Sen. Karla May’s May Report for the Week of March 8, 2021

On the Floor

On Monday, March 8, the Senate discussed a tax bill that could have a drastic effect on every municipality in the state. Senate Bill 24 phases out personal property tax by reducing it by the rate of growth in real estate property tax. The bill also contained a number of tax credit programs. After hours of debate, the bill came to a vote and was rejected by the Senate. While under most circumstances the bill would be now be “dead,” later in the week, SB 24 was revived after the vote by which it failed was reconsidered. It is now on the informal calendar for perfection.

The Senate worked on another tax bill, this time relating to the gas tax. Senate Bill 262 increases the motor fuel tax by 2.5 cents in October 2021, and continues to increase it by 2.5 cents in each fiscal year until reaching an additional 12.5 cents per gallon on July 1, 2025. The legislation also includes a rebate provision, which allows Missouri drivers who keep gas receipts for passenger vehicles weighing less than 26,000 pounds to request a full refund of the additional taxes paid. Another provision of the bill enacts a lifetime ban from driving a commercial motor vehicle for any person convicted of using a commercial motor vehicle to commit human trafficking. This tax bill was ultimately approved by the Missouri Senate and now heads to the Missouri House of Representatives.

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 6, which is a National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) model language bill meant to bring Missouri in line with other standards and best practices relating to reinsurance.

Bills and Committees

Senator May’s Legislation:

This week, I presented Senate Bill 317 to the Senate’s Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee. This bill seeks to introduce due process into hearings regarding the suspension of a business, occupational, professional or other license for not complying with a child support order. In the Education Committee, I presented Senate Bill 323, which allows school districts to offer elective social studies courses on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament.

Unfortunately, the Senate’s General Laws Committee was cancelled, meaning I was not able to present Senate Bill 488, which establishes the Economic Distress Zone Fund, or Senate Bill 551, which creates mental health programs for law enforcement officers. These two bills have been rescheduled for a hearing on March 23.

Judiciary Committee:

Four bills were presented in the Senate’s Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee this week:

  • Senate Bill 181 modifies provisions relating to covenants involving business entities.
  •  Senate Bill 331 establishes new disclosure procedures for claimants in lawsuits over asbestos exposure.
  • Senate Bill 314 expands the offense of tampering with a judicial officer to include the state attorney general or their appointee.
  • Senate Bill 338 modifies provisions relating to trust interpretation and trust decanting.

Commerce Committee:

The Senate’s Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee discussed five bills this week:

  • Senate Bill 335 states that electric energy may be provided to any electric generating facility over a transformation interconnect and a transmission interconnection at wholesale rather than retail prices, under certain circumstances.
  • Senate Bill 406 requires the Public Service Commission to use the “average and excess” method to determine how to split electrical rate changes across the various customer classes. Supporters argue it would provide regulatory certainty and uniformity to rate cases, but opponents worry it favors large, industrial users and will lead to increased energy costs for residential and smaller energy customers.
  • Senate Bill 280 adjusts funding mechanisms for the Public Service Commission.
  • Senate Bill 92 provides that any real and personal property of a public utility company that utilizes Chapter 100 financing for construction will be assessed upon the local tax rolls.
  • Senate Bill 249 prohibits homeowners associations from limiting or prohibiting the installation of solar panels.

Appropriations Committee:

The Appropriations Committee continues to hear from state departments on their funding requests for the upcoming fiscal year. This week, the committee heard from the Department of Public Safety; the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; and the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. The committee also discussed the governor’s proposed supplemental budget for the 2021 fiscal year.

Other News

COVID-19 Update:

As of March 11, 2021, the Missouri COVID-19 Dashboard reports an average of 343 new COVID-19 cases per day over the past week.

As of March 10, the City of St. Louis Health Department has reported a total of 20,091 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the City of St. Louis.