Legislative Column for August 6, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY - This session saw the passage of 151 pieces of legislation, the governor also vetoed six Senate Bills and 12 House Bills. In this column, I would like to explain several of the vetoed measures that will most likely be brought up during the September veto session in Jefferson City. I am still reviewing how I will vote on many of this measures, but I want my constituents to know what bills will be considered during veto session in September.

Senate Bill 345, would have increased the fees that lenders, including banks, credit unions and consumer installment lenders can charge consumers for loans by as much as 33 percent. Current law limits the fees lenders can charge for many consumer loans to 10 percent of the principal up to $75. This bill would increase the fee to 10 percent of the principal up to $100. This means that most consumer credit loans over $750, not secured by a mortgage, could see a fee increase. Consumer credit loans of $1,000 or more could have a $100 fee, where lenders can currently only charge $75.

House Bill 629, this legislation that changes the laws in regards to public retirement systems specifically for the Public School Retirement System for the City of St. Louis, and the Public School and Police retirement systems of Kansas City. The law would have changed the make-up of the board of trustees of the Public School Retirement System for the City of St. Louis and the qualifications for the four trustees elected by and from the active members. At least two trustees must be teachers; not more than one trustee must be a non-teacher; and beginning in 2016, one trustee must be a teacher or administrator at a charter school located in the St. Louis City School District. The governor vetoed this legislation, calling one of the new requirements absurd.

This year's big education bill, House Bill 42, would require accreditation of individual school buildings, as opposed to entire school districts, meaning that students in failing schools would first have to transfer to a non-failing school within their home district. If all spots are filled, they could then transfer to a school in another district, but that provision would only apply to kids in urban and metropolitan areas. The measure does not cap the amount of tuition failing schools would have to pay to allow students to transfer, but it would provide academic incentives for receiving districts that charge less for tuition. It would also allow students to transfer to charter and virtual schools. In addition, current law that confines charter schools to St. Louis and Kansas City would be changed to allow them in neighboring portions of St. Louis County and Jackson County. This legislation was vetoed by the governor on June 26.

Senate Bill 224 was vetoed by the governor because he feels it unfairly denies a group of students their eligibility to the benefits of the A+ Program. The legislation requires a student to be a United States citizen or permanent resident in order to be eligible to receive reimbursements from the A+ Schools Program. The legislation also appoints the Commissioner of Education as administrator to the program.

I would also like to take a moment to thank recently retired Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey for his many years of service in the Missouri Legislature. Senator Dempsey was the leader of the Senate and previously served in the House. He was one of the longest serving members in the legislature and his diplomatic skills will be missed.

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