Legislative Update for February

Senator Holsman’s Legislative Update for February 2014
Constituents and Supporters,

The wheels of your state government are turning. The first few weeks of session are much like the first few weeks of a new school year. There is a re-engagement period where new bills are filed and committees begin to meet. By early February we see the first substantive floor debate take shape.

This session represents my office’s second year in the Missouri Senate, and we have
a robust legislative agenda. The issues dominating much of the discussion focus around student transfers, tax cuts, tax credit reform and economic development.

Returning to our office this session is my Chief of Staff Dan Bryar and my Legislative Director Tom Hoppe. If you should ever need assistance helping state government work for you, please do not hesitate to contact myself or staff.

Please see brief summaries of our filed legislation below.

Jason R. Holsman
State Senator, District 7
Jackson County
(573) 751-6607

In the News this Week

Thank You for Sharing Thoughts at Off-Season Town Hall Meetings

Governor Nixon Delivers State of the State Address

Filed Legislation from the 7th Senate District

Economic Border War Cease Fire Act

Health Care Price Transparency Act

Early Childhood Education Legislation

Energy-Related Legislation

Collection of Intelligence

Enabling Legislation for “Autocycles”

Equal Rights Amendment

Certificate of Title for 10-Year-Old Vehicles

Sen. McKenna Confirmed as Head of the Department Labor and Industrial Relations

Julie Donelon Receives Unanimous Consent of the Senate to Serve on the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board 

Plan on Taking a Trip to Jefferson City?

Questions Regarding the Affordable Care Act?

Board and Commission Vacancies

Senator Holsman serves the 7th Senatorial District of the Missouri Senate, which encompasses part of Jackson County. Click here to view the district map.

Missouri State Capitol Building
201 W. Capitol Ave., Rm. 329
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 751-6607

District Office
P.O. Box 480572
Kansas City, MO 64114
(816) 942-2767

Thank You for Sharing Thoughts at Off-Season Town Hall Meetings

Sen. Holsman hosted a joint town hall meeting.

During the interim, I conducted a number of town hall meetings throughout the 7th Senatorial District.

Meetings were conducted in each district that makes up the 7th District. Constituents received legislative briefings regarding the 2013 regular and veto sessions. A great deal of feedback had to do with changes in the health care marketplace and the state of public education in the Kansas City area.

As we look ahead to the 2014 session, my staff and I are working diligently to develop legislation that will move our communities forward. As always our doors, email in-boxes, and phone lines remain open to your thoughts and opinions regarding public policy in our state.

Governor Nixon Delivers State of the State Address

Gov. Jay Nixon delivers the 2014 State of the State Address to a joint session of the Missouri General Assembly at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.

On Jan. 21, members of the General Assembly gathered to hear the annual State of the State address delivered by the governor. The governor’s speech outlined a number of priorities that his administration will pursue over the course of this year. The governor covered a diverse array of topics in his address that he would like addressed by the General Assembly, including reinstating campaign contribution limits, enacting the Missouri Non-Discrimination Act, training more mental health professionals, and constructing a new facility to replace the crumbling Fulton State Mental Hospital.Among the most ambitious priorities delivered to the assembled group of elected officials included substantially increasing the amount appropriated for the Missouri Preschool Program and Missouri’s K-12 foundation formula: “A child who starts kindergarten ready to learn, is more likely to succeed in school, go to college, and get a good job. Working together, over the last year, we’ve expanded access to early childhood education, giving more children the opportunity to go to high quality preschool in their communities. But this year, it’s time that we do much more … And that’s why my budget will nearly triple funding for the Missouri Preschool Program.”

“… That’s why my budget increases funding for our K-12 classrooms this year by $278 million, and will put us on a path to fully funding the foundation formula next year.”

The governor also made a plea to lawmakers to reform and expand our Medicaid system:

“…We all know there are problems with Obamacare, and Washington’s implementation of it has been abysmal. But rejecting Medicaid won’t fix any of those things. It won’t keep Missourians from having to pay federal taxes, or exempt our businesses from new requirements under the law. Instead, by standing still, we’re making the things we don’t like about Obamacare even worse, forcing Missourians to bear all the costs of this law – and reap none of the benefits.”

