How hard is it to get a bill passed through the House?
Well, there have been 1,449 bills filed in the house, and as of me writing this, there have only been 116 bills Third Read and passed onto the Senate
Good News! Thursday, April 8, marks the 50th day of the First Regular Session for the 101sth General Assembly. On this day I had my first bill, House Bill 604, third read and passed with 153 Yes, 0 Nos, and 1 Present. The bill now goes over to the Senate and has go through the same process it went through in The House.
In addition to getting my first bill Third Read and Passed, it was my pleasure to present a courtesy resolution, along with Representative Dan Houx, to the University of Central Missouri in honor of their Sesquicentennial celebration.
As always don’t hesitate to contact my office if you have any questions or concerns I thank you for your support and am honored to be your representative in Jefferson City.
House Approves Legislation to Protect Victims from Their Abusers (HB 744)
The members of the Missouri House gave strong bipartisan support to legislation that would allow victims of abuse to obtain lifetime orders of protection against extreme, obsessive abusers.
The bill’s sponsor said the legislation “would end the necessity for victims to have to return to court every year to get a new protection order, and incurring the associated costs, as well as having to face their abuser again in court.”
Missouri law currently allows for orders of protection that last for one year. The legislation approved by the House would give a judge the option to grant a lifetime protection order against those who are obsessive and will not stop threatening their victims. The length of time the order of protection is issued or renewed would depend on whether the court makes specific findings during an evidentiary hearing that the respondent poses a serious danger to the physical or mental health of the petitioner or of a minor household member of the petitioner.
The sponsor of the bill, who previously served as the chief of police for the city of Joplin and as the director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety, said, “I can tell you from personal experience that when you have to look a woman in the eye and explain to her why the law won’t protect her, it is very difficult, and they shouldn’t have to live that way. I think this is frankly a fairly significant step to correct what I think should be common sense.”
The bill also contains a provision that states adult protection orders and child protection orders, full or ex parte, may be granted to restrain or enjoin an individual from committing or threatening to commit abuse against a pet.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
House Moves to Exempt Stimulus Payments from State Income Tax (HB 991)
The House has given initial support to legislation that would exempt the federal stimulus payments received by Missourians from state income tax. The bill is similar to one approved by the legislature last year that exempted the first round of stimulus payments from state income tax.
The House Budget Chairman, who sponsors the bill, noted last year’s bill did not account for future rounds of stimulus payments.
He said, “Since then we’ve had two payments in the state of Missouri. Those would be subject to state tax if we don’t change that in statute. So this bill takes care of those and also seeks to eliminate tax liability for any future stimulus payments related to the pandemic.”
The bill requires another round of approval in the House before moving to the Senate.
Bills Sent to the Senate
HB 306 requires school districts and charter schools to establish a state-approved gifted program if 3 percent or more of the students are determined to be gifted by July 1, 2023. By July 1, 2023, districts and charter schools with average daily attendance of more than 350 students are required to have a teacher certificated to teach gifted education. In districts with an average daily attendance of 350 or less any teacher providing gifted instruction shall not be required to be certified to teach gifted education but must participate in six hours per year of professional development, paid for by the school district, regarding gifted services. Supporters say this is much-needed legislation because there has been a steady decline in the number of districts that offer gifted education programs. Missouri is one of very few states that do not require education for those on the higher end of the special needs spectrum. The bill also requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary education to make rules regarding the minimal grade average (GPA) requirement to qualify for the A+ Grant Award that will only consider grade averages that do not have a negative change to a student's GPA from 2019-20 or 2020-21 due to the impact of COVID-19. Additionally, the bill modifies the definition of an "eligible education institution" and changes the Missouri Education Savings Program to the "Missouri Education Program".
HB 1236 establishes numerous funds which will consist of all moneys received in the state treasury under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, or any subsequent economic stimulus or budget stabilization plan as enacted by the 117th United States Congress on or after March 1, 2021, and on or before December 31, 2021, for programs which are to be administered from funding to the state from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Supporters say the bill creates a fund that is setup to receive federal economic stimulus moneys and track such moneys separately. Without the bill, a variety of funds could be used but creating a dedicated fund would be more transparent and preferable.
