Legislative Column for the Week of June 2, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY - This session saw the passage of 151 pieces of legislation. The governor has not signed most of them into law yet and it may be several months before we know the final fate of most of these bills.

Here is a sampling of some of the major pieces of legislation that we passed in 2015:

Senate Bill 5: The primary provision of this bill changed the “Mack’s Creek” law of Missouri. Years ago, this law was originally named after a small Missouri town that was a notorious speed trap, but Senate Bill 5 is mostly focused on the increasing occurrence of “taxation by citation” by many small St. Louis County municipalities.

Senate Bill 5 limits the amount of general revenue funds a municipality may derive from citations and reforms some municipal court practices that had become abusive and taxing in parts of St. Louis County.

Senate Bill 24: This bill made several changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Able-bodied TANF recipients are required to engage in work activities as a condition for receiving benefits. The bill also lowers the maximum time that a person can receive TANF during his or her lifetime from 60 months to 45 months. 

This bill was vetoed by the governor, and the veto was overridden by the General Assembly during the regular session. 

Senate Bill 239: The tort reform bill, Senate Bill 239 reinstates caps on non-economic damages in malpractice lawsuits against health care providers, which had been struck down by the state Supreme Court in 2012. This is an important cost containment measure for our healthcare system.

Senate Bill 321: Under current law, a person can obtain an order of protection from a court mandating that another person not be around or have contact if the person asking for the order has been a victim of domestic violence or stalking. This bill states that you can also obtain an order of protection if you have been a victim of sexual assault.

Senate Bill 341: Among other things, this bill gives the Children’s Division more authority to conduct investigations of sexual abuse of a child when the alleged perpetrator is another child. 

Senate Bill 373: This bill created the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control Fund and provides that 70 percent of the money collected in license fees for liquor licenses will go to the fund. The liquor control agency had been severely underfunded in recent years and this legislation attempts to fix that.

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