From the magnificent job Joplin has done at recovering from the devastating tornado, to taking the A+ Schools Program statewide, Nixon was greeted with numerous applause breaks from lawmakers and constituents on hand. The state of Missouri is stronger than it has been in years, and with an economy on the rise Missouri is poised to make critical investments that will continue to ensure the viability of our state for years to come. The governor’s priorities are outlined in express detail in his budget proposal unveiled on Jan. 21. For more information on the governor’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal click here.

For those who were unable to watch Gov. Nixon’s State of the State address live, please click here to watch the 2014 Missouri State of the State address.

Filed Legislation from the 7th Senate District
The list of legislation includes just a few of the bills which our office has filed or co-sponsored for the 2014 legislative session. Included in each of the cited measures are short summaries and some relevant examples of the intended use and benefits to our communities.
Economic Border War Cease Fire Act 

Photo from the Kansas City Business Journal.

Senate Bill 635 (Sponsor: Sen. Ryan Silvey, Co-sponsor: Sen. Holsman)

This bill represents a true bi-partisan solution that is the culmination of months of hard work from business, civic and government leaders in our region, and has the potential to end the economic border war that has long pitted the interests of Missouri and Kansas residents against one another.

If this piece of legislation is enacted, and the Kansas Legislature enacts similar legislation, it will create an immediate and unilateral economic cease fire within the KC region.

Businesses will no longer be able to move from one side of Stateline Road to the other, and take advantage of “new jobs” tax credits under the receiving state’s tax programs when no jobs are created. This is a practice that must end in the Kansas City region, and SB 635 is a step in the right direction for all of Kansas City.

Read a Kansas City Business Journal article, detailing the proposed legislation.

Health Care Price Transparency Act 

Image taken from a Forbes.com article 
detailing health care costs.

Senate Bill 684 – Health Care Price Transparency Act (Sponsor: Sen. Holsman)

In an effort to inject some price transparency into the health care market place, our office has introduced SB 684. Inspired by a constituent who has spent a professional lifetime in the health care industry and a recent piece of legislation passed in the state of North Carolina, this measure seeks to give citizens the ability to check the actual prices of some of the most commonly performed procedures.

Specifically, this act requires hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers to submit to the Department of Health and Senior Services prices for 140 of the most common procedures, including 100 of the most common procedures in hospital inpatient settings, as well as 20 of the most common surgical procedures and 20 of the most common imaging procedures conducted in both outpatient hospital and ambulatory surgical settings.

Find a recent Kansas City Star article detailing this proposed legislation here.

Early Childhood Education Legislation
Senate Bill 538 and Senate Bill 539 (Sponsor: Sen. Keaveny, Co-Sponsor: Sen. Holsman)

Recognizing the need for the state to take leadership in funding our pre-kindergarten programs, our office is co-sponsoring two pieces of legislation drafted by Sen. Joseph Keaveny of St. Louis.

Senate Bill 538  – This measure allows school districts and charter schools to receive state aid for children ages 3 to 5 years old who are eligible for free and reduced lunch, and participate in the district’s or charter school’s pre-kindergarten program.

Senate Bill 539 –  This act allows school districts and charter schools to receive funding for children ages 3 to 5 years old who are eligible for free and reduced lunch and participate in the district’s or charter school’s pre-kindergarten program.

Energy Related Legislation

Senate Bill 579 – Homeowner’s Solar Bill of Rights (Sponsor: Sen. Holsman)

This measure prohibits homeowners’ associations from creating overly restrictive covenants or requirements for individuals who wants to install solar panels on their property.

This legislation was drafted partially in response to a case in a St. Louis suburb where a couple was forced to seek legal action in order to secure their right to install solar panels on their home. Read that story here.

Senate Bill 598 – Relating to the Renewable Energy Standard (Sponsor: Sen. Holsman)
This legislation clarifies a piece of Missouri state law relating to how utility companies are able to comply with the 2008 initiative petition, which established Missouri’s renewable energy standard (RES). Under the bill, utilities complying with the RES only use renewable energy credits that are actually sold as power to Missouri consumers. Currently, utility companies are able to comply with the RES by purchasing renewable energy credits that have been generated out of state and sold as power to consumers not in Missouri.

