On the Floor
Late nights are becoming more common in the Senate. On Monday, April 12, the upper chamber debated Senate Bill 11, which creates a statewide mechanical contractor license. While the bill was promoted as a way of cutting red tape and helping workers find jobs across the state, critics raised concerns that it would weaken local regulation and oversight of contractors. Additionally, there are concerns that by creating a statewide license for contractors, the bill could negatively impact our state’s organized labor organizations and invite out-of-state workers to compete against hardworking Missourians for well-paying jobs.
Senate Bill 11 was eventually laid over without receiving a vote, and the Senate moved onto Senate Bill 1. This legislation extends Missouri’s federal reimbursement allowance (FRA) program, an important funding mechanism for the state’s Medicaid program, until 2022. Debate on this bill centered not on the FRA portion of the bill, but language added to it preventing MO HealthNet from covering certain family planning drugs and devices. After discussing a proposed alternative to that language, SB 1 was also laid over in the early hours of the following day.
On Tuesday, April 13, the Senate spent hours discussing Senate Bill 44, a sewer and utilities bill. After giving SB 44 an initial round of approval, the Senate picked up Senate Bill 3, a tort reform bill which lowers the statute of limitations for personal injury claims from five years to two years. This bill stirred up fierce opposition. After over five hours of debate, SB 3 was laid over and the House companion bill, which lacked the statute of limitations change, was taken up and passed by the Senate by a vote of 21-11. The Senate adjourned around 6:30 a.m. on April 14.
Despite the late nights, legislation continues to move from one chamber to the next. For instance, my Senate Bill 57 was sent over to the Missouri House of Representatives this week. The bill creates the Economic Distress Fund to support nonprofits working to combat crime in high-crime areas. It also includes a fund to support law enforcement officers dealing with stress and trauma while working on the job. Other bills approved by the Senate this week were:
- Senate Bill 212, modifying provisions relating to the Department of Corrections; the Division of Probation and Parole; and the Parole Board.
- Senate Bill 5, allowing advanced industrial manufacturing (AIM) zones to be established until Aug. 28, 2030.
- Senate Bill 126, expanding the alcohol sale hours on Sunday. Also allows the sale of alcohol to-go.
- Senate Bill 44, dealing with water and sewer infrastructure.
- Senate Bill 71, which allows pets to be included in orders of protections.
Bills and Committees
The Senate’s Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee begun hearing House bills this week:
- House Bill 292 modifies the definition of “stalking” as it relates to adult abuse.
- House Bill 530 modifies provisions relating to criminal offenses.
- House Bill 676 modifies provisions relating to the necessary mental state for a homicide offense.
The Rules Committee heard several proposals this week:
- Senate Joint Resolution 28, a proposed constitutional amendment, which if approved by voters, would prohibit the compensation for public officials from being increased beyond the current two-year schedule.
- Senate Concurrent Resolution 11 establishes October 2021 as “Hydrocephalus Awareness Month” in Missouri.
- Senate Resolution 90 designates the week of May 2, 2021, as “Tardive Dyskinesia Awareness Week.”
- House Bill 685 changes the requirements to run for certain public offices.
I sponsored Mr. Bruce Lipe for appointment to the Missouri Fire Safety Education/Advisory Commission. Mr. Lipe served as a firefighter and emergency medical technician for the St. Louis Fire Department for 30 years. After his retirement in 2016, he began working full time as a sales manager for Leo M. Ellebracht Company selling personal protective equipment and other fire rescue and emergency services equipment. Mr. Lipe has completed various specialized training courses related to fire safety and rescue and holds an Emergency Medical Technician license. His appointment to the Missouri Fire Safety Education/Advisory Commission was confirmed on April 15.
As of April 15, 2021, the Missouri COVID-19 Dashboard reports an average of 367 new COVID-19 cases per day over the past week.
As of April 14, the City of St. Louis Health Department has reported a total of 21,054 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the City of St. Louis.