As brilliant sunshine streamed across the Midwest bringing a warmer clime and hints of the lazy relaxed days of summer to come, the Session sprinted to a brisk yet incredibly intense end as major, weighty legislative priorities wound their way through the process and left us with mighty successes for all of the people of the great State of Missouri.
I am so proud of the work completed by the 96th General Assembly. It was a true humbling honor to lead the Republican Caucus and the entire House Floor as the Majority Leader over these last two years. We were able to pass legislation placing Missouri not only on a strong economic path, but a strong moral path as well…
“That government is best which governs
the least, because its people discipline themselves.” – Thomas Jefferson
At the beginning of session, we discussed the Blueprint for Missouri that was prepared by the Leadership Team of the House. There were four areas that we wanted to address; Missouri Taxpayers, Missouri Jobs, Missouri School and Missouri Values. As I write the last Capitol Report of the 96th 2nd Regular Session, it has truly been a remarkable session with many notable accomplishments.
The General Assembly continues to be dedicated to public education, on all levels. In these economically challenging times we worked together to successfully pass a balanced budget that made K-12 education the highest priority by adding over $5 million to the Foundation Formula and an additional $3 million to higher education.
As promised to the great people of this state, there were not tax increases. The General Assembly also worked diligently to help out the veterans of Missouri to make sure that they would continue to be taken care of with the passing of Rep. David Day’s SCS HCS HB 1731, by adding in gaming moneys to provide more funding for the Veterans’ Commission Capitol Improvement Fund. There is much more great legislation that was passed out of this house that is going to better Missouri and I am proud to be a part of this truly amazing process.
HIGHLIGHTS OF FLOOR ACTION: The Final Week of Session
Bills Truly Agreed and Finally Passed
SS SCS SB 689, sponsored in the House by Rep. Rodney Schad (R-115), protects the elderly. This law makes it so a person who recklessly or purposely causes serious injury to an elderly person commits the crime of a second degree elder abuse.
SS SB 607, sponsored in the House by Rep. Eric Burlison (R-136), allows that the Highways and Transportation Commission approves funding for any phase or portion of construction or reconstruction of any street or highway, the rules in effect for outdoor advertising on August 27, 1999, shall be reinstated for that section of highway scheduled for construction and there shall immediately be a moratorium imposed on the issuance of state sign permits for new sign structures. Owners of existing signs which meet requirements for outdoor advertising in effect on August 27, 1999 may reset such signs on the same or adjoining property with the execution of a partial waiver and reset agreement. All signs are subject to biennial inspection fees under this act.
Charter Schools are currently only located in the Metro areas of Kansas City and St. Louis where the school districts are failing and unaccredited. SS SCS 576, sponsored in the House by Rep. Todd Richardson (R-154), will change this law so that charter schools can open in any district that is unaccredited.
Protecting Missouri workers, HB 1540, of which I am the Chief Sponsor, specifies that an employee will not be liable for a co-employee’s workplace injury or death. However, an employee will not be released from liability for injury or death if the employee engaged in an affirmative negligent act that purposefully and dangerously caused or increased the risk of injury. This is a major accomplishment that solves a huge problem that has confronted our small business owners for many years. Certainty in the business climate is tantamount to a good jobs environment.
HCS SB 568, sponsored in the House by Rep. Ward Franz (R-151), amends Missouri’s “move over” law so that drivers of motor vehicles approaching stationary emergency vehicles or vehicles owned by the commission and operated by Department of Transportation employees displaying amber or amber and white lights shall proceed with caution by making a lane change away from the stationary vehicle, if possible. This act further modifies the definition of "emergency vehicle" to include any vehicle owned by the commission and operated by a Department of Transportation employee that is marked as an emergency response or motorist assistance vehicle.
HB 1135, sponsored by Rep. Jason Smith (R-150), grants the Secretary of State the authority to make technical changes to administrative rules and will improve transparency in Missouri government by requiring the review of administrative rules. Over time, department rules become outdated or obsolete. By requiring these rules to be reviewed periodically, we can ensure that all agency rules are
efficient and effective. This proposal also allows ordinary people the right to request an administrative rule change. The agency must respond to any such request and inform a committee of the General Assembly about the request and their response. Under current law, these administrative rules can stay on the books of a state agency indefinitely. HB 1135 also requires all administrative rules to sunset after 10 (ten) years. By including the sunset provision, all rules will have to pass through the public comment process periodically, providing citizens a say in how our executive departments operate.
