration

Sarah Steelman has been appointed as the new Commissioner of the Office of Administration (OA).   Steelman is a former State Senator and a former State Treasurer.  She was a very early supporter of Governor Greitens after he announced his candidacy.  She and her husband, David Steelman, also worked on the Greitens’ transition team.  Steelman takes over the reins of OA from current Commissioner Doug Nelson who has accepted a position in State Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office. 

 

Missouri Chief Operating Officer Announced

As promised, Governor Greitens announced his Chief Operating Officer to lead Missouri.  Andrew Erdmann was selected to take the position.  His duties include cutting waste, fraud, abuse and redundant services and programs.  Mr. Erdmann resides in St. Louis and is a partner with McKinsey & Company.  According to the firm’s website, Mr. Erdmann “specializes in helping public and private sector national security organizations to drive strategic, operational, and organization change.”

 

Republican Priorities on Fast Track

Governor Greitens’ and Republicans’ top priorities are already moving through the legislative process at lightning speed.  Hearings were conducted this week on bills pertaining to right-to-work, transportation network companies, and ethics reform.  Ethics reform and right-to-work were voted out of committee this week.  Ethics reform banning lobbyist gifts was perfected on the floor of the House of Representatives today by a vote of 147-6.  It is expected that Right to Work will be debated and passed on the House floor next week.      

 

Executive Order on Gifts

On Governor Greitens’ first day in office, he signed an executive order that bans his staff from accepting gifts from lobbyists and or registering to work as a lobbyist.  Many previous governors have not allowed staff to accept gifts, but no other governors have issued an executive order to inform their employees of the policy.  However, the executive order is of no surprise as Greitens has publicly stated all throughout his campaign and inauguration that lobbyist’s gifts breed political corruption and should be stopped.  

 

Executive Order on Excessive Regulations

On Governor Greitens’ second day in office, he signed an executive order to review regulations affecting each state agency he controls.  State agencies were also ordered to suspend all rulemaking, with some exceptions, until February 28, 2017.  His agencies were directed to review their regulations in order to remove unnecessary and burdensome regulations from state government.  Each state agency must submit a report to the Governor by May 31, 2018.

 

State Budget

The House Budget Committee held their first meeting of the year, on Thursday, to learn the process, rules, and expectations of the Budget Committee.  Chairman Rep. Fitzpatrick (R – Shell Knob) provided a summary to his committee members of the funding resources and obligations that the state faces.  Currently, the state holds a $39 million negative cash balance with six months remaining in the current fiscal year. The negative cash balance combined with operating, supplemental, and capital improvements expenditures anticipated for the new fiscal year (FY18) leaves a negative estimated $456 million ending cash balance.  Rep. Fitzpatrick believes the large negative balance will get smaller after the Governor announces his spending restrictions.  It could also decrease or increase depending on the growth of revenue collections in the future.  Rep. Fitzpatrick reminded his committee members to keep in mind that new spending will not be likely for FY18 due to the negative budget condition of the state. 

 

Governor Greitens is expected to announce withholds any time now.  Up to $150 million is predicted to be withheld in order to maintain a balanced budget.  The state is facing a shortfall that has caused a negative math problem for the state coffers that can only be addressed by restricting funding in the current Fiscal Year 2017 budget. 

 

The Fiscal Year 2018 Budget will get a late start this year due to Governor Greitens delaying his recommended budget after the State of the State Address.  It is expected he will announce his budget priorities at the beginning of February. The House Budget Committee and the five House Appropriations Sub-Committees will continue working in the meantime to hear from the various state departments and their budget requests.  The five House Appropriations Sub-Committees will determine their funding priorities for the full House Budget Committee to consider, which is expected to occur mid-February. 

 

Legislative Directory

The Missouri State General Assembly legislative directories are currently being printed with updated rosters, contact information and committee lists.  Once the directory becomes available, you will be mailed a copy. 