Senate Bill 601 – Reauthorizes the Tax Deduction for EE Audits (Sponsor: Sen. Holsman)
Prior to Dec. 31, 2013, there was an income tax deduction for energy efficiency audits and implementation of the recommendations of such audits. This act reauthorizes the deduction as of Jan. 1, 2014. The legislation establishing the deduction for home energy was established in 2008. In 2009 through 2011, more than 2,090 Missourians claimed the deduction, with an average of over $700 per claim. This deduction spurs economic growth in the home energy audit industry as well as for local businesses that implement the audit recommendations, ultimately yielding savings in energy costs to Missouri households.

Senate Bill 602 – Establishes the Capitol Green Program (Sponsor: Sen. Holsman)
This act establishes the Capital Green Program to provide funding for energy efficiency improvements, including geothermal, wind, and solar energy resources to certain state buildings.

Collection of Intelligence
Senate Bill 608 – Collection of Intelligence (Sponsor: Sen. Holsman)
This act prohibits law enforcement agencies from gathering, maintaining, or disseminating intelligence information about any person engaged solely in lawful conduct, unless there is reasonable suspicion that the person is involved in criminal activity. This common-sense legislation is unfortunately patently necessary. One of our neighbors, from the Kansas side of Stateline Road, was recently tracked by law enforcement agencies for engaging in a host of legal activities; among them shopping at a grocery store. Through a myriad of miscalculations, this citizen was believed to have been engaging in illegal activities and was the victim of a frivolous raid at his home in Leawood, Kan. This story is unfortunate and partially the reason for the proposed legislation.Find an article from the Kansas City Star detailing this episode here. In addition, this act requires law enforcement officers to secure a warrant prior to the search or seizure of garbage located on a street curb or within the curtilage of a house.
Enabling Legislation for “Autocycles” 

Three-wheeled vehicle developed by Elio Motors.

Senate Bill 596 – Autocycles  (Sponsor: Sen. Holsman)

This legislation allows for a definition of “Autocycles” in our state statute, to allow for fully enclosed three-wheeled vehicles to travel on Missouri roads.

The company, Elio Motors, has developed a three-wheeled, double-capacity vehicle capable of traveling up to 84 miles per gallon. Under current state law, such a vehicle would be classified as a motorcycle whose driver would be subject to Missouri’s motorcycle endorsement and helmet laws. Under the proposed legislation this type of vehicle would operate under standard motor vehicle statutes. The vehicle is projected to retail for $6,800.

Equal Rights Amendment

Map of the U.S. depicting ratification of the ERA by state from www.equalrightsamendment.org.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 30 (Sponsor: Sen. Jolie Justus, Co-Sponsors Sen. Holsman, Sen. S. Kiki Curls)

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ensuring a woman’s right to vote was ratified by the United States in 1920. Three years later, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) calling for equality under the law regardless of sex, written by Alice Paul, head of the National Women’s Party, was introduced in Congress by Sen. Charles Curtis and Rep. Daniel Anthony, Jr. The Equal Rights Amendment passed in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate on March 22, 1972, and was subsequently sent to the states for ratification. The window for ratification supposedly expired in 1982, however, while Article V of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to propose amendments it is silent on its ability to impose time limits on ratification. With that in mind, ratification of the ERA could be possible with a vote of three additional states (35 states initial passed the measure, and it takes 38 to ratify).

For Missouri’s part in ratifying the ERA, Sen. Jolie Justus has introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 30, relating to the ratification of the ERA. SCR 30 is co-sponsored by Sen. Holsman and Sen. S. Kiki Curls.

The Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states:
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation,  the provisions of this article. Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.”

Certificate of Title for 10-Year-Old Vehicles

Hidden street camera documents illegal towing.

Senate Bill 597 – Certificates of title – 10-year-old vehicles (Sponsor: Sen. Holsman)

This measure removes an exemption that allows an individual to sell an inoperable vehicle that is 10 years old or older to a scrap dealer without a title.

Legislation allowing for this exemption was put into place several years ago as a measure for farmers or other rural landowners to clear their land of abandoned vehicles. While the intent of this measure was good in nature, the unintended consequences resulted in spikes in car thefts in our urban areas. Since the exemption went into effect, statistics show auto thefts have gone up by 17 percent in Kansas City and 36 percent in St. Louis.

Read a KCTV 5 News story on this issue.

Rep. Jeremy Lafaver, D-Kansas City, also filed identical legislation in the Missouri House.