HB 604 allows any religious denomination that discourages its members from purchasing insurance as being contrary to its religious tenets, but has more than 25 members with motor vehicles, to qualify as a self-insurer by obtaining a self-insurance certificate issued by the Director of the Department of Revenue. Currently, a religious denomination can only qualify if it prohibits its members from purchasing insurance of any form. Supporters say the bill will allow religious organizations that discourage members from getting vehicle insurance to be allowed to qualify as self-insurer and be able to get a self-insurance certificate.
HB 678 provides that in absence of a local agreement otherwise, in any courthouse that contains both county offices and court facilities, the presiding judge of the circuit may establish rules and procedures for court facilities and areas necessary for court-related ingress and egress, and other reasonable court-related usage, but the county commission will have authority over all other areas of the courthouse.
HB 299 adds a rebuttable presumption when determining child custody arrangements that an award of equal or approximately equal parenting time to each parent is in the best interests of the child. This presumption may be rebutted as specified in the bill, including with an agreement by the parents on all issues related to custody, or a finding by the court that a pattern of domestic violence or abuse of the child has occurred. The General Assembly urges the court to enter a temporary parenting plan as soon as practicable in a manner that will best assure both parents participate in custody decisions and have frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact with their children. Supporters say the bill modifies provisions related to child custody orders to make sure a child has meaningful time with both parents. Right now, there is a bias that presumes the mother is better for the interests of the child. Supporters note that children who have time with both parents are generally happier and healthier.
HB 1242 specifies that if a person was considered an adult when the alleged offense or violation was committed, he or she will not later be considered a child. Additionally, under current law, no court will require a child to remain in the custody of the Division of Youth Services past the child's 18th birthday. This bill changes that provision so that a child can remain in the custody of the Division of Youth Services until the child's 19th birthday.
HB 167 designates the National Guard armory located in or nearest to Joplin as the "Sergeant Robert Wayne Crow Jr. Memorial Armory". Supporters say Sergeant Robert Wayne Crow Jr. died in Afghanistan as a result of an improvised explosive device attack. Crow was well respected by his soldiers and was a leader. Additionally, supporters say he deployed from Joplin and naming the nearest armory would be appropriate.
HB 391 provides that members of the Missouri National Guard will be considered state employees for the purpose of operating state-owned vehicles for official state business, unless such members are called into active federal military service. Supporters say the bill will help determine liability for insurance purposes so individuals driving a state-owned vehicle will be treated as other state employees are treated and be covered under the state’s liability structure.
HB 252 authorizes certain cities, upon voter approval, to impose a transient guest tax not to exceed 6 percent per occupied room per night, for general purposes.
HB 563 adds certain cities to the provisions in law that authorize home rule cities to establish land bank agencies. Upon enactment, the bill will apply to the city of Springfield. Supporters say land banks have worked particularly well in Missouri, so the city of Springfield would like to utilize them.
HB 661 disqualifies any person from driving a commercial motor vehicle for life if they are convicted of using a commercial motor vehicle in the commission of a felony involving severe forms of human trafficking. Supporters say this is needed to provide a strong disincentive to human trafficking.
HB 60 creates a Department of Defense and transfers the powers, duties, and functions vested in the Office of Adjutant General, the state militia, and the Office of the State Judge Advocate from the Department of Public Safety beginning December 31, 2021. The bill has an effective date contingent upon the passage and approval by the voters of HJR 6. Supporters say 28 other states have a similar Department of Defense and the bill will provide a proper chain of command without a "middle man". The adjutant general will directly answer to the governor and then may command the proper support staff. This bill will allow leadership to speed up critical decision making and if military construction projects arise provide opportunities to take advantage of those without going through a variety of other departments.
HJR 6 is a proposed Constitutional amendment that would, upon voter approval, establish a Department of Defense under the charge of the Adjutant General appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, charged with providing the state militia and other defense and security mechanisms as may be required.