Sen. Denny Hoskins Column for the Week of March 26, 2018

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As the second half of the 2018 legislative session begins, the Missouri Senate continues to debate, discuss and approve meaningful legislation that improves the business climate for all Missourians.

Updates from the floor of the Missouri Senate

This week, the Missouri Senate approved Senate Bill 981, which requires employers to post a notice relating to workers’ compensation law on their premises as well as online. In addition, any employer who chooses to solely have their notice available online must have the notice linked to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ website. This bill essentially heightens the visibility of the state’s workers’ compensation laws for all employees and employers, and it informs all parties of the laws, processes and resources available.

Lawmakers also approved Senate Bill 666, known as the Small Business Franchise Protection Act. This proposal creates new provisions for franchise owners and corporations, who are classified as joint-employers under the federal National Labor Relations Board. Because of this change, small business owners who own and operate a franchise business could be held jointly liable for the actions of its franchisor. This legislation would clarify the definition of employer relationships for franchise owners and their employees. So far 17 other states have enacted a similar laws.

The Missouri Senate also approved legislation making it easier for electricians to operate across the state. Under Senate Bill 862, electrical contractors who are qualified to work in any specific municipality or political subdivision can obtain a statewide license as long as they meet certain requirements. The legislation strengthens an existing state law signed by the governor in 2017 by clarifying the requirements that would exempt electrical contractors from having to attain a local license.

In an effort to improve our state’s legal climate, I am proud to report that Senate Bill 608, known as the Business Premises Safety Act was heard in the Missouri House of Representative’s Special Committee on Litigation Reform this week. This legislation would protect businesses against frivolous lawsuits stemming from third-party criminal activity that occurs on their property without their knowledge. It is important we take in account the burden that falls on businesses when frivolous lawsuits are filed against them. I believe the burden of violent crimes should be on criminals, not law-abiding business owners.

State Budget Process Begins in the Missouri Senate

In addition to approving and debating numerous pieces of legislation, the Missouri Senate received the appropriation bills that makeup the state’s 2019 operating budget from the Missouri House of Representatives. We will begin the process of vetting each bill in an effort to uphold our constitutional obligation to pass a balance budget. Based on the work done by the Missouri House, Missouri’s colleges and universities may still have a chance to be funded at their current operating level. Despite the $68 million proposed cut to higher education by the governor, the Missouri House agreed to restore the $68 million proposed cut in exchange for a promise from the state’s colleges and universities to not increase tuition by more than 1 percent during the 2019 fiscal year. We know that higher education institutions are a major contributor to the success of our state’s economy. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure our colleges and universities are able to maintain an adequate funding stream for the upcoming fiscal year.

Report from the Veterans and Military Affairs Chairman

Meanwhile, legislation from the Missouri House that focused on increasing resources for service members was passed out of the Senate’s Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

House Bill 1492 extends the time period a veteran is considered eligible to participate in the Show-Me Heroes program from one year to five years. This program serves as an on-the job training resource that prepares transitioning service members for future employment. This program is proven to save businesses’ money and boost a veteran’s morale after finishing their service to our country.

The committee also passed Senate Bill 984 which requires the state Highways and Transportation Commission to consider veteran-owned small businesses as disadvantaged business enterprises for the purposes of highway construction contracts. This designation allows veteran-owned businesses to receive preference over other businesses for highway projects.

In addition, House Bill 1552 gives military spouses first priority during the processing of all applications for professional licenses. Each of these bills ensure service members have access to the resources they need to succeed upon completion of their time in the military. Investing in resources for veterans is a priority of mine, especially in the 21st Senatorial District. I am confident all of these proposals will successfully navigate the legislative process and make it to the governor’s desk for his consideration.

Happy Easter

The season we have all been waiting for is finally here! Spring is a season of growth and rejuvenation and like most Missourians, I enjoy watching our state’s landscape come back to life, budding with new flowers; marking the start of new beginnings. With Easter right around the corner, we are able to bring a little laughter, joy and remembrance into our lives. I hope everyone enjoys the holiday with their family and loved ones.

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4302. You may also email me at