In hopes of boosting the economy across the state HCS HB 1659 & 1116, sponsored by Rep. Noel Torpey, (R-52), will allow Kansas City to establish a land bank agency for the management, sale, transfer and other disposition of tax delinquent lands and other lands in its possession in or to return it to effective use to provide housing, new industry and jobs to the city to help create revenue.
Currently, a court fee is collected and deposited into the Statewide Court Automation Fund. The Court Automation Committee may use moneys in the fund for court automation. Collection of the fee is set to expire on September 1, 2013. The Committee is to cease functions no later than September 1, 2015. Unexpended moneys remaining in the fund will be transferred to the general revenue fund on September 1, 2013. SCS HB 1460, sponsored by Rep. Caleb Jones (R-117), extends the court fee until 2018, and the Committee shall cease functions on September 1, 2020.
SCS HCS HB 1563, sponsored by Rep. David Sater (R-68), allows a pharmacist, in good faith, to sell and dispense controlled substances to any person with a prescription from a practitioner located in another state, provided that the prescription was issued according to and in compliance with the applicable laws of that state and the United States; and the quantity limitations specified under this act apply to prescriptions dispensed to patients located in the state.
SCS/HCS/HB 1758, sponsored by Rep. Thomas Long (R-134) modifies provisions relating to child custody and visitation rights of a person who is not the biological or legal parent of a child with whom he or she has a parent/child relationship. Under this legislation, a person is allowed to petition a court for an order establishing custody and visitation rights. It also provides that if a military parent is separated from his/her child up to 90 days, a court is not allowed to enter a final order after their deployment ends.
In an effort to make Missouri more competitive with other states, SCS/HCS for HCR 33, sponsored by Rep. Mike Bernskoetter (R-113) reauthorizes the “Joint Interim Committee on State Employee Wages” to function in the legislative interims through December 31, 2013 to further study and develop strategies for increasing the wages of Missouri’s state employees.
SCS/SB 464 sponsored in the House by Rep. Chris Molendorp (R-123) prohibits the establishment, creation or operation of a state-based health insurance exchange unless the exchange is created by a legislative act, an initiative petition or referendum. SB 464 specifically prohibits the establishment of a state-based health insurance exchange by an executive order issued by the Governor. This act will protect Missourians from the Governor enacting the overly burdensome, heavy taxation of ObamaCare. This act will be submitted to the voters for their approval in November, 2012.
Current law requires a surcharge to be assessed in criminal cases in which a defendant is found guilty of a felony, a Class A to Class B felony, an unclassified felony and a misdemeanor. The money goes into the DNA Profiling Analysis Fund. This surcharge was set to expire in August of this year. SCS SB 789, sponsored in the House by Rep. Stanley Cox (R-118), will extend the expiration date to August 2019.
To reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect, HCS SB 628, sponsored in the House by Rep. Chris Kelly (D-24), establishes the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect which shall be composed of seven members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker and Minority Floor Leader and seven members of the Senate appointed by the President Pro Tem and the Minority Floor Leader. No party may be represented by more than four members of the
Senate and four members of the House of Representatives.
Working hard for our students with special needs, SB 599, sponsored by Rep. Scott Dieckhaus (R-109), will require school districts to include their annual school accountability report card whether the school district currently has a state-approved gifted education program and the percentage and number of students being served by the program.
Modifying provisions relating to protect the religious beliefs and moral convictions of certain persons and health care entities, HCS SS SB 749, which I sponsored in the House. This act provides that notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, no employee, self-employed person, or any other person shall be compelled to obtain coverage for, or be discriminated against or penalized for declining or refusing coverage for, aborting, contraception, or sterilization in a health plan of such items or procedures are contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of such employee or person. This bill protects the religious freedoms and liberties of all Missourians, one of our most basic and fundamental rights.