Our next-to-last week has proven to be very busy. We used a lot of time on the budget, and did get it through approval. I had some movement on bills and will update those before giving a summary of the budget and bills Truly Agreed and Finally Passed (TAFP) this week.
Status for My Bills
This week I was able to amend HB 1094 to several Senate bills, this should help the chances of the tax relief provisions being implemented. Below is a complete list of the bills I have officially filed with a status report in the parentheses:
- HCR 16 – Urges Congress to recognize World War II Ghost Army (voted Do Pass in Senate committee)
- HB 573 – Title IX proceedings due process requirements (Voted Do Pass out of Administrative Rules)
- HB574 – Companion to HB 573 (referred to Higher Education Committee)
- HB 575- Authorizes Campus Protection Officers (voted Do Pass in Senate committee)
- HB 576 – Campus Free Expression (Third Read and Passed out of House, Second Read in Senate)
- HB 577 – National Motto displays in schools (heard in Elementary and Secondary Education Committee)
- HB 1093- Expands Dual Credit Fund (passed out of House Rules, amended onto HB 575)
- HB 1094 – Tax Penalty Relief for 2018 (voted Do Pass in Senate committee)
I will keep you updated on these bills as we move through the remainder of the session.
General Assembly Gives Final Approval to Balanced State Operating Budget (HBs 1-13)
This week the General Assembly passed a balanced state budget that contains record funding for elementary and secondary education is now on its way to the governor’s desk. The final approval to the appropriations bills make up the $29.7 billion state spending plan that provides funding to the state’s departments and programs.
For the third consecutive year, the budget fully funds the school foundation formula with a total of $3.94 billion in funding. The total represents an increase of more than $61 million and brings the amount of funding for K-12 public schools to its highest level in state history. The education budget also includes a $5 million increase for a total of $108 million in funding for transportation expenses for local school districts. Additionally, the budget includes a $3 million increase for the Parents as Teachers program. In total, funding for pre-K-12 education is increased by $116 million in the spending plan approved by the legislature.
In the budget process, the General Assembly agreed to provide an additional $1 million in core funding for most of the state’s four-year colleges and universities. During the discussion on higher education funding, House members also fought to preserve language that prevents colleges and universities from offering in-state tuition to students with unlawful immigration status. The language was placed in the budget in 2015 in an effort to ensure taxpayer dollars are used only for students who are legal residents. While the Senate initially moved to remove the language, the House fought to keep it, and the two legislative bodies ultimately agreed to the House position. As a result, these students will continue to pay international tuition rates. The language in the budget will also continue to prohibit institutions of higher learning from providing these students with state-sponsored scholarships.
The budget plan also makes it a priority to fund repairs for the state’s deteriorating transportation infrastructure. It includes critical funding that is part of a proposal to fix 250 bridges statewide. The budget contains $50 million in funding for the repairs, which would be used in conjunction with a $301 million bonding plan that still requires House approval and also requires the state to receive a sizeable federal infrastructure grant. In the budget, House and Senate members also agreed to allocate $50 million in funding for a cost-sharing program that will allow the state transportation department to provide a 50/50 match to counties and municipalities to improve local roads and bridges.
Other budget highlights include:
- $300,00 for school safety grants across the state
- $1 million of spending approved to make improvements to the Missouri School for the Blind
- Funding of Missouri scholarships:
- The newly proposed workforce development scholarship, Fast Track, is funded at $10 million
- $500,000 increase for A+ Scholarships
- Nearly $1 million increase for Access Missouri Scholarships
- $19.5 million increase to colleges and universities for ongoing operations
- $18.9 million in funding for MoExcels higher education workforce development initiatives
- $10 million is appropriated for the translational precision medical center to be built at the University of Missouri – Columbia
- $1.8 million will go to Missouri Southern State University to help expand healthcare and STEM programs
- $5.3 million increase to support adult high schools
- $1.1 million increase to restore prior year cuts to aid public libraries
Infrastructure and Economic Development:
- As part of a larger compromise related to transportation spending, the General Assembly authorizes borrowing up to $301 million over a seven year period if enough federal INFRA grant funds are received to replace the I-70 bridge over the Missouri River at Rocheport (replacement costs projected at over $240 million)
- $10 million for major water reservoir projects
- $5 million in general revenue to match federal dollars for improving rural broadband infrastructure
- $347,338 to initiate a new plant industries program (industrial hemp)
- $17.35 million to fund the governor's One Start initiative for economic development and customized training
- $300,000 for the brand new Missouri Military Community Reinvestment Program
- The reorganization of the Department of Economic Development across DHE, DNR, DIFP, and lieutenant governor's office is transferred and funded
- $13.5 million of Volkswagen settlement funds appropriated to clean air projects and grants
- $10.4 million for port projects along Missouri rivers
- $10.8 million in road funds to MoDOT for flood-related expenses, plus $6 million to the Department of Public Safety for flood-related expenses
- Tourism funding is increased $4.7 million over FY19 funding
- $5 million for alternatives to jail program for pre-trial electronic monitoring that will save counties and the state millions in prisoner per diem costs
- $38.3 million appropriated as aid to counties to offset prison housing costs
- $58 million in rebased rates for developmental disability providers to improve access to services
- $1 million to start an Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) for autism
- $153,000 to fund the Time Critical Diagnosis Unit
- $15 million in savings generated by the consolidation of two prisons in Northwest Missouri