 

Right To Work

HB 91, 42,131, 265, & 314 – sponsored by Rep. Rehder (R – Sikeston) specifies that a person cannot be required to become or refrain from becoming a member of or paying dues to a labor organization as a condition or continuation of employment.  This is the “Right to Work” legislation that is a priority for the Republican legislature and Governor Greitens.  This bill was heard in the House Economic Development Committee on Tuesday, January 10th.  Testifying in support were the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, HTH Companies, Inc., the National Right to Work Committee, the Americans for Prosperity-Missouri, Missouri Rising, the Union Conservatives Inc., the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, the Missouri Century Foundation, Show Me Institute, Mackinac Center, and the Associated Industries of Missouri.  Proponents argue it is necessary for Missouri to be able to compete with other states and attract jobs to Missouri.  This bill is on the fast track and should move very quickly through the legislature.  Testifying in opposition were the Missouri State Legislative Board Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the Missouri Committee to Protect Pensions, the Heavy Constructors Association, United Auto Workers, the Builders Association of Kansas City, Missouri AFL-CIO, the Missouri National Education Association, the Missouri Association of Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local #562, the Carpenters’ District Council of Greater St. Louis, and IBEW 1/St. Louis NECA. Opponents argued the measure is government interfering between an employer and its employees as well as lowering employee wages.  The committee adopted a House Committee Substitute and voted the bill out “do pass” by a vote of 8-4 on Wednesday, January 11th.  The bill will now awaits a hearing in the House Rules-Legislative Oversight Committee.       

 

SB 19 – sponsored by Sen. Brown (R – Rolla) states employers are barred from requiring employees to become or refrain from becoming a member of a labor organization or pay dues or other charges required of labor organization members as a condition of employment.  This bill was heard in the Senate General Laws Committee on Wednesday, January 11th.  This is the Senate’s measure on “Right-to-Work” that is a priority for the Republican legislature and Gov. Greitens.  Testifying in support were the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the National Right to Work Committee, the Americans for Prosperity-Missouri, Missouri Rising, the Missouri Century Foundation, Show Me Institute, Union Conservatives Inc., Mackinac Center, the Associated Industries of Missouri, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Missouri Farm Bureau, and United for Missouri.  Proponents argue it is necessary for Missouri to be able to compete with other states and attract jobs to Missouri.  Testifying in opposition were the Mechanical Contractors Association of Eastern Missouri and Kansas City, the Greater Kansas City Building Trades Council, the United Auto Workers of Missouri, Coalition of Black Trade Unionist, Missouri AFL-CIO, MKCCTPP & The Workers of Missouri, the American Federation of Teachers, the Heavy Constructors Association of Greater KC, Builders Association KC, the St. Louis Chapter National Electrical Contractor Association, UFCW Local 655, Empower Missouri, National Nurses United, Machinist Union, Plumber Pipefitters #562, Missouri AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, SMART Local 36, Painters District Council 58 St. Louis, SEIU, the Carpenters Council of St. Louis and Kansas City, the Missouri National Education Association, and SMART Transportation Division. Opponents argued the measure is government interfering between an employer and its employees as well as lowering employee wages.  No further action was taken at this time.

 

Other Bills of Interest

SB 21 – sponsored by Sen. Brown (R – Rolla) allows public employee labor unions to withhold fees from public employee paychecks only upon the annual written consent of the employee. The act also requires the public employee's annual consent for public employee labor unions to use fees and dues for political purposes.  This is the “Paycheck Protection” measure that is a Senate priority.  This bill was heard in the Senate General Laws Committee on Wednesday, January 11th.  Testifying in support were the Americans for Prosperity, the Show Me Institute, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Mackinac Center, the Missouri Century Foundation, Missouri Farm Bureau, and Missouri Rising.  Testifying in opposition were the Missouri State Teachers Association, the Missouri State Fraternal Order of Police, the Mechanical Contractors Association of Eastern Missouri and Kansas City, the Greater Kansas City Building Trades Council, United Auto Workers of Missouri, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionist, Missouri AFL-CIO, MKCCTPP & The Workers of Missouri, IBEW 1, the American Federation of Teachers, the Heavy Constructors Association of Greater KC, Builders Association KC, the St. Louis Chapter National Electrical Contractor Association, UFCW Local 655, Empower Missouri, National Nurses United, the Machinist Union, Plumber Pipefitters #562, Missouri AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, SMART Local 36, the Painters District Council 58 St. Louis, SEIU, the Carpenters Council of St. Louis and Kansas City, the Missouri National Education Association, and SMART Transportation Division.  No further action was taken at this time.     

