Senate Heads into Final Month of 2016 Session
With only one month left in the 2016 legislative session, I am pleased to say a number of my priority measures are nearing the finish line, or have already crossed it. Before I recap where we are currently sitting, I want to briefly introduce two bills I have not previously mentioned.
Last week I presented Senate Bill 1117 to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. I am sure many of you reading this have heard of, or possibly even used, short-term residential rental services. Although relatively new, this business model has been very successful, and we want Missouri citizens and communities to be able to benefit from it; however, it is also important that we have reasonable and consistent regulations throughout the state.
Under SB 1117, political subdivisions will be prohibited from enacting or enforcing restrictions on residential dwelling rentals in instances in which an individual occupies a guest room in such rental for a period of less than 31 days. While such rentals will be excluded from hotel and motel regulations, the act does specify certain other areas that may be regulated. Since this is a new concept, SB 1117 is still a work in progress, but I am glad we have at least been able to get the conversation going about this exciting business opportunity.
Earlier today, the Senate passed Senate Bill 659, which modifies the regulation of autocycle drivers and exempts them from using protective headgear. First, let me explain that autocycles are not motorcycles; they do not look like motorcycles or drive like them. Autocycles are three-wheeled motor vehicles in which all drivers and passengers ride in a completely enclosed, tandem seating area that is controlled with a steering wheel and pedals and contains additional safety and equipment requirements, such as seat belts and airbags. Since they have all the safety features of a standard vehicle, it is not necessary for drivers and passengers to wear helmets. In fact, wearing a helmet while operating an autocycle can severely limit a person’s range of motion and can actually increase the risk of neck injuries in the event of an accident.
My first bill of 2016 to make it to the governor’s desk was Senate Bill 585 — a bill I had been working to pass for two sessions to help alleviate the extremely overworked 38th Judicial Circuit. The measure split the 38th Circuit so that it only includes Christian County, while Taney County has been moved under a newly created 46th Judicial Circuit. Senate Bill 585 was signed by the governor in mid-February and immediately went into effect, giving candidates enough time to file for the 2016 election cycle.
On Tuesday, the Legislature passed another piece of legislation I filed (Senate Bill 906) in the form of House Bill 2140. This stopgap measure will prevent Missouri cities and counties from losing an estimated $44 million in lost auto sales revenue. In 2012, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in Street v. Director of Revenue that vehicles purchased out of state were subject to local use tax, but not local sales tax, resulting in a huge tax incentive for buyers residing in Missouri cities and counties that had not enacted a local use tax to cross the state line to purchase a vehicle. In response, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 23, requiring any taxing authority without a local use tax to have an election to validate a rate by November 2016.
As of now, there are 54 counties and over 1,200 municipalities in Missouri that still do not have a local use tax law in place; the Missouri Department of Revenue reports that $7.6 billion in auto sales occurred during 2015 in those same cities and counties. That is $7.6 billion that dealerships in neighboring states are currently eyeing and are going to try and win from Missouri businesses if the statute expires. House Bill 2140 allows local governments and the DOR to continue operating under the current tax structure for another two years, hopefully giving us enough time to find a more long-term solution.
Also this week, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 973, allowing pharmacists to more conveniently dispense prescriptions. For example, if your doctor writes you a prescription for 30 days with multiple refills of your maintenance medication, upon your request, your pharmacist may use his or her judgment to fill your prescription up to a 90-day quantity. This means your pharmacist would not have to request permission from your doctor, and you would likely have a less expensive copay. Senate Bill 973 only applies to maintenance medication and does not change the law regarding narcotics, or Schedule II drugs.
And finally, legislation (Senate Bill 985) I filed to establish a new version of the existing Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) has been approved by the Senate. The mobility of nurses and the use of advanced communication technologies as part of our nation’s health care delivery system have expanded drastically in recent years. Unfortunately, our coordination and cooperation among states in the areas of nurse licensure and regulation has not kept pace.
In contrast with the current system of duplicative licensure for nurses practicing in multiple states, the enhanced NLC allows for registered nurses and licensed practical/vocational nurses to have one multistate license, with the privilege to practice in their home state and other NLC states. In 2009, Missouri became the 24th state to adopt the NLC. Only one additional state has joined since then. The enhanced NLC will become effective on either the date of legislative enactment by no less than 26 states or Dec. 31, 2018, whichever occurs first.
If you have any questions or comments about this or any other matter regarding your state government, please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-1503; you are also welcome to e-mail me at email@example.com.