- Savings achieved from the prison consolidation will fund critically needed salary increases that will help recruit and retain Department of Corrections personnel
- $22 million of general revenue spending appropriated to pick up the loss of federal funds that previously supported critical mental health programs at certified community behavioral health clinics
- 1.5 percent rate increases to Medicaid providers (returning to FY17 reimbursement levels)
- $5.5 million appropriated to fund Missouri’s presidential primary
- $18 million in federal funds are appropriated for crime victims grants
- $1.1 million to open two juvenile advocacy offices (one that is specific to St. Louis, the second that will operate statewide out of Kansas City) inside Missouri’s public defender system
Bills Truly Agreed and Finally Passed This Week
HB 694 allows qualified entities, under certain circumstances, to receive individuals' criminal history information from the central repository as part of the "Missouri Rap Back Program" as well as the National Rap Back Program. The Missouri program includes automatic notifications made by the State Highway Patrol about whether an individual, specifically an applicant who is employed, licensed, or otherwise under the purview of the entity, has been arrested for a reported criminal offense in the state. Supporters say the bill cleans language up from what was passed last year. It separates out public and private entities and this was language approved by the FBI. Additionally, the bill extends a court surcharge in all criminal cases for deposit into the DNA Profiling Analysis Fund. The surcharge was set to expire on August 28, 2019 and will now be extended to Aug. 28, 2029.
HB 260 specifies that the court may require any person found guilty of chasing, pursuing, taking, transporting, killing, processing, or disposing of certain wildlife in violation of the Missouri Conservation Commission’s rules and regulations to make restitution to the state. The moneys collected will be transferred to the State School Moneys Fund. Supporters say the wildlife in the state belongs to all Missourians and when poachers take wildlife illegally, they are stealing from the citizens of the state. Missouri has some of the lowest poaching fines in the country and this bill would increase the fines and reduce poaching.
HB 831 establishes an “Association of Missouri Electrical Cooperatives” special license plate. The plate requires an annual emblem-use authorization fee of $25, paid to the Association of Missouri Electrical Cooperatives, in addition to the $15 special personalized license plate fee and other requirements and fees as provided by law. The bill also establishes a "Missouri Association of Municipal Utilities" special license plate. The plate requires an annual emblem-use authorization fee of $25, paid to the Missouri Association of Municipal Utilities, in addition to the $15 special personalized license plate fee and other requirements and fees as provided by law. Supporters say the bill would help support training programs for linemen who work all hours of the day to provide reliable electric service.
HB 821 establishes the “Land Bank Act,” which authorizes the city of St. Joseph to establish a land bank agency for the management, sale, transfer, and other disposition of interests in real estate owned by such land bank agency. The land bank agency shall be established to foster the public purpose of returning land, including land that is in a nonrevenue-generating, nontax-producing status, to use in private ownership. Supporters say the bill will help improve neighborhoods. This is an ongoing issue with abandoned properties that are deteriorated and derelict and no one wants to purchase these properties. This will help get these properties in the hands of responsible owners and help to clean up the city and make it a better place to live.
SB 179 modifies filing requirements for certain banks and financial institutions. Current law requires certain banks, trust companies, and savings and loans associations to file multiple copies of various forms and documents with the Division of Finance within the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions, and Professional Registration. Current law also requires the Division to make, file, or retain multiple copies of the same forms and documents with various state offices. This act repeals those requirements and instead requires a single filing of each form or document currently required to be filed with the Division. The act repeals a requirement that any savings and loan association pay a fee of $5 to the Director of Revenue for each resolution filed with the Division amending its articles of incorporation. Current law requires the Director of the Division to prepare a report, as part of the report of the Department, detailing the state and condition of each corporation required to report to him or her. This act repeals that requirement. Supporters say the bill cuts red tape by updating old statutes and removing provisions that are not necessary in the modern day, while keeping functions and responsibilities the same.
SB 196 authorizes the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to award grants to preserve, protect, or restore historic county courthouses. The bill also creates the Rock Island Trail State Park Endowment Fund in the state treasury to be administered by the Department of Natural Resources.
SB 167 modifies the definition of “contractor,” for purposes of public works construction bonds, to include persons and business entities that contract, provide, or arrange for construction services on a public works project for a non-governmental purpose when acting as a lessee, agent, designee, or representative of a public entity. The act exempts construction managers not-at-risk and construction managers who do not otherwise enter into contracts with contractors for the furnishing of labor, materials, or services to a public works project from the definition of “contractor.” The act further requires that all contracts for public works in excess of $50,000 to be performed for a public entity's lessee, agent, designee, or representative on work for non-governmental purposes shall require contractors to furnish a bond. This bill will allow contractors and subcontractors to acquire bonds to do private work on public land. Supporters also say that there is no recourse for contractors who work on public property. This bill will provide a recourse for contractors who put resources and material into projects in the event that the work could not be completed.
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.