Sen. Dave Schatz’s Column for March 16

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This week marks the halfway point for this session. Next week will be spent on legislative spring break. In the first 11 weeks of session the Senate has worked through many meaningful pieces of legislation, which will benefit Missourians across the state.

Senate Bill 237 clarifies the definitions of “employee” and a “physician employee” in court actions, regarding injury or death, against health care providers. One of the key components of this bill is that it will limit the liability to the person responsible for the malpractice. By limiting liability to the party who is responsible for malpractice, we bring stability and clarity to malpractice insurance and help keep health care costs down for every Missourian.

The Senate has also spent a fair amount of time debating and working to fix certain language related to workers’ compensation because of a recent court decision, which opened employers up to a greater liability and lowered the standard to make a claim for workers’ compensation discrimination. Senate Bill 113 restores the standard of proof in those cases. We need to reform Missouri’s workers’ compensation system by carefully balancing the need for protections for injured workers and the need to keep the state’s business community and job creation efforts intact. In late February, this bill was second read by the House and awaits further action from that body.

My Transportation, Infrastructure, and Public Safety Committee has also passed many important pieces of legislation. Those include Senate Bill 34, House Bill 130 dealing with transportation network companies (TNCs) and Senate Bill 46, which creates the Blue Alert System.

The Senate has debated and passed Senate Bill 34, which creates the crime of illegal reentry for an unauthorized immigrant who enters Missouri and has been convicted of assault, domestic assault or another dangerous felony. This legislation will protect all Missourians from those without legal status who come to Missouri and cause harm to our citizens. This legislation needs further action in the House before it can become law.

House Bill 130 deals with new regulatory treatment of TNCs. The bill would require, beginning April 28, 2018, a TNC to apply for an annual permit from the Department of Revenue to do business within the state of Missouri.

The bill also requires state and federal background checks for the drivers and says drivers will be considered independent contractors and not employees of the TNC under certain circumstances. This would legalize ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft statewide.

Senate Bill 46 will create the Blue Alert System for our state. The system, much like the Amber Alert system for abducted children, will allow for a mass notification to the general public in instances where law enforcement officers are killed or injured. This legislation also makes it so those convicted of certain offenses against law enforcement officers, firefighters or emergency medical service providers are not eligible for bail, continuation of bail, probation or parole. Also those convicted of resisting or interfering with arrest, detention or stops are ineligible for probation or parole.

Thank you for reading this weekly column. Please contact my office at (573) 751-3678 if you have any questions.