Legislative Actions and Information for the Week of April 29, 2019
|On The Floor
The Missouri Senate took up a measure this week that previously had been tabled. Senate Bill 391 changes state law regarding concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. Essentially, SB 391 prohibits county commissions and county health departments from regulating these industrial-sized livestock operations beyond state regulations. Senator Nasheed does not support this legislation, believing it erodes local control for counties trying to ensure the health and safety of their residents. She was not the only one to oppose SB 391, as the Senate debated this issue until 7:30 a.m. the next day. In the early morning of April 30, the bill was perfected. Later in the week, Senate Bill 391 was third read and sent to the Missouri House of Representatives.
The Senate also spent several hours on April 30 discussing one of the governor’s economic development priorities. House Bill 225 creates the Fast-Track Workforce Incentive Grant. This scholarship program is meant to help adults complete degree programs to meet the needs of high-in-demand jobs and set themselves up for future success. While Fast-Track enjoys the support of the governor, some members of the Senate were adamant that the bill would not pass without also approving language creating educational savings accounts (ESAs) in Missouri. ESAs provide tax credits to help offset the cost of sending a student to a school of their choice, including private schools. This proposed amendment was also met with resistance. After several hours of debate, HB 225 was laid over with an amendment pending.
Senator Nasheed was also able to advance some important policies through the legislative process this week. She was able to add an amendment to House Bill 547, doubling restitution rates for offenders who were wrongfully convicted. This language helps update a portion of state law that has not kept up with inflation rates. Senator Nasheed has been a long-time advocate for comprehensive criminal justice reform, and this amendment is a step in the right direction. Additionally, Sen. Nasheed was also able to get her Senate Bill 22 added to Senate Bill 224. By adding SB 22 to the legislation, this helps ensure that confidential information is redacted and that witness information is protected during the discovery phase of a trail.
Bills and Committees
Senate Bill 203 – This legislation deals with nuisance actions in St. Louis City and St. Louis County. This bill was heard in the House’s General Laws Committee and an amended version of the bill was approved by the committee on May 2.
The Missouri Senate has approved its version of the state’s operating budget. Now, House and Senate members will have to work out the differences in their budget plans in conference committees. These committees are expected to start meeting next week.
Limits on Missouri Court Access Wins Final Passage
Missourians who are injured or killed by defective products manufactured by an out-of-state company would be prohibited from suing the company in state court under legislation the Missouri House of Representatives sent to the governor on May 1 by a vote of 100-46. The Senate previously voted 24-7 for the bill in March. Under existing law, someone injured by a defective product can file a product liability case in a Missouri court so long as they purchased that product in Missouri. Under Senate Bill 7, lawsuits involving products made by an out-of-state manufacturer would have to be filed either in the company’s home state or in federal court. The effect of the change would be to make it more onerous for Missourians harmed by defective products to sue the out-of-state company that’s responsible.
House Approves Plan To Impede St. Louis Consolidation
The House of Representatives voted 143-10-1 to advance a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to impede a plan to consolidate St. Louis City and St. Louis County into a single government via a constitutional amendment through a statewide vote. House Joint Resolution 54 would prohibit existing Missouri counties or cities from being consolidated by a statewide vote unless the measure is approved by voters in the jurisdictions that would be consolidated. The measure now goes to the Senate. If HJR 54 also clears the Legislature, it would go before voters in November 2020, the same time the Better Together proposal is aiming to be on the ballot. The governor could exercise his constitutional authority to move HJR 54 to an earlier election date. If voters were to add HJR 54 to the Missouri Constitution prior to the Better Together proposal going on the ballot, it could make ratification of the St. Louis consolidation plan significantly more difficult.
Measure To Overturn Redistricting Reform Advances
On April 29, the Missouri House of Representatives approved a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to undo redistricting reforms Missouri voters ratified in November 2018. Voters approved, with 62 percent support, a constitutional amendment that requires a nonpartisan state demographer to draw new House and Senate districts during the next redistricting cycle in 2021 and every 10 years thereafter. House Joint Resolution 48, approved by the House, seeks to reinstate a modified version of Missouri’s old redistricting system under which many believed state legislative districts were created in a partisan process. If HJR 48 clears the legislative process, it would go on the November 2020 ballot for voter ratification, unless the governor exercises his constitutional authority to set an earlier election date.
Former Lt. Gov. Kenneth Rothman Dies At Age 83
Former Missouri Lt. Gov. Kenneth Rothman, who also served two terms as speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives, died in St. Louis on April 26 at the age of 83. Rothman was born Oct. 11, 1935, in St. Louis. He was first elected to the Missouri House from a district in St. Louis County in 1962 and served 18 years, including four years as House speaker from 1977 through 1980. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1980. Rothman ran for governor in 1984, but lost to John Ashcroft. After leaving elected office, he continued practicing law until 2012. He is survived by four adult children and nine grandchildren.