Sen. Jay Wasson’s Legislative Column for the Week of Jan. 25, 2016

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A Strong Finish to the First Month of Session

As the first month of the 2016 session comes to a close, I’m proud of how much progress we’ve already made. On Monday legislation I filed to bring Missouri’s professional licensure system into the 21st century was heard by the Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee.

In 2013 state lawmakers approved a new licensure system for all licensees within the Division of Professional Registration; however, a number of current statutory impediments must first be addressed before the new system can effectively serve the 430,000 professionals licensed in Missouri.

If signed into law, Senate Bill 831 will allow licensed professionals to fulfill many of their licensure-related requirements online, including: applying for licensure or renewing a license, paying fees, requesting extensions for completing continuing education requirements and notifying their license-granting board or commission of any name or address changes, among other items. In addition, employers will be able to verify licenses, and the public will be able to report any problems they may have with a licensed professional.

The Senate also voted Monday to send Senate Concurrent Resolution 51 to the House for further debate. This resolution disapproves the State Tax Commission’s recommended 5 percent tax increase on certain agricultural land. Between poor farming conditions and the recent devastating flooding, 2015 was a rough year for Missouri farmers. Factor in the 5 percent tax increase that went into effect last year, and it becomes clear why now is not the time to saddle our farmers with an even greater financial burden.

Finally, on Tuesday the Senate Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 613, relating to the workers’ compensation insurance premiums of volunteer fire departments. Volunteer fire departments fulfill a vitally important role in our communities, most especially in our rural communities. Unfortunately, volunteer fire departments often find it difficult to afford workers’ compensation premiums. If passed, SB 613 will allow volunteer fire departments to ban together to make buying workers’ compensation insurance more affordable.

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