Sen. Gary Romine’s Capitol Update – May 11, 2018

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May 11, 2018

General Assembly Approves State Budget

Final Budget Approved

This week, members of the Missouri Senate and the House of Representatives met to negotiate several items in the state budget. These negotiations were an important part of the process as we worked together to craft a fiscally responsible, balanced budget. I am happy to report that the conference committee agreed to fully fund the K-12 budget and add an additional $10 million for school transportation funding.

Additionally, we were able to increase funding for higher education. Fiscal year 2019 will be the first budget year in quite some time that we have been able to provide a funding increase for our colleges and universities. They are doing great work in our state, educating and training our future workforce. I believe this investment in the future of our state is well-justified.

State workers will also receive a pay raise of $750 for employees who earn less than $70,000 per year. Employees earning more than $70,000 will receive a 1 percent raise under this year’s budget. Additionally, after discovering that state worker’s insurance premiums were at risk of doubling, funds were allocated to subsidize benefit packages to prevent these significant premium increases.

The General Assembly is constitutionally required to create a balanced budget each year, an obligation we successfully fulfilled. Making budgetary decisions are always difficult, but I believe this year’s budget reflects the priorities of Missouri and will move our state forward.

Career Readiness Training

House Bill 1415 adds new provisions relating to educational workforce development. Two provisions I have been working on this year are included in this legislation. The first re-organizes the funding provided to the sheltered workshop program. This will ensure all funds from the state are being efficiently used to benefit individuals who work in the program. I had originally filed this change as a stand-alone bill, but saw a great opportunity to add these changes to HB 1415 as an amendment. The sheltered workshop program provides work environments and programs designed to enable individuals with disabilities to progress toward normal living and to develop their capacity, performance and relationships with other people.

I was also pleased that the version passed by the Senate includes provisions incentivizing schools to offer industry certifications and apprenticeship programs in addition to a high school diploma and dual credit opportunities. House Bill 1415 has been preliminarily approved by the Senate, pending approval by the Fiscal Oversight Committee.

Criminalizing Nonconsensual Dissemination of Images

The rapidly changing nature of today’s technology has created the need for updating Missouri’s criminal code to include crimes committed using technology. Under current law, individuals who threaten to distribute, or actually distribute a nonconsensual sexual image of someone else are not held accountable for their actions. Missouri’s laws are outdated in this area and changes must be made to prevent, or respond to crimes of this nature.

House Bill 1558 creates the offense of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images. Under this legislation, a person who intentionally shares an image without permission would be committing a class D felony. The bill also creates a class E felony in cases when a person threatens to disseminate a private sexual image of another individual. This felony would occur if a person gains or attempts to gain anything of value, or coerces or attempts to coerce another person to act or refrain from acting by threatening to share an image of that person.

This bill is an important step in protecting potential victims, and providing justice for victims who have had an image of them shared without consent. I was happy to sponsor this bill in the Senate, and I hope the House of Representatives will approve this important piece of legislation.

Capitol Visits
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. This week I had the pleasure of welcoming students from the St. Joachim Catholic School. Mrs. Boyer brought her students Dane Dickinson, Jamison Politte, Jon Roberts, Ella Riddle and Matt Politte.  Brook Dickinson, Debbie McGinness, Terry Dobbs, Steve Riddle and Zach Politte also accompanied the students.  Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4008. You may write me at Gary Romine, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101; or email me at; or