On the Floor
Despite the shortened week due to the Easter Monday holiday, the Missouri Senate managed to work through a number of bills at a steady pace this week. For instance, lawmakers were able to pass and send the following pieces of legislation to the Missouri House of Representatives:
- Senate Bill 931 modifies provisions relating to corporations.
- Senate Joint Resolution 39, a proposed constitutional amendment, which if approved by the voters, would work to cap property assessment increases.
- Senate Bill 683 modifies provisions relating to child care.
- Senate Joint Resolution 41, a proposed constitutional amendment, which if approved by the voters, would allow cities and counties to exempt seniors from property tax increases.
- Senate Bill 968 modifies provisions relating to business entities.
- Senate Bill 761 creates provisions relating to access to public records.
One issue that did prompt prolonged debate in the Senate was Senate Bill 918, dealing with the Department of Natural Resources. Several senators, myself included, raised questions about the legislation and whether it could lead to increased pollution across the state. After several hours of debate, the bill was laid over without ever coming to a vote.
Bills and Committees
Sen. May’s Legislation:
My Senate Concurrent Resolution 27 is scheduled to be heard on Monday, April 25 by the House Committee on Health and Mental Health Policy. This resolution recognizes a need for mental health awareness training for high school students in public and charter schools.
Over this past week, the Senate’s Appropriations committee has been working through the state’s proposed operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The committee has spent countless hours going over the state’s budget, line by line, ensuring the budget reflects the priorities and values of Missourians. The committee was able to pass out the appropriations bills, and they will soon head to the Senate floor for further consideration. The General Assembly faces a constitutional deadline of May 6 to pass a balanced budget.
Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee:
The Senate’s Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee has begun to review House bills. On April 19, the committee discussed four bills:
- House Bill 1589 adds that a person who has been found guilty of possession of child pornography shall not be within 500 feet of certain locations.
- House Bill 1637 is an omnibus bill relating to crime prevention.
- House Bill 2127 modifies and establishes offenses involving ATMs.
- House Bill 2697 establishes the offense of organized retail theft.
Commerce Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee:
The Senate’s Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee met on April 20 to discuss House Bill 1584. This bill states any political subdivision that requires the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at any business must pay all costs associated with the installation, maintenance and operation of the charging stations.
Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee
On April 19, the Senate’s Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee heard two resolutions:
- Senate Resolution 706 designates the week of May 1, 2022, as “Tardive Dyskinesia Awareness Week” in Missouri.
- Senate Resolution 762 recognizes April 22, 2022, as World Polio Day.
Senate Passes Compromise on Charter School Funding
On April 20, the Senate approved legislation that would change how charter schools are funded. The bill returns to the House of Representatives, which approved a different version of it more than a month ago.
As passed by the lower chamber, House Bill 1552 would have redirected millions of dollars in state funding from the Kansas City and St. Louis school districts to the charter schools in their jurisdictions. The Senate compromise would modify the statutory formula for distributing state funding to local schools so that charter schools would receive additional funding without reducing the amount of money going to the local districts. The Senate version also includes reforms to how charter school operate, including that they be run by a nonprofit entity and require board members to be Missouri residents. In addition, the bill also includes changes to how online virtual schools must operate.
The House can grant final passage to the Senate version of HB 1552 or seek to negotiate an alternate version of the bill. Charter schools are public schools that operate independently of their local school district and are exempt from many state education regulations. At present, they are allowed to operate only in Kansas City and St. Louis.
House Plan to Give $1 Billion In Tax Credits Heads to Senate
On April 21, the House of Representatives voted in favor of legislation to provide $1 billion in tax breaks to Missourians.
Supporters of House Bill 3021 claim it would give eligible taxpayers a one-time credit of up to $500 for an individual and $1,000 for married couple against their state income tax liability. The way the bill is structured, however, no taxpayers would likely receive the full amount. The Missouri Division of Budget and Planning estimates top recipients would get no more than $378 for an individual or $757 for a married couple.
House leaders unveiled HB 3021 just a week earlier and days after the chamber voted down a plan that sought to provide $1,000 payments narrowly targeted for low- and moderate-income households. House Bill 3021 faces an uncertain future in the Senate, since the Appropriations Committee has allocated much of the general revenue surplus HB 3021 would have used for tax breaks toward the state operating budget.
Autism Awareness Month
April is Autism Awareness Month. With that in mind, I thought I would provide some information on Missouri Autism Projects.
These are five regional projects that provide autism programs and services to individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families, including assessment, behavior management training and supports, occupational therapy, sensory integration therapy and more. Funded through the Missouri Department of Mental Health’s Division of Developmental Disabilities, the Autism Projects provide supports and services to approximately 4,000 families statewide. To learn more about Autism Projects, please visit dmh.mo.gov/dev-disabilities/autism/projects.
Department of Economic Development Now Hiring for ARPA-Funded Positions
The Department of Economic Development (DED) is now hiring for grant-funded positions to support initiatives through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
New staff members are needed for the operation of several initiatives, including grant programs for businesses, nonprofits, community development, broadband infrastructure and more. DED expects to hire more than a dozen ARPA-funded roles throughout the rest of Fiscal Year 2022 and additional roles in Fiscal Year 2023. These positions will assist in building programs, providing technical assistance and ensuring efficient deployment of funds. Positions will be located in Jefferson City, with potential for other locations across the state for some roles.
All who are interested are encouraged to view available positions and apply online at mocareers.mo.gov. Details on planned investments using ARPA funds are available at ded.mo.gov/arpa. For more information on DED, visit ded.mo.gov.
Find Employment with the State of Missouri
Interested in working for the state? Missouri has numerous career opportunities available for those interested. By visiting mocareers.mo.gov, interested applicants can search by agency or position or location. This week, I would like to highlight opportunities with the Missouri Department of Mental (DMH). Previously, I worked with individuals with disabilities as a DMH employee for six years, and it was rewarding work. If you enjoy working with others, this may be a good fit for you. To learn more about the department, please visit dmh.mo.gov.