— Paving the Way for Ridesharing Companies (HB 130)
House members approved legislation that would allow rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to expand services throughout the state. The legislation is a priority of Speaker Richardson, who hopes to create a statewide framework that will allow private enterprise to thrive in a free market. Uber has already promised as many as 10,000 jobs in the first year if the bill is passed into law.
— Venue Shopping (HB 460, HB 461, and HB 462), Collateral Source Reform (HB 95), and Expert Witness (HB 153)
House members approved legislation supporters say will help put an end to “litigation tourism” and the many lawsuits that are filed in St. Louis by out-of-state parties. The bills are meant to stop the large number of lawsuits filed in the state by people who live outside Missouri, who are alleging injuries that didn’t occur within the state’s borders against companies that are not from Missouri.
Otherwise, the House continues its attempt to improve the state’s legal climate in an effort to make the court system fair to all litigants, and to attract more job creators. As part of its tort reform package, the House approved legislation commonly referred to as collateral source reform. The bill is meant to clarify that an injured person involved in a lawsuit can recover only the actual cost incurred for medical treatment.
Finally, continuing with its tort reform efforts, the House also gave approval to legislation meant to improve the reliability of expert evidence that is presented to juries in Missouri state courts. The bill, would implement an established standard for determining when expert-witness testimony is admissible as evidence at trial. The proposed standard, which is commonly referred to as the Daubert Standard after a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court case, is used in federal courts and in more than two-thirds of the states. This bill has also passed the Senate and is on its way to the governor’s desk.
— Protecting Missouri’s Peace Officers (HB 57) and Blue Alert System (HBs 302 & 228)
The Missouri House approved legislation to deter crimes against law enforcement officials. The bill would create enhanced penalties for individuals who assault officers of the law. It would increase by one degree the penalty for voluntary or involuntary manslaughter; first- or second-degree property damage; unlawful use of a weapon; rioting; or first-degree trespassing; when those crimes are committed against a law enforcement officer.
Also, in an effort to ensure law enforcement officials quickly receive the information they need to apprehend individuals who injure or kill peace officers, the Missouri House approved legislation to create a Blue Alert System. Similar to the Amber and Silver Alert systems, the Blue Alert system would send out identifying information such as a physical description of the suspect and the suspect’s vehicle.
— Stopping Illegal Use of Herbicides (HB 662)
The General Assembly truly agreed legislation that is meant to stop the illegal use of herbicides that have caused widespread damage to crops in Southeast Missouri. The legislation would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a fine to any individual who knowingly applies a herbicide to a crop for which the herbicide is not labeled for use. This bill is on its way to the governor’s desk.
— Charter School Changes (HB 634) and Expanding Virtual School Options (HB 138)
Heading into their annual Spring Break, House members gave approval to legislation meant to provide young people in failing schools with additional educational opportunities. The bill would allow charter schools to expand to areas where at least one school is performing poorly, increases accountability for charter schools, and provides for implementation after the foundation formula for public schools is fully funded.
The Missouri House has approved legislation meant to expand course options and access for K-12 students. The bill would change the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MOVIP) to "The Missouri Course Access Program" (MCAP) and allow any K- 12 student to enroll in MCAP courses. In order to give students in all parts of the state access to advanced coursework, the legislation would allow students to take online courses that would be paid by the school district or charter school.
Today, I attended the Northwest Community Services Award Reception at the American Legion Hall in Blackburn. Scott Kelz won Northwest Community Services Employee of the Year! (Mr. Kelz also won September Employee of the Month). Other notable winners were the Northwest Community Services Employees of the Month: Tonya Holder (Jan); Richard Drake (Feb); Janet Vesser (Mar); Lisa Caldwell (Apr); Melody Willis (May); Michelle Heimsoth (June); Eric Shireman (July); Norman Carver (August); Krystal Case (Oct); Kristi Binder (Nov); Karen Rulo (Dec).
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.