Back at the Capitol, we are starting to see this year’s budget proposal take shape. This week, the chairman of the House Budget Committee unveiled his versions of the appropriations bills that will make up the Fiscal Year 2019 state operating budget. The bills include some key changes from the recommendations made by the governor.
One such change calls for the K-12 School Foundation Formula to be fully funded. Also, because of extended Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) program funding at the federal level, there is approximately $80 million in state revenues available for use in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget. Therefore, the budget chairman is recommending that a portion of these funds be used to restore the governor’s recommended core cuts to higher education.
Right now, House leaders are working with the state’s institutions of higher learning to ensure tuition is not raised for students and families. If no agreement can be reached, the chairman is recommending the additional dollars be used to boost funding for need-based scholarships. The House Budget Committee will now work through each of the appropriations bills and decide if any changes need to be made to the current proposal. The Budget Committee will then give its stamp of approval to the spending plan and send it to the House floor for discussion, which should take place when the House returns from spring break.
The House also recently sent a bill to the Senate that would establish a statewide program designed to promote careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The legislation is modeled after successful programs in Tennessee and Arkansas that have helped promote the importance of the STEM fields to young people. More on this bill and others below.
Increasing STEM Career Awareness (HB 1623)
Legislators took time last week to observe the state’s annual STEM Day, and this week took action by approving legislation that would establish a statewide program designed to promote careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The legislation is modeled after successful programs in Tennessee and Arkansas that have helped promote the importance of the STEM fields to young people.
The bill would require the state Department of Economic Development to establish the STEM Career Awareness Program to increase awareness of careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for students in grades six through eight. The program would involve online-based curriculum that would raise awareness of more than eighty different careers and technologies, and would be organized around the concept of solving societal or human-centered problems. The bill would require the department to have the program in place by the 2019-20 school year.
The bill would also require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a high school graduation policy that allows a student to fulfill a unit of academic credit with a district-approved computer science course for any math, science, or practical arts unit required for high school graduation. In addition, it would require the State Board of Education to convene a work group to develop and recommend academic performance standards relating to computer science. Finally, it would create the Computer Science Education Fund to provide teachers with professional development programs relating to computer science.
Other Bills Moving to the Senate
Also, this week several bills were third read and passed out of the House and are on their way to Senate. These included:
HB 2238 would establish the “Social Innovation Grant Program” to find alternative solutions for serving the state's various populations with needs.
HB 1618 would allow unused controlled substances to be accepted from the public through collection receptacles, drug disposal boxes, and other means provided through drug take-back programs by a DEA-authorized collector in accordance with federal regulations, regardless of whether the authorized collector originally dispensed the drug. It would require the Department of Health and Senior Services to develop an education and awareness program about drug disposal.
HB 2079 would establish the "Missouri State Coroners' Training Fund" and create a $1 fee for all death certificates issued in the state, which would be deposited into the fund.
HB 1265 would require all declarations of candidacy to contain the candidate's legal last name. The use of birth or maiden names would provide voter access to case.net and other resources to research candidates.
HB 1797 would establish the Nuclear Power Plant Security Guard Act and establish the offense of trespass on a nuclear power plant.
HB 1525 would change the laws regarding unclaimed property. The bill aims to prevent fraud and excessive billing in the unclaimed property recovery process, while still allowing legitimate recovery actions to proceed efficiently.
HB 1250 would establish the Missouri Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which would allow fiduciaries to access electronic records of the account holder.
HB 1358 would create new provisions relating to password protection.
HB 2116 would exempt certain vessels propelled by outboard jet motors and operating on non-impounded waterways from the passenger seating and guard and rail provisions currently in state law.
HB 2102 would change the laws regarding property classifications for zoning so that sawmills are classified as agricultural property. This bill would clarify that saw mills are agricultural operations and should be classified as such.
HB 1895 would provide that when a death occurs under the care of a hospice, no investigation shall be required if the death is certified by the treating physician of the deceased or the medical director of the hospice.
HB 1613 would allow residents of Missouri to have a medical alert notation placed on their driver's license to indicate that they have an emergency medical card in their possession.
HB 1456 would change the laws regarding funding for emergency 911 services, administration of 911 funding, Missouri 911 Service Board, and the cooperation and contracting between emergency services providers.
HB 2110 would increase the reward a county commission may offer for the apprehension of a felon from $500 to $100,000.
HB 1947 would change the law regarding sale of water or wastewater systems in fourth class cities.
HB 2104 would restrict the use of cell-site simulator devices. Currently, there is a prohibition on the interception of oral and wire communications without prior authorization from a court. The bill would provide similar prohibitions on the use of a cell site simulator device to obtain information from a communications device, such as a cell phone, tablet, or laptop.
HB 2062 would allow law enforcement agencies located in the Joplin area to request assistance from agencies in other jurisdictions, including some jurisdictions located in Kansas and Oklahoma.
HB 1868 would establish a statewide hearing aid distribution program for low-income individuals.
HB 1625 would establish the Missouri Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program to provide low-income seniors with fresh, Missouri-grown produce.
HB 1442 would set a 60-day time limit for the governor to fill a vacancy in the Office of County Commissioner with the advice and consent of the Senate.
HB 1679 would prohibit public institutions of higher education from requiring students to purchase a meal plan when a student presents medical documentation of a food allergy or sensitivity, or a medical dietary issue.
HB 1645 would modify provisions relating to actions for damages due to exposure to asbestos.
HB 1892 would modify residency requirements for deputy sheriffs.
I enjoyed visiting with several individuals and groups this week including: Elaine Bagnell (Blackburn) and fellow members of the Silver Haired Legislature, Linda Fischer (Sedalia) from the Alzheimer’s Association, S&T Chancellor Christopher Maples, Realtors from all parts of the 51st District, and several others.
Members of the Silver Haired Legislature took the time to write several letters to me expressing their support, concerns, and opinions on a wide variety of important topics to their delegation. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
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.