Sen. McKenna Confirmed as Head of the Department Labor and Industrial Relations
Holsman and McKenna on Senate floor
Ryan McKenna visits with Sen. Holsman during session on the Senate floor.

My colleague in the Missouri Senate, Ryan McKenna resigned his post representing the constituents of Jefferson County to take over as the Director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

McKenna was a strong voice in the Senate for Missouri’s middle class and an advocate for strengthening our infrastructure. His leadership and years will be missed in the chamber as he transitions to his new role in service to our state.

Senator McKenna represented Jefferson County in the state Senate starting in 2006; he served as a state representative from Jefferson County from 1998 to 2004. His father and his grandfather also served in the Missouri General Assembly. A Jefferson County native, he is a graduated from Missouri State University and worked as a union laborer on highway and bridge construction before serving in the General Assembly.

Julie Donelon Receives Unanimous Consent of the Senate to
Serve on the
Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board 

Donelon was brought before a committee hearing on Wednesday Jan. 15, and received unanimous consent from both committee members and the full Senate. 

Resident of the 7th District, Julie T. Donelon was appointed by the governor to serve on the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board. The role of this panel, among other responsibilities, is to independently review cases of child abuse and neglect in which the accused does not agree with the decision of the Children’s Division.

It’s my pleasure to sponsor Mrs. Donelon’s appointment to the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board. I’m sure she will bring valuable skills to the board and will be an asset in working toward the united goal of bettering the lives of children in the Show-Me State.

Donelon is the president and CEO of the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault in Kansas City. She also served as the executive director for the Child Protection Center; director and forensic interviewer for the Jackson County Family Court; and forensic interviewer for Children’s Mercy Hospital. Her term runs through April 7, 2015.

Members of many state commissions and boards are appointed by the governor. Gubernatorial appointees then work with their state senator, who serves as a sponsor of the nominee in the confirmation process, which begins before the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee and concludes with a consenting vote by the full Senate.

Board and Commission Vacancies
One of the best ways for Missourians to become engaged with state government is to apply to become a member of a board or commission.

The governor notes that: “I am always looking for qualified, energetic applicants to serve on Missouri’s 200-plus boards and commissions. Please spread the word. I would greatly appreciate it if you would encourage your colleagues and friends to review the vacancies and complete an application.”

Click here to learn more about State Boards and Commissions.

Plan on Taking a Trip to Jefferson City?

If you plan on visiting Jefferson City in the coming months, please consider taking a tour of your State Capitol building, the Governor’s Mansion, or the Supreme Court of our state. Reservations for any of these tours should be made in advance as spots tend to fill up quickly, especially in January through May while the Legislature is in session.

Missouri State Parks maintains an online platform and excellent resource for Missouri residents and tourists to visit prior to their trip.

For tours of the Missouri State Capitol, Governor’s Mansion or the Historic Jefferson Landing please, click here. The Missouri Supreme Court requires reservations for tours.

Questions Regarding the Affordable Care Act?

For constituents and Missouri residents who are looking for a resource to research changes in the health care market place, please consider spending some time on the Cover Missouriwebsite, www.covermissouri.org.

The Cover Missouri website is an extremely helpful resource in navigating health care options as the Affordable Care Act becomes fully implemented. From downloadable documents to resource numbers, Cover Missouri is a great source in finding the information you need.

Groups from across Missouri are convening under the Cover Missouri Coalition because they share the vision of reducing the number of uninsured Missourians. Members work to build awareness, facilitate enrollment, increase health insurance literacy, and support the state’s transformation of our Medicaid system. The coalition is organized around a steering committee, working groups, and community partners. coalition members share best practices, maximize resources, identify challenges and opportunities, and build on an inclusive plan to insure Missourians.

Cover Missouri is a project of the Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) to promote quality, affordable health coverage for every Missourian. MFH is the convener of the Cover Missouri Coalition and an independent philanthropic foundation dedicated to improving the health of the uninsured and underserved.

Click here for more information about the Missouri Foundation for Health.

This newsletter update is a regular publication to keep you informed. I welcome all questions or comments about the content. The information presented is accurate to the best of my knowledge at the time of the communication. Chances are you’ve received this update because at some point in the past year you have either given me your business card or sent my office an e-mail. All photos with the exception of pictures taken by the Missouri Senate, are protected under the fair-use clause concerning public comment. Thank you for reading.