Last week the House passed the state budget and sent it to the Senate for review. This week, the House voted on several bills spanning several topics including: ridesharing, overdose victims, motorcycle helmets, among other topics. During the next 4 weeks both chambers will work together on a compromise for the budget that works for all Missourians. Our state’s constitution requires a balanced budget every year, ensuring we are fiscally responsible. We can be confident that the final budget will be fiscally responsible and sustainable for years to come.
On another note, HB 151, Real ID, passed out of the Senate Veterans Committee this week. It should be placed on the Senate calendar of House bills next week.
House Sends Bill to Governor to Allow Ridesharing Companies to Expand in Missouri (HB 130)
The Missouri House gave final approval this week to legislation that will enact a statewide regulatory framework to allow transportation network companies to expand and create jobs across the state. Under the bill that is now headed to the governor, ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft will soon be able to expand beyond the handful of Missouri cities where they currently operate.
Currently, Uber operates only in Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia, and Springfield. Lyft offers services in Springfield. The bill approved by the legislature will allow the companies to expand beyond municipalities that have passed their own ordinances governing ridesharing. House Bill 130 would establish criteria for fare charges and customer receipts. It would also require local and national criminal background checks for drivers; inspections for vehicles; and an annual registration fee of $5,000. Additionally, the bill would exempt transportation network companies from local or municipal taxes.
If it is signed by the governor, the bill will take effect as law on August 28.
House Moves to Protect Overdose Victims (HB 294)
House members gave approval this week to legislation meant to prevent overdose deaths. The bill would give immunity from charges for minor possession of drugs or paraphernalia or being under the influence to a person who calls for emergency medical attention for someone who is overdosing on drugs or alcohol, and would give immunity to the person in need of medical attention.
The bill’s sponsor refers to the legislation as “Bailey and Cody’s law” for two overdose victims whose parents believe that having such a law in place could have saved their children’s lives.
Supporters say the bill would help reduce the number of drug and alcohol related overdoses if people are not afraid of getting in trouble if they call for help for themselves or others.
Those opposing the bill say that providing immunity to those with a substance abuse problem takes away the opportunity to get them into a treatment program that can provide help.
The sponsor of the bill said that similar legislation in other states and local areas has proven to save lives, particularly when working in conjunction with bills that allow first responders or friends and loved ones to have and administer naloxone – a drug that counteracts overdoses to opioids, including heroin. Missouri in 2014 and 2016 enacted such laws.
House Moves to Regulate Powdered Alcohol (HB 29)
The Missouri House has approved legislation that would regulate the sale of powdered alcohol in the same way as other intoxicating liquors. The bill would simply add powdered alcohol to the definition of intoxicating liquor under Missouri’s liquor control laws.
Opening the Door for the Industrial Hemp Industry (HB 170)
House members hope to give Missouri farmers a chance to enter a new market. The House passed a bill this week that would legalize the growing of industrial hemp in Missouri.
Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant with a low concentration of THC, which is the psychoactive component found in marijuana. It can be used in a wide range of products, including fibers, textiles, paper, construction and insulation materials, cosmetic products, animal feed, food, and beverages. It is used in more than 25,000 products spanning nine markets: agriculture, textiles, recycling, automotive, furniture, food/nutrition/beverages, paper, construction materials and personal care. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 16 states have legalized industrial hemp production for commercial purposes and 20 states have passed laws allowing research and pilot programs.
The legislation approved by the House this week would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a permit to growers who pass a background check, have not been found guilty of a felony in the previous ten years, and have never been convicted of a drug-related offense. The Department could also inspect growers and handlers for compliance, and inspect crops to make sure nothing illegal is being grown.
Supporters say that industrial hemp is used in many goods manufactured in Missouri, but manufacturers must import the hemp from other states and countries. They say the bill could be a boon for farmers, and bring new business to the state. They point out that Missouri was one of the largest producers of industrial hemp in the nation before federal law made it illegal to grow. They also say the bill is in no way related to attempts to legalize marijuana. They point out that the THC levels in industrial hemp are lower than the level to be classified as a narcotic.
Missouri House Approves Change to Motorcycle Helmet Requirement (HB 576)
Responsible adults would be able to ride their motorcycles without a helmet under legislation approved by the Missouri House this week.
Current law requires that all motorcycle riders wear protective headgear while the vehicle is in motion. The bill approved by the House would modify this requirement to apply only to individuals under 21 years of age. Individuals 21 and older would be able to ride a motorcycle without a helmet as long as they have completed a motorcycle safety education course or have possessed a motorcycle license for at least two years, and are covered by a health insurance policy.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. Similar bills have been approved by the House in recent sessions, but failed to secure final passage in the Senate before the legislative session concluded.
Protecting Missourians from the Dangers of Human Trafficking (HB 261)
Missourians would be better aware of the dangers of human trafficking under legislation given approval by the House this week. House members approved a bill that would require various establishments in Missouri to display a poster that provides information regarding the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline.
Under the bill, the poster would have to be displayed near the entrance of establishments such as hotels or motels that have been cited as a public nuisance for prostitution, strip clubs or other sexually-oriented businesses, private clubs that have a liquor permit, women’s health centers, bus stations, train stations, airports, emergency rooms, and urgent care centers.
The poster would contain the following information:
“If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave – whether it is commercial sex, housework, farm work, or any other activity – call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733 (BEFREE) or visit the following website: www.traffickingresourcecenter.org to access help and services. Victims of human trafficking are protected under U.S. and Missouri law.
The toll-free hotline is:
• Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
• Operated by a non-profit, non-governmental organization
• Anonymous and confidential
• Accessible in 170 languages
• Able to provide help, referral to services, training, and general information."
We also passed several other bills out to the Senate. These included extending the Organ Donors Fund, a voluntary program to help transplant recipients (HB 105). Also, HB 303 will help protect Missouri landowners from false lien filings. And finally, HB 698 requires the full maintenance of our current state parks before we expand to developing new parks.
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 email@example.com. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.
Serving the Constituents of the 51st District,