 

The following bills of interest to the HBA were referred to committee this week.  We will notify you as soon as hearings for the bills are scheduled.

·       SB 45 – sponsored by Sen. Romine (R – Farmington) modifies laws regarding arbitration agreements between employers and at-will employees.  This bill was referred to the Senate Government Reform Committee.

·       SB 216 – sponsored by Sen. Cunningham (R – Marshfield) creates provisions relating to the registering of roofing contractors.  This bill was referred to the Senate Professional Registration Committee.

·       SB 240 - sponsored by Sen. Schatz (R – Sullivan) creates a statewide license for electrical contractors.  This bill was referred to the Senate Professional Registration Committee.

 

SB 16 – sponsored by Sen. Kraus (R – Lee’s Summit) exempts delivery charges from sales and use taxes.  This bill was heard in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, January 10th.  Testifying in support of the bill were the Associated Industries of Missouri, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the Missouri Concrete Association, the Missouri Retailers Association, the Missouri Rental Dealers Association, the Missouri Trucking Association, the Missouri Budget Project, the Missouri Restaurant Association, and the National Restaurant Association.  Proponents argued the legislation was necessary to clarify a Department of Revenue and court ruling.  There was no testimony in opposition to the bill.  No further action was taken at this time.

 

Streamline Sales Tax (SST)

SB 105 – sponsored by Sen. Wallingford (R – Cape Girardeau) requires the Department of Revenue to enter into the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement.  This bill was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, January 10th.  We will notify you as soon as a hearing for the bill is scheduled.  We met with the Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Sen. Kraus (R – Lee’s Summit) and discussed adding our “corrective” language to this bill while it is in committee.  Sen. Kraus remembered our visit from lobby day last year and instructed his Chief of Staff to talk with the proponents of the SST bill to find out what they thought about including our language in the bill.  Sen. Kraus also informed us that the proponents of the bill had asked him to hold the bill in committee and not have a hearing right now while they were trying to work out some other details regarding the legislation. 

 

Other Bills of Interest

SB 16 – sponsored by Sen. Kraus (R – Lee’s Summit) exempts delivery charges from sales and use taxes.  This bill was heard in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, January 10th.  Testifying in support of the bill were the Associated Industries of Missouri, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the Missouri Concrete Association, the Missouri Retailers Association, the Missouri Rental Dealers Association, the Missouri Trucking Association, the Missouri Budget Project, the Missouri Restaurant Association, and the National Restaurant Association.  Proponents argued the legislation was necessary to clarify a Department of Revenue and court ruling.  There was no testimony in opposition to the bill.  No further action was taken at this time.

 

SB 17 – sponsored by Sen. Kraus (R – Lee’s Summit) phases out corporate income tax over 3 years.  This bill was heard in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, January 10th.  Testifying in support of the bill was the Associated Industries of Missouri.  Proponents argued the legislation was necessary in order to let companies know Missouri was open for business.  Testifying in opposition were the Civic Council of Kansas City, the Missouri Budget Project, the Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Healthcare, and the National Education Association.  Opponents argued to wait and see the full effects of SB 19 from 2015 which created a new method of allocating corporate income between states for tax purposes and we don’t know the impact that income tax cuts will have if triggered.  No further action was taken at this time.

 

SB 31 – sponsored by Sen. Emery (R – Lamar) modifies provisions relating to collateral source rule and provides that parties may introduce evidence of the actual cost, rather than the value of the medical care rendered.  This bill was heard in the Senate Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, January 11th.  Testifying in support of the bill were the Associated Industries of Missouri, the Missouri Hospital Association, the Missouri Defense Lawyers Association, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Washington University, the Tort Reform Association, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Missouri Insurance Coalition, the National Mutual Insurance Companies, State Farm Insurance Coalition, the Missouri Railroad Association, the Missouri Petroleum Council, Doctors Company, Doe Run, Enterprise Rent A Car, Monsanto, the Missouri State Medical Association, and American Family Insurance.  Proponents argued the need for transparency in medical cost to accurately reflect true out of pocked expenses.  The measure is one of several pieces of legislation that address tort reform.  Testifying in opposition was the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys.  Opponents argued the measure would violate the rights to a trial by jury and whether someone has insurance or not shouldn’t determine what they receive for their hardship.  No further action was taken at this time.